Les rêveries du retraité solitaire

Les rêveries du retraité solitaire

The Girl Who Thinks her Uncle Is Too Black

I have a friend who came to Canada from Jamaica when he was young. He told me that he has a niece who doesn’t talk to him, and who doesn’t even have anything to do with him, because he’s too black. Can you imagine that? That’s the most stupid and absurd thing that I’ve ever heard, and I heard a lot of stupidities and absurdities in my life. The sad irony of such a ridiculous statement is so obvious to everybody. By looking down on her uncle because his skin is slightly darker than hers, I don’t know if that stupid young girl realizes that she makes it acceptable for people with lighter skin than hers to look down on her the same way she looks down on her uncle. It also validates the hateful and twisted thinking and evil theories of white supremacists, “The whiter you are, the better you are, and the more respected and admired you should be, the better treatment should get, and so on.”


I think of Rosa Parks who refused to move to the back of the bus because she would not accept inequalities based on the colour of one’s skin. I also think of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, of course, but also of all the unsung heroes of the civil right movement of the 1960s, all those young people of different backgrounds and skin colours beaten with baseball bats and iron rods, and sometimes even killed, because they wanted a just and fair society. I think of those old postcards from the 1930s and 1940s that I found online where you see a bunch of good old white Christians from the South, all dressed-up in their white shirts and ties, gleefully smiling at the camera, while attending the burning and hanging of a black man.


I remember the rallies and the speeches, and I remember the songs, the so beautiful and moving gospel songs, like the one that Mahalia Jackson sang at Martin Luther King’s funeral. I remember the tears rolling on Jessie Jackson’s cheek when Obama was sworn President of the United States. We thought that it would be the end of it, but it wasn’t. There were the shooting of unarmed young black men, and then there was Trump. I’m talking about the United States because it’s where racism directed at black people is still probably the most obvious because of worldwide media coverage, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist elsewhere. We often hear people say that here in Canada, it also exists but in a more subtle way.


Institutionalized racism, like the one that was prevalent in South Africa and parts of the United States, makes a mockery and perverts the principles and institutions that are the cornerstone of a society. You cannot write in your constitution that all people are created equal and deny that equality to a group of individuals because their skin is a different colour from yours. You cannot build a church to worship a God of love, turn around, and burn down the church next door that was built by people who worship the same God simply because you don’t like the colour of their skin.


The attitude of that young lady towards her uncle is a slap in the face of all those who suffered and gave their lives to try to create a society in which people are not judged by the colour of their skin. That young lady must know about what happened in the past and is still happening today. She must know about slavery, and about what the Nazis did to the Jews in Auschwitz and other extermination camps. She must know what was done by human beings to other human beings in the name of so-called racial superiority. She should fall on her knees and ask her uncle for forgiveness instead of giving ammunition to those who would like us to believe that the colour of our skin is more important than what we really are.


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