Thursday, September 22, 2005

In the past week I have had to face the subject of race. Not from racists, just from people who are either scared or ignorant. But just because the intensity of the rejection is less, it doesn't really make it any less difficult to bear. Perhaps it is even the passive and insidious quality of the muted dislike that bothers me more than someone who is overt about their issue.

It is the soft hate, the quiet distaste that is the real problem to me. The secret that spills over.

From good people, too.

It's the attitude that allows things like this to be real:

Aboriginal women fair game for predators amid public indifference

Sun Sep 18, 2:56 PM ET

OTTAWA (CP) - Their carefree grins, candid photos and cold mugshots stare out from a gut-wrenching gallery.

Untold scores of society's most vulnerable members - young native women - have gone missing across the country only to be forsaken by a jaded justice system and neglectful media.

The death and disappearance of aboriginal women has emerged as an alarming nationwide pattern, from western serial murders to little-known Atlantic vanishings.

Grim statistics and anecdotal evidence compiled by The Canadian Press suggest public apathy has allowed predators to stalk native victims with near impunity.

The record also points to an ugly truth behind the political and legal lethargy: racism.

And this:

Bleak scenes on Saskatoon's 20th Street have roots in discrimination

By Sue Bailey and Jim Bronskill

SASKATOON (CP) - It's mid-afternoon on a Tuesday as a 16-year-old girl paces 20th Street in the heart of The Stroll.

Wearing denim shorts and eating an ice-cream bar, she looks like any teenager on a hot summer day - until she starts waving at passing pickup trucks.

She is among dozens of native girls and women caught up in a highly visible and racially polarized sex trade.

How they got there is a complex question with historic roots reaching back through decades of racist federal policy, says Toronto lawyer Mary Eberts.

"What has happened to aboriginal women in this country, by the conscious act of the Canadian state, is appalling."

And it goes on and on...

What always mystifies me about this "soft racism" is how it comes from people who have the advantages of education, history at their fingertips via the internet, and personal connections that could be made (with the kind of people that they don't seem to understand) in order to rid themselves of their lack of knowledge.

I do have faith in human beings. I'm not content to hang up the towel and say, "Well, that's the way it is with some folks. Don't expect better."

I expect better.

I expect people to live up to the promises of love they make in their hearts when they hold their babies and look into soft, innocent faces.

I expect people to do what is right for themselves. To break out of cycles that have existed from generation to generation.

But I don't expect them to do it alone.

Racism isn't something practiced by people with evil hearts. It's a symptom of fear and a lack of understanding. It's a reaction to Other, which at times can be scary, especially in a world where we are increasingly rammed together and the planet seems to be shrinking more every day. It's an attempt to keep identity when people you don't have much in common with start to walk on your streets, and shop at your stores.

It's a result of a story told from person to person, or generation to generation, passed like a virus that dehumanizes us all.

The cure?

Patience, Love, Time, and standing strong with one another. It's the only way. I've seen the futility of attack. I've seen how it is only destructive and the only victory that can be dragged from the brawl is a Pyrrhic one.

When you need to siphon a bug out of another person's heart, use honey.

Be a Good Person. That's it.

For someone to change, they have to be able to allow it. They have to (at least in some way) want it.

And if there is that crack, then we can fill it with warmth. We can be supportive and gentle. We can be the angels to these new and apprehensive heroes taking their first steps into a clear and beautiful world.

My hero is someone who will learn to expect the very best in people and look for it, and help it grow.


Anonymous said...

Hi Aaron,

I come to your site now and then to see what is going on in your world, but this is the first time I've left a comment.

Racism bothers me too. I'm a Metis, born and raised in a Metis Settlement. I speak Cree fluently, and I'm proud of my Aboriginal roots.

When I was in University, I wrote a paper on racism. It was during that assignment that I saw that inherent within racism is dehumanization. This is the truly scary part of racism for me. The dehumanization is there, even in the seemingly "harmless" racist comments that people make about others.

I saw it from the Aboriginal view, and what I saw was that people who are racist take the "others" out of the sacred hoop of humanity. It's an exclusivist practice. As you probably are aware, Native people are inclusionists.

Racism is a tough thing to deal with. I haven't seen too many articles on racism that mention the dehumanization aspect, an aspect which is very important.

We as Aboriginals can be the best people we can possibly be, but that's not going to affect other's views of us. Once we are dehumanized in their eyes, we're going to stay that way, and quite often, we've been dehumanized in their eyes since they were toddlers.

Something that might have an effect, is to work on awareness of the dehumanization that is part of racism.

Just a thought.

I love your art, by the way.


WildGoddess said...


Sometimes I think it is inherent in human beigns to want to set themselves up higher than their fellows. I beleive that if racism based on skin color vanished overnight from this planet, mankind somehow we would find another way to discriminate against each other. (This was actually proven in the '60's with devastating results).

I agree with you that it is all about raising our AWARENESS. Being willing to explore who we really are at the deepest core of ourselves; not looking for anyone else or anything else to define us. It's a conscious choice to wake up or remain asleep. When I experience racism in my life, I simply pray that this lost soul will wake up one day and see himself as all of us. After all, we're all in this together. Aaron, if you're interested in more of what I'm talking about,visit my conscious thought blog, "The Secret WildGoddess" at