Saturday, October 25, 2008

That was then…
Aside
I was chatting to a young friend about the American elections and he recalled visiting his uncle in Washington in 1986. He had time to spare whilst his uncle was at work and he walked in a park and sat at a large bench. He lit a cigarette and realised that he was being watched by the other occupant of the bench – a black man. Mike (not his real name) offered him a cigarette and the man said,

‘We don’t do that here.’

Mike asked why not and the black man said,

‘Because you’re white and I’m black.’

Mike said he was English and offered him a cigarette again, and this time the man accepted.


They chatted and the man told him he had fought in the Vietnam War and when he returned he couldn’t get a job and ended up joining a gang. He showed Mark a hideous scar on his leg from an axe wound he got in gang warfare. He said he was waiting for the soup kitchen to open which did a mean peanut and jelly sandwich and offered to take Mike along but it was time for him to meet his uncle. The whole experience obviously made a deep impression on him. I was surprised that this would have happened as late as 1986.

27 comments:

kenju said...

I am surprised at that, too. It seems way too late for that, but you never know. Some black people are still very shy around whites.

kenju said...

I'm surprised at that, too. 1986 seems a little late for that attitude.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That is the thing Pat. Many people do not realize that in many areas overtly and NOT so overtly, Racism is Alive And Well...SAD, SAD, SAD to say, but true.
I think the worry of many people I know, black and white is that the underlying racism that still exists in so very mant people will stop them from Voting for Obama, here in 2008....! I hope we are proven wrong. In fact, I pray we are proven wrong.

And incidentally, Washington D.C. was always a city rampantly terribly filled with Racism and Prejudice. Amazing, isn't it? The seat of our Democracy....!

I guess we will see how much our country has TRULY moved ahead on November 4th.

Jade of the Jungle said...

I'm not surprised in the slightest, racism is sadly alive and well in some people - still as entrenched but perhaps hidden under a gloss of political correctness.

I wish people would just grow up!

J x

PI said...

Judy: America is so vast. I suppose it will vary from state to state.

Maomi: we also have pocket of intolerance and ignorance. In the valley where I was born and bred a young girl was recently murdered by a mob because she was dressed as a Goth. That would have been beyond one's wildest imagination fifty years ago.

Fiona said...

In 1988 I was refused bread in a village shop in Wales. They thought, because of my accent that I was English. My father was Scottish and my mother Welsh. Little did the shop owner know that my great uncle had been the village doctor (I come from a family of doctors).

I believe racism is still alive in certain countries and certain parts of countries. I hope that won't be the case for much longer.

That poor,poor girl. Being murdered for being a Goth. Have we got anywhere really?

What is the non fiction about? Do tell.

Kim Ayres said...

I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in Wales where I was bullied for being English.

Intolerance is one of the darker sides of humanity, and the cause of virtually all strife in the world.

PI said...

Jade: it's the hidden racism that is the killer I think.

Fiona: it's a b----r when you have to name your antecedents to get a loaf of bread - that's just how ridiculous it is.

The 'non fiction' is a chronicle of my life and times - childhood in the thirties in industrial Lancashire, a nursing career, a modelling career and then my own business, but basically it's a love story - falling in love then separated for 30 years and finding each other again. As you do:)

Kim: the Welsh aren't doing too well here. I have to admit to prejudice against the south until I went to live there. It is all so stupid.

scarlet-blue said...

I agree with Kim and it's sad and frustrating.
Let's hope and pray that the US has moved on.
Sx

Eryl Shields said...

Having suffered from racism on and off all my life: first for being not white in the England of the sixties and seventies, then for being 'English' in Scotland, I've come to feel rather sorry for the racists. It strikes me as something that arises from fear. Fear of the 'Other.' At heart, it seems, we are all still peasants afraid that someone will come along and rob us of our grazing rights.

jeff said...

If Mr. Obama wins the American election it will go a long way toward proving the change of hearts and minds in the United States. However, it will probably still take the passing of another generation to finish off racism in my country.

PI said...

Scarlet: fingers crossed - not long to wait now.

Eryl: that's a great attitude honey and it does you proud. One has to try and rise above it- they are the ones with the problem and of course not only were you 'not white' but beautiful and a brain to boot. How very dare you?
And for Scotland and Wales read Lancashire and Yorkshire - to my personal knowledge.

Jeff: but that would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Peter said...

I found a clear example of blatant racism during one of the US Rep election gatherings featuring Sarah Palin.

I was surprised non of the US media covered it.

You can check out this rather alarming video (taped in Ohio) over at

http://antwerp.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/palins-america-hate-racism-ignorance-and-fear/

All the best,
Peter, Belgium

Kath said...

I appreciate everyone's comments on this, but if Obama is not elected it does not mean we are a terribly racist country. Vice versa, if he is elected it doesn't mean we've moved past it or even improved greatly. At least, I don't believe so. Some people want to make an issue out of his race, but for most of us it doesn't exist. And I live in small town Texas...

Kate Lord Brown said...

Let's hope Obama will mark a new era ... I remember growing up in Devon incredible endemic racism. During a lesson at school, one teacher actually said to a friend and sometime boyfriend 'smile X, I can't see you'. This was 1989.

PI said...

Kath: thank you for that - it's important to point this valid point out- and I'm sure it's true.
As an alien I can only say - may the best man win.

PI said...

Peter:it's horrible and scary!

sablonneuse said...

My son spent six months at Yale just seven years ago. He is very shy but the one person who made an effort to befriend him happened to be black. She later came over to England to stay with us and she said that even in this day and age she has a hard time in certain parts of town.
Have you seen the reports of voters saying they wouldn't vote for Obamam because he is black? I'm amazed that racism is still so apparent but, sadly, I think it will be around for some years yet.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Racism is alive and kicking everywhere, up to today, even here in the Caribbean where we've been living together for so long.

On the other hand, everywhere I've been, Caribbean and overseas, I've met beautiful people of all shades, races, colour, creed, they outnumber the intolerant. I hope.

Krimo said...

Very sad but true...

Kanani said...

There are still a lot of unspoken racial divisions. Not only between blacks and whites, but between every possible combination you can think of.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

My grandmother lived in New York when there was still official segregation, 1918-20. Being English and not very well off she often went for the "cheap seats" and found herself the only white person in the balcony/back of the bus. That seemed to worry her black neighbours more than her. It stopped when she bought a cheap chicken from a black butcher in Harlem and grandpa, an Americanized Irish Scot, threw it out the window in fury.

The most recent pieces of blatant and unashamed racism I have witnessed were this summer, sadly the perps were family members, one Australian, one not a million miles from Tunbridge Wells.

I'm voting Obama.

PI said...

Sandy: and the deep under body is quite frightening.

GG: we can but hope and pray.

Krimo and Kanani: Hopefully the more it is brought out into the open the more unacceptable it should be.
I'm not sure about some of the so-called comedy about racism. Lenny Henry said that when Alf Garnett or similar had been on the TV he would have the same words used to him.

PI said...

Daphne: having lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells for a couple of decades that does not surprise me.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I really do believe it, Pat, that the non-racists outnumber the racists...if the racists had outnumbered the peaceful people, there would've been all out war.

It's just that we are so accustomed to seeing only the negatives, it's how we're programmed to look at the world.

debra said...

unfortunately, intolerance is alive and well here in the US. And if we look around the planet, it is festering in other places as well.
Fingers crossed on Nov 4th!

PI said...

GG: and with so much doom and gloom at present we need reminding to 'always look on the bright side of life de dum de dum dedumdedumdedum'

Debra: may the best mane win.