Hellooo my Junebugs! And here we are, at least three months into the Covidian Era,  and we have hit a huge speed bump on our way to being kinder, better people. I’m speaking largely of the fury and chaos that has spread across America in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Yes, there were marches and protests in Canada, but these were largely peaceful and without violence. I’m not saying we are better than they are, or that we have less to be angry about. The death of Regis Korchinsky-Paquet, the young woman who fell from her balcony in High Park last week, was another trigger in this never-ending race war, and demands explanation. I will suggest, however, that we have fewer extreme splinter groups in this country- of either race – that exist to fan the flames of anarchy. These are the people who travel to places of unrest to make things worse. These are the people who, quite literally, need to get a life.


Ronan and Katherine went to the march yesterday, as did my nephew, and several, perhaps many of my friends and relatives. It was odd and eery watching the coverage on television, as almost everyone was wearing a mask, making the face of activism difficult to recognize. I would have, should have gone as well, but marching is a young person’s game. Also, in the intent of full disclosure, and to my shame, I’m more of a keep-your-head-down-and-hope-it-goes-away kind of person. I have my causes: medical and cancer research, mental health, but I have yet to throw my hat into the race ring, largely because I have floated through life in a cloud of white privilege. God help me, I may be a Karen.


What I do know is that it’s not enough to not be racist. We have to be ANTI-racist. We can no longer accept or ignore casual bigotry, writing it off to cultural or generational differences. I come from a long line of casually biased people. My grandfather would say he had nothing against coloured people (his words), but he’s not going to get off the sidewalk for them (what does that even mean?) My father, who, growing up in Ireland, probably never met a person of colour before he was 30, would tell a brown person they had a nice tan, to my everlasting embarrassment. My mother was, and is, simply afraid of black people, for reasons I do not have the patience to discuss with her. They pale in comparison (pun intended) to some of my own colleagues and acquaintances, people my age and younger, who say the most astonishingly ignorant things with impunity, usually online, but, sometimes, conspiratorially, after a few drinks, at dinner. I’m not going to recount the worst here, but sometimes it can be quite subtle: I know one person who, for whatever convoluted reason, drops his voice when referring to someone as “black” like it’s something to be ashamed of, or maybe he’s ashamed of himself for calling attention to it. In any case, it’s ridiculous, and isolating, and xenophobic, and stupid.


Polite behaviour suggests that we shouldn’t call people out on their misconceptions, or make a scene, or ruin a dinner party. “I’m entitled to my opinion!” claims the blowhard, or, “It’s different where we live” explains the tourist. First of all, racism is not an opinion, it’s just blind ignorance. And if it’s different where you live, chances are the people you consider the problem, be they black or indigenous or just different from you, are living in poverty and oppression and are often the victims of gratuitous violence. If we are not going to march in the streets, the least we can do is deny racists their beliefs, to call them out, to insist they rethink their attitudes, to refuse easy and self-serving explanations. It takes patience and courage to face down ignorance, and right now we need plenty of both.


Ok. Thanks for bearing with me. Last week, a deep dive into feminism, and now a tirade on racism. Tomorrow: a recipe for cherry cheesecake!


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