The Colour of Fear

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January 18, 2023– There is no such thing as a “White Nation”. Caucasians, by my humble count, consist of no fewer than 67 ethnic groups-if one counts Arabs, Berbers and Jews, along with the ethnic groups of Europe and the Caucasus. Most, if not all, of those groups are represented in the populations of settled countries, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Immigrants from most, if not all, of the other nations of the world are also represented in the settler populations of these countries.

I had the privilege, this evening, of watching much of a film called “The Colour of Fear”. In it, eight men, representing the White, Black, Hispanic and Asian communities, spent a weekend sharing their thoughts about race and about their perceptions of their roles in American society. As one might expect, there were some very strong statements made, by each of the participants. The messages were instructive: The men of colour stating all the occasions when they felt invisible, unheard or infantilized; the white men stating their contention that people should “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”. One of the Hispanic men retorted, “There are plenty of times that those ‘bootstraps’ break off. Then, what are we supposed to do?”

I have mentioned before that I am not given to fear of other people. Perhaps it is because those of colour have not physically harmed me and in moments of tension between us (long ago, actually), the communication has been direct-almost searingly so. As I sat in the room and watched the discourse, I almost wished Wayne Jefferson, Lavern Bartley, Larry Grinston, Lionel Emilien and my buddy Anthony Banks could have been there-and said, with one voice, “Remember the time…..”. I thought of Lynwood Nichols, and his cogent, very early assessment of “White Privilege”, and of Clinton Bird Hat, who taught me how to carefully and sensitively interact with Native Americans. That those life lessons occurred early on has come to be an eternal blessing.

I am proud of my heritage- the German, French, Penobscot, English, Irish and whatever other ethnicities who have contributed to my whole. I am equally proud, and honoured, by the presence of all those who have helped refine that whole person.