Yikes. I haven’t posted for a week. Do I feel guilty? Sort of. ‘They’ say develop good writing habits and be consistent, so that your readers anticipate your next post, like it’s a gift or nugget of wit and/or wisdom.
I retreated to my fall-back get-inspired position – be observant and take photographs, then write.
Yesterday, I met a friend for coffee. She’s a published author and a lovely person. In fact, we had talked about going into business together to offer writing courses, but after a flurry of initial planning and curriculum development and searching for a suitable location, we came to the simultaneous realization that we’d rather write than teach others how to do it well. As much as we’d have liked to work together, we were relieved not to have to slog through the noise and compete in an already crowded field.
On my way to the cafe to meet her, I passed a display in the British Store that stopped me in my tracks.
The store was closed. I know an 80-something woman runs it, and I expect she is culturally tone-deaf, as only pre-war British folk can be. But really? I wanted to scream.
I wasn’t offended, because stuff like this doesn’t touch my soul, but I was shocked at the insensitivity and racial blindness that would let someone think it was okay to have this crude depiction in the window. Nappy hair, big earrings, googly eyes, wide red slash of a mouth, black-black fabric skin. Who manufactures that shit?
Ugh. Ugly. Stop it.
Yes, I know that whatever this creature is supposed to be dates back to the ‘old days’, and I’m not one to harp on centuries of colonization and the rapacity of the British Empire as it consumed countries in the Third World, but good god, this is 2016.
The Empire (the one that doesn’t Strike Back, that is) has collapsed. The future wealth of the world likes in countries like China, Africa and India – all overrun at one time by the likes of the East India company and explorers and missionaries bent on ‘saving’ the darkies from their heathen ways.
Oh, and oppressing them, discarding their traditional belief systems, plundering their resources, destroying their historical ways of life and governance, raping their women, enslaving their men…. The practices continued in other colonized countries, including North and South America, where those not of the ruling race were considered useful for hard labour and sexual relief but less than human. I could go on, but I won’t.
History is the past, thank goodness. Have we not learned anything?
Let me say that I was never any sort of rabble-rouser (except as a cheerleader in high school). In fact, in the 80s, when I refused to join the angry few who were fomenting racial discord in Toronto, I was sneeringly called an ‘Oreo’ – white on the inside, dark on the outside. Not black enough, because I was Canadian and ‘hadn’t suffered’. Yeah, yeah, so what? Sticks and stones….
There’s a difference in allowing others to make you suffer and recognizing hate/stupidity/fear and turning away from it. That’s very personal.
If I showed the display to my teenaged grandchildren, they’d look at me with a, ‘Grandma, WTF’ expression, and they’d be right. This is 2016. WTF?
When next I’m in town, I’m going to speak to the proprietor and ask that she remove the thing from her window. Perhaps there’s some old Brit fart who’ll buy it, for some reason but damn it, I don’t have to see the thing when I stroll past.
I’ve come to this tiny act of activism late, but at least I’m doing something.