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THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC RACISM — WHAT WE ARE NOT TAUGHT IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS

This post is directly inspired by an OpEd from the Washington Post, and reblogged with commentary on Word Press by Filosofa at http://jilldennison.com/2021/07/16/my-worst-nightmare/ To publish Jill’s post here and then add my commentary to it might make for a very long read, but if you are not already aware of her post, or Mr. Charles M. Blow’s excellent history of systemic racism in the USA, I would suggest you read it before reading the rest of this post to give a framework for the inspiration. For those of you who have already read either of the above works, please read on.

When I was a K-12 student in Canada in the 50s and 60s, I was taught a lot of American history, along with a lot of British history, and a good smattering of world history. Our educators told us we had one of the best history curriculums in the world. And we believed those educators. Certainly we learned more about Americans than they learned about Canadians. What we did not know, what our educators never told us, is that what we were learning was White American history, indeed, White World history. While some mention was made of slavery, and the struggle of the Negro to gain equality, it was bare basics. Everything we were taught glorified America, and was intended to make us look up to Americans. I hate to admit it, being a person of colour in Canada, red, I had no idea how badly White Americans treated Black Americans. At that time there was no mention of people of other colours. While we were told there were brown and yellow people in the world, we were never taught much about them except as they interacted with White Canada, and White America and White Europe, especially White Britain. There were Black and Asian Canadians where I grew up in Winnipeg, but we learned little about them, other than that they were now Canadians, and so worthy of our respect and acceptance. In schools we were not taught to hate. What we were taught at home will not be discussed here at this time. Suffice it to say, we were taught it did not matter what colour people were, we were all equal, at least in theory.

Mr. Blow’s history of America blows what we were taught to hell and back again. Yes, we were aware of Rosa Parks, and a few other Freedom Riders, but we were never given the context in which Ms Parks’ actions were so earth-shattering. We watched on TV as black students were bussed to White schools, but we were not asked to understand the significance of these actions. No one told us about racism!

How could they not? Did our educators really believe they could hide the seedy side of America from us? They must have, because they succeeded for a long time. We students had no idea of the depths of racism in America. In fact, when we were finally taught about Apartheid in South Africa, we were made to believe that was the height of racism in our world. How badly we were lied to! How utterly we were lied to.

At least the White Afrikaaners in South Africa admitted they were racist. White Americans hid the fact that they were racist from the rest of the world, telling us everyone in America was born free and equal. What a bunch of bullshit! America was hiding it’s dirty laundry behind the lily-white Constitution that all men were created equal, not telling the world that Black people were not men, meaning not human.

Eventually, what we Canadian-taught people discovered, was that there was literally a dark side to American history, a side so dark that it was actually Black. But still, if I take myself as an example of a somewhat typical Canadian, I still did not understand how deep racism runs in America. And here I want to clarify that while Mr. Blow’s history is mainly about the Southern States, it is equally as condemning of the Northern States, because they sat by and allowed the Southern Whites to perpetuate their racist Jim Crow laws. And it makes me wonder, while I do not want to paint all non-coloured Americans with the same brush, how many White Northern Americans are actually closet racists, believing all people are equal, while still holding on to the British idea that all non-Whites are a step or more below them.

When Britain ruled the waves, they treated everyone they came across, all people of colour, as savages, non-humans, beings unfit for polite society. Even people of China and India, to mention just two present-day nations, who had historical societies much older than British society, were beneath the ever so righteous Brits. Those are the people who settled, read stole, North and South America from their rightful inhabitants. They conquered the people of these lands with their greater technologies, weapons, and horses. The original human inhabitants of these territories welcomed White people with open arms, at first, only to be slaughtered in numbers impossible to imagine, even as the Whites slaughtered the buffalo that owned the plains. Only, the White people did not succeed as well with wiping out the indigenous peoples of the New World as completely as they did the buffalo, but it was not for lack of trying.

The truth of the Residential Schools in Canada is only now being brought to light, while it was known all along by the victims of those so-called schools. And Mr. Blow’s history of White America gives the lies to America’s history. Here we are, in the year 2021, still doing nothing to stop the disenfranchisement of Black People in America. While people are whining about the Jim Crow laws 2.0 as Mr. Blow so aptly names them, no one is doing anything effective to stop them from being passed. This makes me ask, HOW DEEP DOES RACISM REALLY RUN IN AMERICA, AND IN THE REST OF THE SO-CALLED FREE WORLD?

How deep does racism run in Canada?

By rawgod

A man with a lot of strange experiences in my life. Haven't traveled that much per se, but have lived in a lot of different areas. English is the only language I have mastered, and the older I get, the more of it I lose. Seniorhood gives me more time to self-reflect, but since time seems to go much faster, it feels like I don't have as much time for living as my younger selves did. I believe in spiritual atheism and responsible anarchy. These do not have to be oxymorons. Imagination is an incredible tool. I can imagine a lot of things.

46 replies on “THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC RACISM — WHAT WE ARE NOT TAUGHT IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS”

Great post!

Yet depressing since it’s the “white” that sit in the driver’s seat, which means little will be done to change things.

For all the “smarts” that the human animal has gained over the years, the proliferation of selfishness seems to have evolved far more than any other trait.

I would venture that is because most of us live in the realm of ego. Ego must protect itself because it thinks it is the major source of personhood. That realm belongs to spirit, but until one allows the spirit to take on the role, the ego usurps it. The more ego has, the safer it feels.

You outdid yourself on this one, my friend! Excellent post! Thanks for the mention, by the way. More and more each day I come to realize just how racist part of this nation is. Seeing the blatant attempts by 80% of the states to disenfranchise Blacks and Hispanics, to take away their voices, disgusts me, as do the killing of unarmed Black people by police, the double standard applied in schools and employment, and the current uproar over Critical Race Theory. There are some in this country who would like nothing better than to simply erase the history of this country, all but the good parts … and yes, there were some good parts, but we are a product of EVERYTHING that has led us to today, not only the better things. Again … good post, rg.

Sorry. I have no idea how to put a reb log button on. I thought that came automatically. I just don’t know enough about Word Press. But thank you if you do.

At some point, it would be good if you put the re-blog button on, as well as the ‘like’ button which is missing, too. I can walk you through the process … it’s fairly simple. For now, though, I’ll just re-blog in a different way either this afternoon or Monday afternoon, okay?

Sure thing. The “like” button is missing on purpose. I am hoping–crazy me–to inspire people to comment. I don’t like “like” buttons. They are so impersonal.
But “re-blog” buttons, I don’t remember seeing such an option. I’ll have to go look. Maybe I can find it before you try the “old school” way, lol.

I like the ‘like’ button, because sometimes I don’t really have anything to say in a comment (or sometimes, quite honestly, just don’t have time to leave a comment) but I want to let the writer know that I did read the post and did like it. Ah well, to each his own.

Yup.
Did you find the reblog button on my post? Or do I have to do something else yet?
Spelchek doesn’t like reblog, it keeps changing it to reb log. Is that a dead tree in a grey uniform? I cannot imagine how badly it was programmed.

Nope … I’ll work around it by using ‘pingback’. Probably tomorrow … er, this afternoon or evening. I’m tired and heading to bed soon. Ha ha … you’re so right … my Spell Check doesn’t like the word either, but I’ve taught it, added it to the dictionary.

I am a bit younger than you, so I did get taught a bit more about racism and how both Canada and the US treated people that were not “white” such as internment camps during WWII and the way the Chinese were treated while working on the railroad, but still a very whitewashed education. With all that is coming to light as people say they aren’t going to take it anymore, I am often embarrassed to be a white Canadian. Excellent post!

Thanks, Carla. We were not taught about the internment camps of WWII in school, but my dear racist father (a POC who hated all POCs) worked at an internment camp, so I got the stories firsthand from him. They were not nice stories, but he loved to tell them. My mother, on the other hand, tried to get him to shut up, but failed.
Anyways, I am Metis, half white, half red. It took a long time to resolve that dichotomy. Half suppressor, half suppressed. I hated myself too.
Residential Schools were a blight on Canada’s past, but remember, they are in the past. They cannot be undone. We have to acknowledge they happened, and that they were way worse than any of us can imagine, but we had no part in them. As long as we have progressed, we are not responsible. But we do have to make sure they never happen again.
And we also have to understand, generations of indigenous peoples never learned how to bring up their children. They did not have any role models of how to be mothers and fathers. They did not learn self-respect, because that was beaten out of them. These things are never mentioned in the news. What we see today are damaged individuals who look like they have no reason to be damaged. Our justice system takes no note of these damages and their roots. This is what needs to be changed! Try to imagine how they feel now, having kids, and not knowing how to truly love them. And try to imagine how it is to be a child who is not truly loved. This is the real predicament created by Residential Schools.

I have had that discussion often with people who just day, it is in the past and it is not our fault. The only people who deserve reparations and support are the ones who were in the residential schools. I get really frustrated. I have read several books about the aftermath and resultant generational issues from the residential schools, so I will keep trying. I thought you might have been Metis from your picture and comments. That is quite a dichotomy for sure, but as you said, you have only recently become proud of that heritage. Keep speaking out!

I intend on it. But I do have a pet peeve, you may have noticed, and listening to elders use the word “Indian” fo describe themselves makes me want to cry. WE ARE NOT INDIANS! That is such a colonial concept visited on us by Cristoforo Columbo who knew he was not in India but used the moniker anyway. We should have known right then and there the white man was not our friend. But we welcomed him anyway. We might as well have been Dodos.

Rawgod, thanks for sharing your perspective and history of what was not taught. What bothers me is I have tried to learn about our racist past, and still was unaware until last year of what happened in Tulsa, OK about one hundred years ago. And, just finishing historian Jon Meacham’s “Soul of America,” I learned of how prevalent the KKK affiliations were in the US Congress – 25% of the Senate and over 100 Congress members had some relationship to the KKK in the late 1920s. That scared me. We must learn lessons of history, all of it, or we are destined to repeat it, especially with the whitewashing efforts being led by the US Republican party. Then there is the history of Native American genocide and re-indoctrination efforts where children were taken from their homes to be trained to be less inclined toward their heritage. Both our countries have lessons that must be known and not repeated. Keith

Add Australia to that list. I am reading a blog from an Aborigine, and their children were taken awaytoo. Did it happen to the Maori too?
I hope to be writing a follow-up to this post about the effects of Rescential Schools in Canada that no one wants to talk about. I wonder if they are similar in the States? Do you have any idea how many indigenous schools were run in the States? Is anyone searching them for dead bodies? I cannot imagine there are none.
Meanwhile, what other newsworthy items have not yet come to light in our countries. Someone did a damn good job of White-washing school texts!

Rawgod, I do not know the answer to your question, but CBS Sunday Morning News did a piece on the purpose of these schools two days ago. I am familiar with Carlisle in Pennsylvania as I read the biography of Jim Thorpe, the Native American Olympic decathlete from 1912. One the interesting tidbits from the CBS piece is the high percentage of Native Americans who served in the military, higher than any other race in the US. That should be celebrated as an important fact and a good rebuttal in conversation about why we should teach our whole history. Keith

Thanks, Keith. Yup, tidbits like that should be part of the story, but they don’t glorify the whites of those times, or the Republican story of today.

Hello Rawgod. Thank you for your heartfelt post. Some people are trying to make a difference in the equality struggle. Many in different ways, as they can. Are we making a difference or deluding our selves I don’t know, but the effort is worth trying as hard as we can. The past can be learned from, the present can be directed, but the future is not yet written. Perhaps the best we in the present can do is learn the past, teach the truth of it, and try our best to make a better future. Best wishes. Hugs

I hear you Scottie, but just talking about it, which has actually been going on for a good 20 years in Canada, is not getting us anywhere. There are still at least 50 reserve sites, what I believe Americans call reservations, that do not have potable water. This is 2021. Everyone should be able to drink the water running out of their taps, or for really rural people, their wells. But these 50 sites have to truck in water to drink or cook with.
Fighting for equality and acceptance is one thing, but when you have to live without readily available drinking water, that is unconscionable. yet all our governments, liberal or conservative, drag their feet. They’re just Indians, their votes don’t count for anything.
Systemic racism. You bet your sweet biffy.
Hugs back to you.

I was just talking about that last week. Before we help other countries, we need to make sure that everyone has potable water! That is unacceptable in a country that is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to live.

Exactly my thinking. I have no problem with Canada helping out other nations in need, but they should be taking care of their own at the same time. Truly, it is time to end the reserve and settlement system, and turn this country into a modern day example of everyone being treated equally. The Department of Indian Affairs, what fancy name it is called today, has no reason to exist. It is a colonial system that keeps First Nation and Inuit people from ever becoming fully Canadian. I don’t know what the answer is, or how to go about it, but I have been on some reserves in the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta that look the same as they did in 1920, to pull a year out of a hat. The houses are all the same shape, the roads are unpaved, the land itself is almost barren and bleak. Some people like it because their nation gets to live together with hardly any white interference–can you believe they don’t trust most government officials for some reason? In High Level, which is a mile away from Bushe (pronounced Bushy), most First Nations people are treated like dirt, although some others do seem to be quite acceptable. Ah, Carla, my blood is starting to boil again. Best I save my anger for my next post, lol. Thanks for the comments, I hope you keep on voicing your opinions.

Hello Rawgod. I think I understand, but with out as much media attention, as much pressure as people talking about it can bring, with out each voice being raised, would we be any closer to a solution? Every thing you said is true. But if we don’t raise as much attention as possible to get the attention needed to change the situation, how does it change? It wont change as long as it is ignored. Ignoring it is easy for some, I don’t understand why, but when we raise our voices together it makes it hard for politicians to ignore it. If not then it damn well should. Best wishes. Hugs

I hear you Scott, but it doesn’t always work that way. In Canada, the federal government just appointed a racist as the new Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. What a stupid move.
There should not even be a Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. We are all fucking Canadians. Why isn’t there a Ministry of Canadian Affairs?
Systemic racism is everywhere you look. Colonialism is alive and well in both our countries. That is what needs to be fought.
Okay, I’ll calm down now. (((((BIG HUG.)))))

I believe we need to know about history both the good and the bad. I certainly believe that those English who went to the America at the start were bad, and did just as you said, stole the land whilst killing off the natives. But you talk as though nothing at all has changed when you say ‘while still holding on to the British idea that all non-Whites are a step or more below them.’ as though that’s still the norm. I can assure you it’s not. I’ve lived and worked all over the UK and in all different levels of society and race is not a subject generally talked about except by those who are racist, and like the rest they shout loudest. but we’ve never admitted a racist party to power , never had instances of schools with the bodies of coloured children scattered about the grounds. Never ad any party try to disenfranchise people of colour from the vote. We’re a melting pot who know without immigration we couldn’t survive. W know of our bad history and don’t want to repeat it. I was very happy when my daughter’s boyfriend asked for her hand. I persuaded him to take the lot. He has Nigerian roots and I didn’t turn a hair.
Hugs

Hey, David, the larger part of that quote was “how many White Northern Americans are actually closet racists, believing all people are equal, while still holding on to the British idea that all non-Whites are a step or more below them.” My intent, as I hoped I explained in the next paragraph, is that the idea some Northern Americans are still feeling the same way their ancestors felt when they came to the New World centuries ago, a huge part of which were British. I’m sorry you took it to be about modern Brits, that was not my intention in any way.

“I persuaded him to take the lot.”

Ya, just the hand would be a bit underwhelming for the groom and downright cruelty towards the bride, no?

Apropos Nigeria:

In German we use the same phrase. I guess in the old times it was the father of the bride, laying her hand into the suitor’s.

Terrific post, though it doesn’t really surprise me, as it seems the history of the white race is of a kind no matter which country they propagate.
P.S. I agree with Jill Dennison’s like of the “Like” button, and for the same reasons — mostly that sometimes, i just don’t have time to comment because I follow so many blogs. That said, I like your posts that I read, even though you don’t know which ones I read.

That’s okay, sir muse. It may be hard to believe, but I don’t mind not knowing. I only look at stats when WP informs me I reached another of their milestones, and then it is just to look at the map that tells me where people are looking from. That is what I find interesting. But, if enough people feel the need to have a “like” button I will revisit the possibility.

And I’ll add my two cents … I think the “like” button is a good thing! If nothing else, rawgod, it gives you an idea of how many people actually stopped by and read your post. And a “like” on the comments shows how many visitors agree with other visitors. Bottom line — it makes your blog more of a community.

I will ask a couple questions of you Nan. (After I wonder in print does Word Press ever stop counting how many likes you get on your blog. I have only been blogging for 4 years now, but Word Press keeps telling me when I pass their milestones, as if they are a right of passage of sort, or a sign of how popular or unpopular my blog is. I don’t care if I am popular or not. That isn’t important to me.)

1. How full does your email get when you receive hundreds or thousands of like notifications for each post you publish? And for all the comments people like? I am constantly having to delete like notifications from my email, and from the comment section of my blog. Maybe it’s just me, but I have better things to do than sit and delete emails and likes. They have no use in my life. As it is have 18000 undeleted emails in my inbox because I spent a period of a few years not deleting them. Now I can’t get rid of them, because some of them I have to keep. That means deleting them one by one.
2. How important is it to know you are liked by so many readers? Is there some kind of ego gratification going on? I have to admit there is a little piece of me that smiles when a comment I make gets a number of likes, and I don’t like feeling that way. I don’t make comments to garner likes, I make comments to talk to people, to have conversations with people. I know you don’t like my long wandering comments, but If I don’t say what I want to say, what is the use of making a comment. Telling someone they wrote a great post is not in my vocabulary unless I tell the writer why I think it is great, where I agree, where I disagree, how it affected me, etc. etc. etc. If a post doesn’t inspire me to comment, what is the use of letting the writer know? They don’t need to know, in my opinion.

Community? You certainly do have a community of readers, as do Jim and Jill and a lot of others. I am part of those communities. But there are a number of other communities I am no longer a part of, because they don’t like that I voice my opinions when those opinions are negative. They ask me to leave their community, And I do. If I am not allowed to be myself, it is no use fighting to stay. I handle my own relationships the same way, friends or lovers. If they don’t think I put enough effort into a relationship by their standards, I am gone. I don’t fight to be where I am not wanted.

But here I am, letting my thoughts wander to where they will. I am not sticking to the point at hand. But why should I?

In response to #1 — there is an option in the “Discussion Settings” area of your blog Admin that is titled: “Email me whenever” and gives a list of choices.

In response to #2 — I don’t consider it “ego gratification” as much as I do the fact that it lets me know other people received some enjoyment/benefit from reading my blog. If you are writing just for yourself, then you should probably remove even the “comment” section. There is an option to “close comments” on any blog.

As for “community” — that is entirely your prerogative and goes back to #2. And if you close comments, you’ll never need to be concerned about how others feel/think about what you wrote.

Bottom line — it’s YOUR blog. You can set it up pretty much any way you want.

And if I lose comments there is no use having a blog. To me, blogging is all about back and forth communication. I now have to check when I read a new blog if comments are allowed. No matter how good or bad a post is, if I cannot leave a comment it is not worth my time. One-way communication is authoritative. If the author is not open to feedback, what is the use of writing?

So thank you Nan for telling me where to look to make those changes. I get lost in those lists of options. I still have a mental block against the internet. It is a great boon to communication with people all over the world, but at the same time it is the most devastating weapon ever invented by humanity. It beats nuclear bombs hands down. As much as I use it, I HATE IT.

“time seems to go much faster”

Logical explainification: When you were a 1y/o baby a year was your whole life. All your experiences. opinions and what you learned fitted inside365 days. For a 12 y/o you, a year was 1/12th of your whole life. As we get older each and every year becomes a much smaller portion of our lifes. I’m 54 now, so a year has shrunk to only 1/54th of my life.Tendency is it will keep on shrinking faster and faster. 😮 Also you know and have seen a lot so nothing is as exciting and memorizable as when you did it for the first time.

That does not explain the fact it takes me two minutes to walk ten feet to the bathroom. The knees are shot. The legs are unstable. That’s old age. But 5 feet à minute. That is incomprehensible. Yet I have timed myself. The stop watch does not lie. But good try.

Yeah. Parts of your history are quite well known, but probably even Deutschland has stories it does not want exposed, even to its own people.

I recommend a very clear and insightful book about American racism: The Sum of Us, by the brilliant Heather McGhee. She’s also done some great podcast interviews. (I’ve described her main points on my blog.)

Her premise is that from the very beginning—first with Indigenous people, then with slavery, to the present—we have been locked in a zero sum game in which plutocrats convinced white people that anything people of color received from government was subtracted from what white people received. So white people—who actually received benefits that POC did not—both resented everyone else and mistrusted govt—throwing in their lot with the 1 percent. She gives one example after another; they’re compelling.

Not until people wake up and realize that this zero sum thinking is holding them back can we hope to make progress in redressing the structural racism that permeates our society.
And these lessons are equally relevant in other countries where the patterns and attitudes that developed under white rule persist.

Thank you, Annie. (My Spelchek doesn’t like your name.) Reading books is not my forte anymore, unfortunately, but I will check out your blog for some info.
So more lies being fed to the gullible, more promises that are nothing but hot air. It makes we wonder that the whites of older days did not develop their own form of what the Nazis tried to do to the Jews. Except in Black’s they had cheap labour, and in Reds they already had the guilt of stealing their land and putting them on reservations so they did not have to be constantly reminded of their crimes. Out of sight, out of mind.

I am just glad that most people do not think that way anymore, but still those attitudes persist in enough people, vocal people, that it seems they will never be eradicated. Humans have so much to be grateful for, but they have so little sense of the life around them which they share this planet with. I do worry for the future of all life on this planet.

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