This is something I thought I would share. Any reference to real facts or persons is not purely coincidental.
The recent episodes have been pushing it under the spotlight but, in all fairness, it doesn’t seem that racism is spreading out “again” just like a contagious virus. It’s always been there and it has never tried to conceal its bulges. However, it is true that, at times, racism needs to wear some classy clothes and attractive garments to be able walk through the deemed “politically correct” places and lead the way to cultural dialogue and reciprocal understanding.
Nevertheless, because the majority “opted OUT”, people feel that it is now the right time to speak bluntly. It seems that the number of racial and hate crimes has been increasing over the last few days, especially in certain areas. Or it is possible that there has been just much more attention than usual to this kind of reported abuse.
About a year ago or so I was traveling in the underground railway on a Sunday afternoon. There were few people in my carriage and there was a heavy silence broken by the lousy blabbering of a drunk lad. For some reason that I cannot discern, the lad decided to walk in my direction, possibly trying to catch my attention. He approached me and questioned if I had any troubles at all. He spoke in the well-known cocky attitude and I replied with a tranquil smile, saying that all was fine with me. He kept staring and moving around but I was not heeding him too much. So I turned to my partner sitting next to me to say we would get off the next stop, because I tend to stay away from anything that could turn into something unpleasant, even if not dangerous. I uttered those few words in my native language, without thinking, which caused the chap to became visibly irritated and blushed with rage.
He spitted out that I should be buried because I was a damned foreigner speaking my dirty language – of course, I’ve used much finer words here- and that the same treatment should be imparted to all of us living in a country that was not ours. His body language suddenly changed and he started punching one of his fists against his opposite hand, rhythmically, as if imitating an act of violence. If he had been provoking up to that time, he now become blatantly threatening. Somebody may speak up in his defense, the poor guy was wrecked under the effect of too much alcohol and he could not speak rationally. Maybe.
I got of the train at the next stop and nothing happened, but that the guy was left alone in the carriage. However, what had struck me the most was the prompt change in this young man’s attitude and his putting forward the racist topic. Alcohol having freed him from inhibition, he had given voice to an inner thought. Or if it was a topic he had been occasionally discussing with his fellow countrymen, I couldn’t tell. But it seemed he was just waiting for the right time to spit it out and give voice to his feeling; he had consciously realised that I had given him a legitimate pretext to do that (I had allowed him to do that because I had used my native language with no respect for the “other”).
So, the point of this is that even when disguised under the veil of “sobriety”, racism is always there, its haunting presence. Racism has always been the fetid part of the human being and I fear to say that it’ll never cease to exist, unless we put in place a heavy and intense plan to educate the future generations and get rid of this unhealthy element. It’s always there, ready to point its finger and tell out the difference (cultural, sexual, economical and so on).
I have noticed that stations are those places where you can best observe the phenomenon of racism from a close perspective, that’s where people come and go.
Another time, I remember traveling in my home country and ending up stuck at a station on a motionless train. It was said that the police was carrying on some investigations at the local station because a black man had harassed a woman. No sooner had the people on the train been informed about this bad inconvenience than they felt somehow authorised to openly express their harsh feeling against those outsiders, all of those people with darker skin coming from the south: they all seemed to have some unpleasant stories to share, where they had been “victims” of an abuse inflicted by the invading foreigner.
It’s quite clear that there’s a lot of concern about people invading someone else’s territories, which can be understandable, but there’s a much more efficient way to contain migrations and diaspora, so people won’t have to flee from their places, unless they really want to. I cannot see much effort or cooperation on such things as making the World a better place to leave.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind.
Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot .
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours–your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
From Inaugural Poem, by Maya Angelou.