As I turn a major 0 type birthday this year, I look back and remain amazed at how my life has played out.
I was born and raised in a geographically isolated town of mostly blue collar workers (my dad being one of them). I grew up 'poor' insofar as my parents scraped and did without so that their children (my brother and I) could have the essentials. Luxuries were few and far apart, but even so, I confused the kids at school - I only had one pair of 'good' shoes but I had multiple hand knit sweaters, made from expensive yarn. I had nice clothing that mom made. I had music then ballet lessons. Because mom saw the value in such things and she made the money for them happen. Even if it meant stew several nights a week that was mostly vegetables from our back yard garden.
Mom signed the approval papers for me to get a library card when I was in grade one or two, I can't remember which teacher took us on the field trip to the library - possibly grade two, then when the librarian phoned her to ask if mom knew the kinds of books I was taking out? Told the library I could take out anything I wanted. (the book in question was a grade 12 history book, apparently - I don't remember, but overheard mom telling a friend the story when I was an adult).
So from a very early age I read. Voraciously. Everything I could get my hands on. I read fiction, but I also read non-fiction. I drank up everything, absorbed cultures that were not my own, learned as much as I could about everything.
I was also blessed with really fabulous teachers (for the most part). When I complained to mom that I didn't much like my grade five teacher she asked why. I explained that he 'favoured' the girls and was mean to the boys. She agreed that wasn't right, but there wasn't anything I could do about it and that I needed to continue to do my work. I don't recall her saying that I ought to defend the boys, but I wanted to.
Grade 6 was a transitional year in large part because of my teacher, Mr. Rae. I will never forget him and the way he taught us to think for ourselves, to use logic, to question the status quo. He taught us history without the sugar coating of white supremacy.
In high school I benefited from mostly really excellent teachers, and those who were not good, in fact, down right 'bad'. From the 'bad' ones I learned how not to teach. I learned even more about teaching when mom went back to school as a mature student to take an Early Childhood Education degree. I typed up her papers, editing them, getting them into 'proper' English (she had English as a second language and never could wrap her head entirely around English grammar, especially written.)
In grade 7 I was assigned a pen friend living in Sweden and eventually went to visit there, living on campus for three months at the university in Orebro. Nothing like living in a foreign country, not being able to speak the language to develop an appreciation for your own culture - and to begin to see inequities in it. Distance is great for developing perspective.
My parents mostly identified with conservative values (of the day). In grade 10 our liberal social studies teachers gave us a 'test' to help place us on a political spectrum. I placed in the liberal leaning part of the quadrant. And over the years, as I have taken such 'tests' subsequently, I have remained there.
Sunday school taught us that Jesus loved the children, all the children of the world - didn't matter their colour. Turn the other cheek. Love your neighbour. Be kind. Those were the values I took from church.
And yet. And yet.
Here we are.
I was born in 1950 so I lived through many of the things listed in this piece of music. I remember McCarthy, the race riots, the march to Selma. I remember actual lynchings happening. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy all assassinated - by white men.
I remember Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, Vietnam. Many American draft dodgers came to our neck of the woods.
I wept at so many things that have happened in this world as human beings murdered each other in the name of...something something gazpacho, as Jim Wright says.
We are at the cusp of something momentous right now, in this time, in this place. The pandemic is forcing us to take a long hard look at society, shining a spotlight on the privileges white people have claimed for themselves and withheld from others.
White people are not superior to others.
White people live in a bubble of privilege that they have claimed for themselves. Some of whom are willing to retain through violence.
White people need to open their eyes. See how what they are doing is simply wrong - IF they call themselves Christians. IF they actually care about what Jesus said. IF they even understand that Jesus was a brown man from the middle east.
These are difficult times due to many factors, the pandemic is just shining a spotlight on them. Time to work on what is causing the problem and stop killing each other.