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Kamloops News

JONESIE: The real white man's burden

January 09, 2021 - 7:00 PM

 


OPINION


I know you’re all dying to know what watching Wednesday’s Redneck Rebellion in Washington was like from a white man’s perspective, so let me tell you.

I know these people. Not the ones storming the Capitol, but plenty who would fantasize about it and romanticize them. They are my friends, my family. They’re all over my social media, from childhood pals to close relatives. I grew up with them in small town Alberta.

They defend Donald Trump but there’s nothing to discuss. How do you engage with people who have accepted Trump’s version of reality?

I’m not talking simple left or right, there are no political arguments to be made. If you’re in with Trump, you’ve accepted everything he’s done and said. You’ve joined a hate group.

And many I know are quite comfortable with their own overt racism.

I feel the need to say overt because it used to be quiet, hushed undertones as if it were nothing more than impolite. But I’ve seen enough and heard enough. 

And hey, mea culpa. My hands aren’t clean either. The lone brown family in one small were often targeted and I was among a horde of teens that made life miserable for two young boys we went to school with. I didn’t do anything to stop it.

For a time, when I was in my teens, I would have told you I hated indians, without you even asking. Not that you would have, because if we were talking, you did, too.

I got sucker-punched one morning and my humiliation and fear was projected onto anyone with the same long, brown hair. It didn’t help that it happened again playing hockey, and one more time for good measure.

Thing is, I got into a lot of fights, mostly with white guys, but harboured no hatred for pale skin. Took me a while to realize that.

I had nothing against Black people, but I did have my stereotypes. I’d drag the only two Black kids in town to the outdoor basketball court every day, whether they had game or not.

It wasn’t until I got out of that town that I got some perspective. You meet people who don’t look like you and you learn — crazy concept, I know. Some of the very few great influences in my life, personal heroes, are Indigenous.

I had to get away from friends and family and a life steeped in this irrational fear and sense of superiority. I’m not that guy anymore and it’s taken plenty of reckoning to understand how I ever got there. Product of the environment, I guess.

I’m not ashamed to be white, that’s ridiculous. I do feel shame and embarrassment for my own past actions and I think about those two boys a lot. I’ve looked them up, though didn’t reach out, and it looks like they have thrived away from that place as well.

I’m white mansplaining this because I suspect many, many others are in the same boat — maybe anchor is the better word. We understand where we came from, found our way through it, but still have close family and friends who can’t, don’t, won't.

It’s not even just racism. The folks I know who support Trump are cloistered, rarely seek or accept other views, education or objectivity. Their answer is to shout down those who disagree, take what they feel is theirs. Now they're radicalized in this trans-border MAGA community.

Even after the Village Idiot Vanguard stormed the Capitol, their defenders continued on social media with justifications and whataboutisms. And still defend Trump, who incited the mob from the White House. He should be arrested and charged with treason. 

I was angry when I saw that mob, both on television and social media and I don't think they're done — not by a long shot. They can't be ignored and I, personally, have some tough decisions to make.

Then the other shoe drops and I have friends fighting with my mother and calling her names on my own Facebook page, where she chose to bring the fight — again. And I'm caught between wanting to punch their noses and wanting to join them, to engage as I would anyone espousing such ridiculous views.

That’s the real burden for white folks like me: Reconciling with generational racism.

— Marshall Jones is the Managing Editor of iNFOnews.ca

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