Racism, Genocide, Reparations and Respect

It has taken me several weeks to decide to write this post for a variety of reasons. I needed to do some introspection as to my own attitudes when it comes to race and my own “racist” feelings. I wanted to write a post that could give a fair assessment of what I feel. And some of the back story that has influenced my feelings. Experiences both good and bad form many of our feelings about those of different races. Especially when we are children. Input from our parents and society as we develop creates the “tracks” we repeat and think when it comes to race. When we are older we can think through these “recordings” and try to change the way we think and how we perceive the world, but it can be difficult. I know this is true as I get older and I try to grapple with the ghosts of my past and the experiences that have left “recordings” that I am not always happy with. In my mind I wish to become a more educated and reasonable person especially in terms of race and different religions. I have had a lot of experience in these areas, but still have things I need to “learn”. During the last few weeks I have determined that I know where my anger comes from and why I feel the way I do about certain subjects. As people comment I am sure that I will receive negative comments. That is okay. Changing is hard and part of changing is hearing hard “truths” and telling hard “truths”.

I was born in the 60’s and had parents who worked in the civil rights movement and marched with Martin Luther King. My father did some, but I have to admit my mother was the real driving force in the family when it came to instilling the civil rights message to us kids. At least I remember her discussing it with me frequently. From the time I was 8 years old and older she would discuss these issues with me. I was her sounding board of sorts.I understood her passion on the subject. She was always one to try and stand up for the underdog for the repressed. Even though she herself suffered terribly from a bad domestic situation and her own issues.

When I was around 11 or 12 she started bringing a black man around the house. She had started dating him and they were actually together off and on for many years. She also dated men from India. She had a particular fascination for the culture. She was a Sociologist/Anthropologist and specialized in the Hindu culture. During the early 70’s  a woman dating a man of “color” was a no, no. Especially in Connecticut. We were immediately ostracized by our neighbors and when I went to school I was teased mercilessly. The first year of high school I had guys approach me and proposition me. Asking me if I would “date” them and how much did I “cost” since my Mom was a prostitute so was I. I told them she wasn’t and they said any white woman who dates a black man is a whore and that means you are a whore. This man she dated had “issues” and molested me when I was 11 or 12. She had him arrested, but still saw him away from the house. She told me later the only reason that she had him arrested was to get him treatment for his mental health issues. I hated her for that for the longest time.

I wish I could say that I came out of all of this unscathed. I didn’t. I couldn’t even think of having a black man touch me or person of color touch me for that matter. I felt horrible about it because intellectually I knew it was stupid and there was no difference, and they were not “him” but I just couldn’t. There are other things that happened to me that added to all of this, but that is for another time, another story. I eventually did grow out of most of this and I have had some very good friends of all races; Black, Filipino, Mexican, Asian. Wonderful, intelligent, talented human beings. One of the best people I ever knew that Mom dated was named Leroy. He was a black man who was a fire dancer. He was actually very good. He was bisexual, mostly homosexual, but he and my mother did love one another. More as friends toward the end of his life, but he was a very kind and generous person and the first black man that I felt completely comfortable hugging me and that wasn’t until my late 20’s. He and I talked about what had happened to me and he was so kind and understanding about it and he never judged me for how I was feeling.

I have a friend named Saleemah who I met in the Navy. Writing this reminds me I need to give her a call and say hello. She is black and is a Muslim. She is someone I truly admire. She went from being a Cardiovascular Technician in the Navy to being a Physician’s Assistant. I guess what i am trying to say is that I truly feel that I have made huge strides in my feelings toward race. Much of it having to do with my mother’s early teachings and using intellect and reason to truly look at what drives my feelings towards those of other races. I have my faults still and hear the underlying “tracks” from my early life come through what I am “recording” now, but I am working on erasing them.

Okay here are some of my beliefs and why I have issues with some things concerning Black and White relations:

1. In no way am I naive enough to believe that everything is hunky dory for the black community. I know there are still big hurdles to overcome when it comes to relations between the races.

2. I believe in equality for all people. That means ALL.

3. I do not believe that slavery of any kind should be tolerated. It is an abomination to God and scourge to all mankind.

4. I do not believe that the color of our skin defines us as human beings or as individuals. Our worth should be defined by who we are and what we do to others.

5. I know that if I was to meet a black man or a man of color and I was not married I know that I could have a relationship with him. (This is something relatively new for me and any reservations I may still have has more to do with what happened to me when I was a child.)

6. I do not believe in reparations.I have earned everything that I have on my own. I did not receive special scholarships, there were no special “white” people programs. If anything I experienced discrimination of different kinds due to being poor and having a mother who dated men of other races, and she was white during Affirmative Action implementation. She lost her job, a woman with a Master’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology to a black woman who worked with Social Services, but had no other education. The black woman was given a scholarship and the job on condition that she finished her degree. My mother came home crying. She told me I had to understand that sacrifices were going to have to be made in order to make things right for the black community. But she was afraid because she had her own children to feed. She couldn’t get food stamps because she made a dollar too much. That was the only time I saw her angry about the race issue. She said if she was black or Latino she would have been given aid.Affirmative Action was needed. It served a purpose. It spurred new laws to help diminish discrimination in the workplace. Laws that were necessary and right. It didn’t make us any less hungry. It took her years to get another job that would allow her to provide somewhat decently for her family. The black community was no kinder at times to us because she was a white woman who dated a black man. They thought she was a whore as much as the white people did.

The other thing about reparations is that if black people can claim reparations so can the Native Americans and so can the Irish who were sold into slavery by the English to the colonists. I was called a “Whiner” by another poster on another blog when I brought up the fact that there were white slaves as well and that I had family that were essentially “slaves”. The Irish were first sold into slavery by James II to the colonists.

“”From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

“During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.”” (The Irish Slave Trade-The forgotten “White slaves” by John Martin, see link)

The link below describes the situation. Why is it that black people get upset when we remind them that there were white slaves that were treated even worse than black slaves because they were of less “value” than the African slaves? Do they think that admitting that there were others that suffered worse than the black slaves diminishes in any way what happened to their ancestors? Or by admitting such a thing they would have to admit that they are not the only ones who should be entitled to reparations and that it would take away their “special” place in history as a down trodden people? It does and it doesn’t.  I have ancestors on my father’s side that were “indentured servants” a nice word for slaves. Should I ask for reparations from England for centuries of slavery of my ancestral people? I asked someone that on a blog site and they said I was a racist and missed the point? Ummmm NOT! Slavery and denigration of the human spirit has no limitation in skin color.

What about the blacks who owned slaves? They were a small percentage, but they existed. One of the richest women in the civil war era was a black woman in Louisiana I believe who owned her own plantation and over 170 slaves. Yes, some black slave owners bought their own family members to protect them, but there were more that bought and treated slaves no differently than their white counterparts. Sin is sin it also knows no skin color. Are you going to research these families and ask for reparations from them? And what about the Africans who would go out and war against tribes, defeat them and then sell those they defeated into slavery. This was the primary source of African slaves. Do you ask them for reparations?

If there were any race of people that I feel should receive reparations it should be the Native Americans. The systematic Genocide and destruction of an entire culture of people for “Manifest Destiny” is the shame that America was built upon, even before slavery became entrenched in this country. And the sooner  America truly comes to terms with that fact instead of glossing it over, the better it will be for all of us. The Native American people ask only for what is owed them per the original treaties, heck we would owe them Manhattan and a couple of states, yet they do not ask for reparations. There is no reparation that will wipe away what was done to their people. Honoring what promises are in place and moving on is what needs to be done. I found an article that describes how Hitler used the what happened to the Native Americans as a guide to the Jewish Holocaust.

The Chinese that were brought to work on the railroad, while they “volunteered” were locked into contracts that made them virtual slaves.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076

http://www.iearn.org/hgp/aeti/aeti-1997/native-americans.html

http://www.jewishjournal.com/sacredintentions/item/hitlers_inspiration_and_guide_the_native_american_holocaust

http://www.theroot.com/articles/history/2013/03/black_slave_owners_did_they_exist.html

http://blackinventor.com

No one handed me anything. I was raised by a Grandmother who taught me a work ethic. Do not expect anything from anyone. Work and Earn what you have. Asking people now to pay reparations for all that time ago is only going to cause more hard feelings. That is all I expect from people. Work for what you have. Do not expect a handout. I know where some of my anger comes into play is the fact that I and my family did suffer from the affects of Affirmative Action, racism and prejudice. And yet I and my family members worked hard and made our way. We succeeded from hard work. I cannot and will not say that I owe anyone anything. I do not nor do the majority of Americans that are alive today. We had nothing to do with what happened all those years ago. There are things that we can do as a race today that can help to heal the wounds though.

7. I believe in teaching our children the horrible history of slavery, the genocide of the Native American, the forgotten slave trade of the Irish and essential slavery of immigrants from Asia. We should teach them about the accomplishments of those of color in our nation. We need to teach our children and each other to have empathy and compassion for all people and to value their contributions in the making of this great nation as a whole. Everyone’s contributions. This nation was not founded and it did not succeed upon the back of the white man only. No matter what anyone says. All due credit should be given in our history books to those black people and others who have made great contributions to our country. Such as the first open heart surgery was performed by a black surgeon. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. He needs to be in the medical books and in the history books. He does not get the credit he deserves.

I have included a link to a page that lists several notable black entrepreneurs and inventors throughout history in America.

What I know needs to be done is to educate all of us on how to get along and how to empower each other as human beings. It is not fair for the black community to disparage those of their race that have succeeded using the opportunities that have been opened to them. I read a blog post earlier this month that basically called black people that raise themselves up economically as being sell outs in a manner of speaking. Oprah and a few others like her were on a list of “Uncle Tom’s”. What a load &*$^$^. I knew of a black boy who was “forced” to get lower grades because there were other black kids around him who told him he was selling out if he used the “white man’s” system to get ahead. I was dumb founded because that is so stupid. He eventually studied on his own and graduated early to get away from it. My son was harassed at one high school and we had to move because he refused to get lower grades than the black boys that were in his classroom and they were failing. He was threatened with being beaten if he didn’t. We ended up moving to get him away from that school.

My father quit teaching because he was teaching at a private school and there was a black girl attending. She would not take her tests, would not hand in her homework. My father thought she was very smart and didn’t understand at first what she was doing. It became clear when he gave her a failing grade because she didn’t do the work. She went home, told her parents my father was a racist and was discriminating against her. My father was told by the school to give her a passing grade and my father refused, chewed out the school board and the parents because they were enabling her; Teaching her that she could pull the race card to get what she didn’t earn. He quit that day and never went back to teaching I had wondered why because he loved teaching. After he died I found some notes he had made on the incident in his teaching journal.

This same person who called me a “whiner” also said that I basically didn’t know what I was talking about and that I needed to get a life and if I really wanted to do something I would do something about the problem instead of being a part of it. Well, this is what got me thinking all of this time. There are times that I have responded to posts concerning race in a reactionary way and I need to keep a cool and level head and make an informed, rational and fair comment. I know there are still loads of problems that white people need to overcome in race issues. What I can do is to confront issues of race and inequality. I can call people out when they act in a racist manner. I can continually work on my perceptions and how I deal with people of other races, especially black people. Again I think that feelings that I have concerning certain issues have to do with what happened to me as a child.

I have decided not to write about things I think the black community needs to do to improve their situation themselves. I don’t know enough. Most my opinions have been formed by the media and impressions from others. So, I need to do more research. I would truly like to be part of the solution and not the problem and I promise I will work on that.

America and Americans have been getting quite a bit of flack lately. We are self-absorbed, imperialist, meddling, pigs. Perhaps that is true, but that is not all we are. We are capable of great compassion and generosity. We are capable of arguing and discussing and working on problems. Tough problems. Problems that involve human rights and civil liberties. We have changed so much and I truly feel that as long as these topics, especially the race topic is discussed there is the potential for change and reform. We can all work together to accomplish this. One of the things I remember from my mother’s discussion is her absolute belief in the message of Martin Luther King and other Civil rights workers. We need to respect each other for being human beings regardless of color. That there was and is potential for a much better future for all of us.

 

 

 

 

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Published by

pavanneh

Retired Navy Cardiovascular Technician/Respiratory Therapist. Wife, mother, grandmother.

37 thoughts on “Racism, Genocide, Reparations and Respect”

      1. Oh yes… I was, coincidentally, planning a post on racial behaviour in my country, and your post arrived. I like what you wrote. Very much.

  1. Intensely written, and straight from your heart. I’m so sorry for what happened in the past, and appreciate that you’re working to be more informed. It’s the best we can do. My mom was always ashamed to be half Irish, being born in 1923. I didn’t understand this mentality till recently, as I’ve learned more about the “indentured servants.” Being a white woman teaching at a primarily black high school (97%,) I have had the race card thrown at me several times. It hurts to the core. But I rise above, as best I can, and try to be kind while educating others about more than themselves. Those who don’t understand can be hurtful. But by helping them learn, we also learn. Keep on keepin’ on!

    1. Thank you Nance. That is the goal I guess to continue working with people who don’t understand or remain ignorant for various reasons to educate them the equality of man. No matter what your color.

  2. Well written and honest. Many if these thoughts we all struggle with and according to our own experiences things work easier or harder. You seems to know your self and are capable of an analysis of your thoughts and feelings, that is strong!

    1. Thanks. It was hard to write and harder to accept that I still have issues to work on. I think it is easier to just say “well that’s the way I am” or “that’s just how I feel” instead of looking into yourself and really looking to see the “truths” and changing how you are and how you feel.

  3. This is perfect Pavanne. Not only did you offer the world a very real issue, but you showed your readers HOW you came to work through your personal demons. You started at the beginning, walking us slowly through each step and it is beautiful. You shared some very bold truths. I love them and I love you.

    Society has closed its eyes to brutal truths. We are the reminders for the world. They will lash out and say horrible things that will attack who you are as a person, attack your for your prior beliefs that you no longer hold, and attack you for daring to be brutally honest.

    Let me offer advice that has enabled me to speak in brutal truths. Stop accepting anything less than a respectful conversation or debate. The second a person stops being respectful, I shut down the conversation. When an anonymous person sends a comment, the second they insult me, I stop reading and move on. Their words are full of hate but is only hate directed at the wrong person. No sense bothering yourself with it.

    You are such a beautiful soul Pavanne and I believe you may have found your calling during the end times. Perhaps you are to be the world’s reminder that we are all the same in our differences. Judge not the book cover but rather the content contained within. You judged and became jaded yet found your way back to complete acceptance.

    Show others the way. Lead them to acceptance. It’s a huge task but I think you have been given all the tools necessary to succeed. I can’t wait to see you fly because angel, I think you’re ready to soar.

    1. Thank you so much hon. I was really scared to do this post because I exposed so much of myself in it. I was worried I would have so many people calling me out on it and saying I was wrong and I wouldn’t know where to go from there. Thanks for your thoughts and support. They mean so much to me.

      1. You are so welcome. I feel so incredibly blessed to count you among my friends. The connection I feel to you is out of this world!

        Please don’t worry about putting yourself out there. You have a gift that needs to be shared. Pray for protection and continue on the path I believe God has set you on.

        My thoughts and support are here for you always because the truth is your thoughts and support mean the world to me. I coudn’t imagine not being there for you. Your words have comforted me in some of my darker moments.

        When you get nervous or start to doubt or even afraid, lean on me. I can stand the extra weight.

        I love you Pavanne.

  4. I just want to say and I should have put in my piece was that there is a huge difference between a hand out and expecting something for nothing and getting a “hand up”. There should be programs that help transition people of all color off of welfare and other social programs. There needs to be programs that provide “rewards” and “incentives” for rebuilding communities from within. Programs that build people up instead of leaving them stagnant in pools of despair with no way to get out. And that is exactly what our current system does. That is what builds fear of others, hatred, distrust, envy and general social unrest. Personal dissatisfaction and hopelessness continues to feed into the cycle of poverty and violence. Until we find a way to really help people succeed then there will be no end to it. I have witnessed this myself. People who were lucky enough to get into social programs, took advantage of the opportunities given them and worked hard were much happier and secure. Life and the paths it leads us on is never easy at times. But, that is what helps us to grow and evolve into better beings. May we all find that path.

  5. what an honest and eye opening post!! i never knew about the irish slave trade, although i’ve known about irish discrimination for a while – my bf k has his extremely posh accent though his irish ancestors through his mum’s side, who had to put on a fake accent to hide their origins. i think your post here is one of the most inspiring and powerful i’ve read in a while, it’s simply amazing!

    1. I had actually forgotten all about that. I knew there were white slaves, but I didn’t understand the background of it. I hadn’t realized how devastating the “White Slave” trade had been to the Irish. When I did some research on the family background I found out I had some Irish indentured servants on my mother’s side I believe, back in Ireland. I don’t remember for sure, but I know our family has a strong Irish/Scottish background on both my mother and father’s side. My father was only third generation German American on his father’s side. We know our family clan on the Scottish side the Irvines. My father was actually inducted into the clan when he proved lineage.

  6. I must admit I’ve only scanned over this post so far but I will return to read when I have more time. One thing for certain, I know it is from your heart and your commitment to learn and evolve and your honesty is so very admirable. I like that. 😉

  7. Very well written. It took so much courage to write this and I think you did an incredible job. My son is in an interracial marriage, although I rarely give it any thought, and his baby will be biracial. This is such a touchy topic with so many people. I applaud you for tackling such a sensitive subject that has touched your life in so many lasting ways.

    1. Thank you! I have had friends who were mixed race and know some of the issues they encountered from it. They are beautiful people and have beautiful children.

  8. This is by far one of the most lucid and multi-faceted blog posts on race in the US today that I have ever read, and is enhanced by your own personal accounts . I am especially glad you brought up the history of irish slavery-I wrote an extensive research paper on “indentured servitude” when I was in high school taking AP US history. It does’t matter whether the slave merchants were black, or whether the slaves themselves were white, or vice versa-slavery is slavery and is brutal and dehumanizing in any form.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments. I have succeeded in doing what I intended. To try and write a fair and balanced accounting of my life experiences and what I know about the topic. It is such an important issue and I feel that we are not keeping it in the forefront the way we should as a nation. Not to antagonize or throw around blame but to tell the truth to all sides and work on solutions for once and for all.

  9. Pavanneh, what a brave and thoughtful post!!! You rock! And you have educated me, Pavanneh! I knew about the indentured servants – but not the extent of it!! And hadn’t made the connection to white slavery. You’ve really got me thinking.
    Another blog I follow alerted me to an article in the Atlantic Review on the matter of reparation which I have yet to read. It looks very interesting. From my first glance I think it puts the case for reparation. I wouldn’t dare to presume what the solution ought to be in the US.
    Another blogger recommended the Wind the Shakes the Barley – it was a brilliant and deeply disturbing movie.
    And then there’s Edward P Jones book: The Known World – he got the Pulitzer for it. He tackles the issue of black ownership of slaves. Have you read it?
    Anyway, Well done, you, for putting it out there!

    1. I am going to try and read some more on reparation and perhaps specifically look at articles that argue for it. Perhaps I am bull headed but I do not think reparations are the way to go. It is only going to increase racial tensions. There are too many people who would be so angry over it. I am thinking of renting the Wind that Shakes the Barley or at least rent the book from Amazon. I had not heard of Edward P Jones’ book. I will need to see if I can find that as well. Thanks for your support and reading my post. It means a lot to me that people are reading it.

      1. It’s a gripping read, Pavanneh!
        I was wondering whether to add this bit! Decided I would:
        In my country the government has been making treaty settlements to iwi (tribes) whose land was illegally snatched from them despite the Treaty of Waitangi. As you have seen me write before about situation here: it’s complicated! The settlements have been hugely controversial. But I have to say that I like that the iwi in my region now has the resources to invest in regional infrastructure. They say they have been here for a thousand years and know they will be here for another thousand. And I think that does make a difference to how they approach things. It’s an approach I like, that gives me hope.
        When the settlements were first being proposed there were a lot of people who were worried it would make things worse. I haven’t seen much sign of that, myself.
        But it’s early days yet, in another generation or two we might know whether this is the solution I hope it is. I guess my eventual grandchildren will be among the judges.
        And, this response is particular to the NZ situation. I’m not proposing it as a solution to the situation you have elucidated so well. I think talking, discussing, reviewing, sharing, like you are doing, is the best first step forward.

  10. Wow, this is a heavy article. It is rich in personal and historical information, and full of potentially controversial topics. You told your story well. I do not see how anyone can accuse you of being a racist, and of missing the point. Truth be told, you are not the only one who is still resolving personal racist issues. Many people admit to being racist when they are amongst people they can trust. Did you receive any negative feedback from this article?

    1. Not yet. I am not sure what anyone could really say as I tried to state fair and unbiased facts and my own personal experiences. Lol..that doesn’t mean someone at some point. And that is okay. I am ready for it. I might get irritated if the comments are truly ignorant, but that is what discussion is about. Not everyone is going to agree with me.

  11. I was born and raised in Europe. English is my second language. I was born in the 60’s, the first generation after WWII. My Grandfather spent time in a concentration camp, because one in my Grandmother’s family was Jewish. I truly wish we all would be equal, but I know it’s just one of my wishes. A lot of people fear what they don’t understand. I enjoyed your post and your outlook!

  12. This is an incredible post Pavanneh. There is SO much of your heart in it in addition to all of information you share. I love how you own the effect of your own history. You obviously have done so much processing, growing and healing, are open to doing even more. I appreciate how open you have been to me. I have felt very respected by you.

    I have written down some of the movies and books that have been described and will likely look for them.

  13. There’s a whole lot to take in here. It’s funny how hypocritical people can be when it comes to race – using one standard for themselves and another for others.

    This post is very enlightening.

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    you should build quality backlinks , it will help you to get more visitors.
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