I am an emotional wreck. I have attended a two day seminar on racism, and it was incredibly painful. I am welling up as I write. We came so close to each others, and shared such pain, and supressed feelings. I have not felt so touched in so long, I was disarmed by it. For so long, I have felt invisible, unheard, because I am part of a multitude of nondescript people. All white, all the same, all inconsequentials. I know part of my ancestry is Montagnais, a tribe of Native Canadian (First Nation as it is know in Canada) or at least I believe that is the correct tribe, yet I know nothing of that culture, of that language, me who loves languages so. Also, as I stated today, through tears, I look nothing like that people, I look so white, so "american," and I hate that. My white skin, my redish hair, I look Irish,and I don't feel Irish. I long for my difference, for my identity. I look at my sister, with her long nose, dark straight hair, dark skin, stong brow, how native she looks, how beautiful; and she tries so hard to erase all of that, dies her hair, plucks her brow, uses lots of make up to mask her beauty. I wish I had my mom's skin which darkened, even in the winter from hanging the laundry. If you know the winter in Montreal, you know that she could not have exposed much skin for much time to gain a tan, but she did. I heard one woman say how she was told as a child that she was ugly because she looked "India." I so wish I did look "something," anything but the blandness I have.
Also, several women in the group were Jewish, and one of the men present made a derogatory commend about Jewish women, and I remembered how my mother used to call me "ma petite juive," unfortunately not as a term of endearment, but as an indication that I had been devious, sly. I don't know if she meant to be racist, but she was. And that hurts. When I think of all the beautiful jewish women I know in my life, that I love and appreciate, I wonder if she rolls in her grave that I love them? That I love the Italians that I played with as a child, in our racist neighborhood, that I love the black friends that I have, the Mexican women and men I know, would she have a problem with that? And it makes me wonder, how do we go on knowing all of that hatred is there so obvious, in your face, everyday. I am sheltered from it, because I am white, and until I open my mouth, most folks will not know I come form outside the US. And even after I do, I am excused for my "weirdness," many times, because I "look" white even when I don't feel white, or american. I don't have answers, just feelings, rising up to the surface, bringing pain and tears, and questions. I am glad I went, and met others who share painful feelings. I have attended many eye opening trainings, but maybe not so many heart opening ones.