An editorial in the Washington Post today: “Is it time to call Trump the ‘f’ word?” I wondered – fucker? failure? But of course, it’s fascist. And yes, yes it is. As we’ve been saying for years, just when you think he can’t go lower, the situation cannot get worse, he does, it does, deep into a pit of unimaginable vileness.
This does feel like a turning point, though. Surely the spotlight on police actions will never again be turned off. Another article today about police officers fired yesterday for relatively minor offences – a racist FB post, pushing a peaceful protestor to the ground. Enough. Enough. Enough.
My daughter is quick to say that racism in Canada is alive and well, and I know it is. But we do not bear the deep wound of slavery here – in fact, the reverse, we welcomed freed and escaping slaves. Our racism was directed more to our Indigenous peoples. But I know it’s very much still here. How tragic that human beings have historically been insular, intolerant, tribal.
Before we moved to Ottawa in 1983, I was there looking for a house for us to rent; my dear aunt Do drove me to meet the couple who might sublet their house to us. On the way, she said, “When you introduce yourself, use your married name, not your maiden name. It’ll just be easier, won’t it?” It took me a moment to realize – she meant I’d be more acceptable if I didn’t use my own Jewish last name. She would never have called herself racist, and yet she was. I carry it too. My children don’t understand why I used to feel the need to say, “I met an interesting black writer.” They’re offended by that, because they don’t register race the way I do. Growing up in Halifax, I did meet Haligonians of colour, because my parents were involved in the civil rights movement; they helped the Freedom Singers come to town. But my schoolmates were all white, and I had not a single friend of another race; my most exotic friend was adopted. My grandsons’ schoolmates come from every background on earth. Colour is invisible to them.
Year by year, we are learning a different way to be with each other. But obviously, it’s not happening fast enough.
In the meantime, today I’d like to post pictures of my heroes – my friends Nicole and Holly, who spent yesterday downstairs in the filthy basement apartment cleaning – washing walls, shelves, cupboards, floors, doors. Holly spent hours just scouring the fridge and scraping off the smiley face scrawled in crayon on the wall. They chatted and sang as they worked on a beautiful afternoon. Grateful. Onward.