Tales from the Van: Not alright to be white

Sometimes stories come to me from the strangest of places – the back of my retinal screening van, for one! Recently I was surprised and pleased that in the middle of an appointment, my ears pricked up almost of their own accord, and I started listening intently as I realised that the gentleman was telling me his story. And I should listen.

I had been telling him about the Old Soldier, who had been there for the Normandy landings. The chap commented “I know – kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it”, and then launched into his story. I got chills. And as soon as he was gone, I grabbed my notebook and jotted down everything I could remember…

…about the time he almost got shot for being white.

f5b9b-talesfromthevanHe was an unusual patient from the offset, with strangely shaped bifocal sections in his very round glasses, which made his eyes look vastly out of proportion to his face. His white hair was tied back into a neat ponytail with an elastic hairband, the bright, candy-striped colours of which would have delighted a nine year-old girl. His shirt had cartoons all over it, and he completed the effect with a neat, white goatee. He was wonderfully courteous – courtly, even – in manner, and I got the impression that here was a gentleman who took pride in being a gentleman, no matter how slightly eccentric his look.

There we were, then, in the almost-dark, gently lit by the glow of the laptop, and he started talking.

40 years ago he had been offered a contract with his job, which required a move to Johannesburg, South Africa, for two years. He and his wife upped sticks and moved over, finding themselves a place to stay, and he worked and did well for himself. But towards the end of the two years, the Soweto uprising took place, when the government tried to make it mandatory for black students to be taught certain subjects in Afrikaans – as far as they were concerned; the language of their oppressors. It was a vastly unpopular move, and the black students staged protests. The police were called to help manage matters, but some of the children started throwing stones at them. And so a police officer fired the first shot in what was to prove a violent and disastrous time.

Many blacks (including children) were hurt or killed – 21 in the first day alone, along with two whites, and some of the other townships began to riot in sympathy, against apartheid and the separation and oppression they felt. My patient was scared, as feelings were running high in his neighbourhood, and he found it necessary to carry a gun to work.

Because SkinThe blacks continued to attack the whites, with the military being brought in to assist the police in restoring peace to the area. My patient and his newly pregnant wife were walking outside one day in the streets, when a shot rang out, and a white man just a few paces ahead of them dropped to the floor – dead, just for the colour of his skin. It could just as easily have been either of them.

They decided that the final few months of the contract weren’t worth remaining in danger for, so they broke it, and came home to England ahead of schedule, to reestablish themselves and have a baby. She was happy and healthy and is now 36, and they don’t regret one bit of their decision to return to safety.

Sometimes the world, or the authorities at the very least, need to experience an uprising in order to clue them into the strength of passion their oppressed minorities are feeling, I’m quite convinced. But when it comes to hurting others, that’s where I struggle to support the cause – when it turns to hatred and violence perpetrated against fellow humans in the name of whatever.

Living in intensely multicultural England, I am rather insulated from racism. I know it exists here. I know awful things happen here because of it, and because of man’s determination to segregate society based on the most arbitrary things. But I don’t see it often, and when I do, I am shocked and saddened by it.

That anyone should be subject to ostracism, hatred or negativity based on something as (really, yes) silly as the colour of their skin or the features of their inherited biology strikes me as ridiculous. And it sickens me, because underneath, we’re all the same.

We all feel happy and sad and hungry and eager and accomplished and distraught in the same ways. We all enjoy and relax and relate to others and find our people and make connections and develop a sense of self, in ways which bear striking similarity (in terms of emotional landscape) as every human across the world and in all generations before us.

We’re all angry the same and upset the same and delighted the same and enthusiastic the same.

We all hurt the same.

We all love the same though, too, and in the end, isn’t that what matters?

That we love.

Because in this world – this complex, amazing, broken, glorious, intensely painful, messy world – we have to realise that no matter our heritage; our looks; our background or future or who we know or the things we’ve gone through, we all belong to each other.

I don’t have a dream – I have a reality, where we must love each other, because we’re all in this together.

I’m just waiting for the day when everyone’s cottoned on.

…or perhaps I’m just naive.

 

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86 thoughts on “Tales from the Van: Not alright to be white

  1. This is my 1st time to your blog (found it through Bloppies), so excuse me if I’m a bit confused by this story. You say that 21 Black people were killed on day 1, but the truly sad part was the 1 White guy who was killed “just for the colour of his skin”??? You also say, “The blacks continued to attack the whites, with the military being brought in to assist the police in restoring peace to the area.” PEACE?!?! Restoring “peace” meant to continue oppression. Over 100 Black people were murdered during this uprising and thousands more before then. I hope that you read more about apartheid and Youth Day (the Soweto Uprising) to get a better understanding of the horrific holocaust caused by White people against Black South Africans.

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    • I think you’ll find, if you re-read, that I very carefully stayed away from expressing opinions about the content of racism which lay in these times. At no point did I say there was a ‘truly sad part’. Nor would I, and I don’t appreciate the inference that casts.

      I also think you’ll find I stayed away from historical commentary, offering instead the story my patient had to tell, using the perspective from which he told it.

      I make no pretenses to understanding apartheid, nor do I attempt to offer commentary on the atrocities which were committed by any one set of people against any other. I am merely sharing a story I was told. That. Is. All.

      It saddens me somewhat that you would choose to misread my piece in this way, but it is your right to do, if you so choose.

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  2. These stories are so important to hear. I’m not sure why, but this reminded me of all the Holocaust survivors whose stories have been recorded so they will live on after everyone who lived through the horror is gone. How easy it would be to forget acts of racism and hate ever existed without testaments to their veracity. It’s one thing to read about them in a textbook; it’s quite another to hear them from someone who experienced it.

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    • Yes – I think this is the thing which has struck me most so far – these people have LIVED it – they’ve not just passed it on or heard about it via another (as I have) but they were THERE. They saw, smelt, felt, touched and tasted it. And it’s real, because they were part of it. It’s stunning and humbling all at once.

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  3. Innocent people die every day because of the power struggle to be superior to another race. It is heartbreaking that people die because of ignorance and a greedy obsession with territory and power. I am glad the guy and his family got out and could share his story because we need to hear about the devastation from all perspectives, it is easy to dismiss the racism white people can experience, it is indeed a universal disease regardless of the root cause. And yes, All we need is love, and love can heal most of the wounds. πŸ™‚

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    • It’s interesting cos I think in England where we’re SO careful about being appropriately careful and politically correct, there grows an inverse disadvantage sometimes, particularly felt by young, lower class, white males – they just don’t tick enough boxes to get a job, a lot of the time. But yes – power struggles suck and in a way we’d all be better off with a genuinely benevolent dictatorship, I think. It’s horrible to know that such needless waste is caused cos of people’s greed and ignorance.

      “All we need is love” – if only that were true.

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      • Yep indeed the reality for alot of the lower white middle class is bleak largely because of a lack of positive role model’s to aspire to, a distinct lack of employment opportunities, discriminatory attitudes towards their cultural choices, and limited access to further education and sustainable jobs that offer a living wage and a positive sense of purpose. The decimation of industry has a lot to do with this. And hahah before I go off on one, yea it stinks. ‘All we need is love’ if only there was more love going into supporting and enabling people to have the quality of life and justice they deserve…. Awww your post opened a wee box there. πŸ™‚

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  4. I still don’t understand how in this day and age people still can’t see beyond appearance. I worked in a busy ER in Detroit and did you know that light skinned black people hated darker skinned black people…and sweet lord if you were a black nurse or a black doctor, black patients wanted a white one.
    How sad is that? Prejudice just because of your skin colour.
    As my son says, we all have the same junk.

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    • Your son is wise.

      I struggle to believe those levels of racism have gone so very deep, and that lighter skin is somehow more worthwhile. Whoever the hell came up with that idea GOOFED. Bigtime. And it sucks. So sorry to hear about what you’ve witnessed.

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  5. You may say I’m a dreamer…
    But I’m not the only one…
    I hope someday you join me…
    And the world will live as one.

    LOVE this. LOVE these stories. Nuggets of experience, history, wisdom, and above all- lessons, we all need to learn.

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    • Yeah – I could’ve gone with that either. NICE CALL πŸ˜€ We’ll keep dreaming, huh, Kitty?

      I’m pleased you like these. I have fun collecting them and writing them and YES sharing the lessons which *I* learn from my patients. Thank you.

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  6. Loved reading this and loved the Beatles song you included. One of my favorites: both versions, this one and the one from ‘The White Album’.
    Cheers,
    Lance

    I have worked (in Iraq) with lots of folks from South Africa. Some of them were (sadly) racists, but most were not.

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    • Now, I have a funny relationship with the Beatles, because I have been a die-hard Beach Boys fan FOREVER, and if you asked me, I would still pick them, BUT…I keep discovering new songs which I *love*, and later discover are by the Beatles so…there’s that! I own no albums though. I’m glad this is one of your favourites – there’s something about those grinding, growly guitar sections which goes *right* through me. I love it.

      And on another note…I’m glad to hear that you’ve known South Africans who weren’t racists. I have only (knowingly) known three South Africans, none of whom were racist, but I’ve heard tales, one of which has scarred me inside and I still can’t purge the image. Racism is an awful, terrifying thing. And needless, too.

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  7. You are speaking to my heart. We are all the same. We all came from the same place. I don’t understand why (some) people don’t get that. Different race, different religion, different sexual orientation… who effin’ cares? If people could just stop being afraid of different, we could save ourselves a lot of heartache and conflict. I grew up and still live in the southern U.S. I have seen my fair share of racism, though it usually comes in things muttered under one’s breath. Still vile, still disgusting. Thank you for sharing your patient’s story. And thank you for your beautiful words. They give me hope. I hope people do “cotton on.”

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    • Ack. I’m sorry you have to live where you encounter things muttered under the breath. It’s unpleasant even to be near. I really hope people figure out soon that this kind of attitude only damages them, and is helpful to no-one.

      The thing is, in the end, what matters is that we care for one another and look after one another and the whole ‘let’s find a difference so I can justify being mean’ thing is so desperately awful. I don’t know why we (species) are so capable of finding a way to void another person’s humanity just so we can have a pop at them. It hurts. And it’s unnecessary.

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  8. I absolutely loved this Lizzi and it’s one of the things that I can’t wait for someday. To be able to share stories from my work (no can do now)! As with so many conflicts around the world and inner country strife South Africa was yet again a horrible story of violence. I completely agree with you that for all intents and purposes we “put on our pants the same way each morning.” You are so spot on about Love yet unfortunately until folks are able to get out of their own way, their own ego, their religion and their thoughts on another skin color…we are not going to have change globally most of us hope for. That is so very sad but I will always hope and pray for that change to come πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Mike. I would LOVE to hear stories from your work one day – the ones from your kitchen and your garden are already great – what must your work ones be like?! πŸ™‚

      I like that expression “We put on our pants the same way in the morning” – did you come up with it? Sums it up really nicely, and I just wish more people thought that way. It’s such a shame that we humans are so determinedly divisive, when the opposite is what’s needed! Just WHYYYYYY, people?!

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  9. You can sit inside a van and have the world come to you, in more ways than one, and be open enough to let it trigger in you important opinions and sentiments, and conscientious enough to share it, not just factually, but creatively. It’s special. You are special.

    It really is a beautiful, broken world. And we do all belong to one another. All of us too, beautiful and broken.

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    • This might be one of my favourite comments then…wow! Thank you πŸ˜€

      I just get inspired, and then want to share. I am at heart a storyteller, even if the story isn’t mine. And where the story has deep meaning for humanity and is in the interests of us all getting along better and understanding one another more, I am only too PLEASED to pass it on.

      Love my job for this πŸ™‚

      We belong to each other. Of that I am sure.

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  10. How wonderful is this! The way you told the story, I mean. The content, people getting shot because of their skin, is just beyond sad. I don’t think you’re naive. Not at all. The world around us, people who still uses racism, are naive for thinking on such a small scale. The world is a wondrous place. Embrace the differences and learn, not be afraid of it and judge and kill. Annoyance.

    Thank you for sharing his story. πŸ™‚

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    • Awwh thank you, Apfel – I’m glad you liked it so much. I’m working on my storytelling skills. I think I’m getting there. And my soapbox skills came out a bit with this one – it hurts my heart that people do such incredibly cruel things to one another for so little reason and a whole bunch of ignorance.

      We all need to learn to behave kindly to one another, more of the time πŸ™‚

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  11. This is a magical series! I just love it. You are fortunate to meet people who can give you a look at life in a different time and place. So far you have managed two incredibly dramatic and important pieces in history. Living in the South, racism is something I see every day, if only in the most subtle of ways. This is an incredible story, so frightening. I cannot imagine the fear and am very happy to hear that this man and his family made it out safely. I truly love the way you described this gentleman, too. I love being able to get a visual of him. Your attention to detail is outstanding. I cannot wait for the next tale from the van πŸ™‚

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    • Oh gosh, I’m so glad you like the attention to detail – it really helps to know that, because in my mind, I picture the storytellers so strongly, it feels wrong to lose the person in amongst their words. I think the image of their view helps to reinforce that the story isn’t one of mine (if you see what I mean).

      Now then – someone else said that there is more racism in the south. That really sucks. Is there some historical reason for that, which I am utterly ignorant of? I can’t imagine that there’s a particularly lower class of people there, who are less educated or broad minded? Surely not in this day and age?

      It was an amazing story (this is actually the third – Beth got the first one, though it wasn’t quite the same – that was more just drama on the van!) and I feel so privileged to be able to meet these people and hear these tales as part of my job. That makes me really happy πŸ™‚

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      • It is history. Messy, messy, messy history. There’s still a lot of backlash against the Civil Rights Act. I’ve been told Southerners do not like being told what to do, that change comes slowly… and that it’s worse in rural areas than urban ones.

        Myself, I live in an area that has a lot of transplants from Oklahoma, Texas, and California. I sometimes witnessed racism first hand when I lived amongst “Southern Rebel” types.

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        • Sounds like a really tough thing to witness and deal with. I don’t imagine it’s the kind of thing which is easy to stand up to. How horrid that you’ve had to witness it. Worse that it exists at all, as far as I’m concerned.

          History is very messy. I sincerely hope it neatens up, but it does rather seem to be getting messy in other ways, which is a great shame. I guess urban areas might have the chance to be slightly more cosmopolitan and progressive in their thinking than the rural ones. I only know four southerners (that I know of) – two in Texas and two in Florida, and they’re all perfectly wonderful, gorgeous human beings. So I know that it’s not really the area which is to blame.

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          • Oh, absolutely. I have a number of Southern friends… one in Georgia asked me if I wasn’t secretly Southern myself, because of attitudes and my love of the cuisine. I told her that those moving in liking had something to do with it.

            But I’ll never forget the neighbor kid who had a jerkwad friend who said we had to be “jungle bunnies” and “try to escape” but not actually escape him being the mighty Southern soldier or some crap like that. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

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            • Good grief! And it’s just proliferative, and open, like that – in some places? *sigh*

              Much is wrong with the world, Jak, and this issue is one of those things. People gotta STOP finding reasons to view other people as ‘less than’. Good GRIEF yes they do.

              (I wouldn’t know ‘Southern Food’ if it hit me upside the head!)

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                  • You’re not the first Brit who’s given me that reaction. That just means more fried food, cole slaw, corn bread, Kool-Aid marinated pickles, okra, crawdads, gumbo, jambalaya, pecan and peach pie and cobbler, key lime pie, buttermilk biscuits with white sausage peppercorn gravy, chicken and dumplings, beans and greens, and MORE MORE MORE for me! Then there’s all the Tex-Mex food– gringo tacos, tamale pie, wet burritos…

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                    • That all sounds a BAJILLION times better than KFC. Is chicken and waffles southern? I saw that once on Man vs Food and it looked AMAZING. Dude, you made me hungry! I want to try some of that – hands down most delicious sounding list there’s been on this blog πŸ˜€

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                    • I wasn’t sure what Southern dishes had made it to the British Isles, so I tried KFC as a starting point. However, I’ve been informed that British KFC doesn’t include many other Southern dishes, so, yeah.

                      Chicken and waffles? Well, Wikipedia is always the quick reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_and_waffles
                      Never heard of a Pennsylvania Deutsch (yes, I know it’s “Dutch”, but they’re German by heritage) variation, so apparently it’s not specifically Southern.

                      You don’t have a problem with gravy over biscuits that are like savory scones? Some I talked to thought that was incredibly disgusting.

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                  • btw, you can partially blame Scottish immigrants. -AND- the English full breakfast influenced some of the cuisine… it’s very evident at many truck stop diners here

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                    • Oh that totally explains the Southern propensity to absolutely deep fat fry EVERYTHING. I’m looking to see what *hasn’t* been deep fat fried yet. So far the list includes: Oreos, Kool-Aid (it’s soaked in a batter ball), custard, ice cream, cucumber pickles, candy bars (usually of the Mars variety), butter (oh yes), “chicken fried” steak, artichokes, Coca-Cola (fried Coke), jalapeΓ±o poppers (stuffed with cream cheese, usually), mushrooms, peanuts, turkeys, Twinkies… oops, Wikipedia has a list, too, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deep_fried_foods (which includes a lot of Asian ones too)

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                    • Oh my good GRIEF! Doesn’t everyone just drop dead of a coronary after a while? Southerners must have cast-iron arteries to keep going after that onslaught! Deep fried Kool Aid? For REAL?! Wow!

                      But yes – deep fried everything – I see the link.

                      I do rather like jalapeno poppers. We can get them here in take-aways and they’re GOOOOOOOOOD. I like it spicy πŸ™‚

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  12. I guess count me in the naive group, but I do have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that in a world where we have such advancements in so many areas we still can’t figure out the most basic thing of all – how to get along with others. You know, you realize on one level that these things are indeed real and do happen and yet it’s so hard to figure out how that’s even possible. Robert Fulghum had it right – we learn all the really important things we ever need to know in Kindergarten and them promptly forget how to do them as we grow. Shame on us.

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    • That’s such a profound quote. I hope that the more we engage with this kind of thing – the more we allow our perceptions and assumptions to be challenged and altered by reality and new information (and compassion and understanding) – the better we all will be.

      These are but small ripples in a giant pond, but nonetheless, the water is moving. Things can change. I am sure of it. We have the capacity as a species to figure it out.

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  13. I don’t know if it is very naive to hope that such a day will eventually come, but I’m still hoping! It gets better and then some incident happens somewhere to remind us that it isn’t over yet!

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    • You and I can be naive dreamers together then. Because I’m sure that the tide is turning, and we’ll be on the side of the new way. But I think, sadly, incidents will always happen – maybe in less prolific numbers one day. That would be good.

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  14. I’ve missed your words. You have such a beautiful way with language. I’ll admit that I know almost nothing about the apartheid, so I really appreciated the glimpse into this man’s world…I hate that there is hate in this world, hate that there are people who will judge others for something so trivial as skin color, but thank you for reminding us that we love. Your entire piece resonated with me, but especially your final words. Chills.

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    • Awww THANK YOU! That means a lot. I’ve missed yours, too – are you writing more soon?

      I am also woefully ignorant about apartheid. As I say, I really *am* naive when it comes to these things – they’ve just never been part of my world, and I’ve been lax in researching. I know to some people, they are huge, struggly, challenging things. But I hate that there’s so much hate in this world. It hurts my heart.

      We all need reminding that we love, and TO love. And thank you πŸ™‚

      OHMIGOSH I need to email you, and I just realised the WP comment system will let me. I hope that’s not too much of an abuse of power, but I need to talk to you about something.

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      • Definitely writing more!! πŸ™‚ Just wrote my first blog post in a while, and it feels amazing to be back…and to be reading your posts again!

        Thank you again for sharing your words with us…it really does mean a lot to me! And even though these things have never been a part of your world, I love that you make an effort to understand them…and more than that, you make an effort to share what you’ve learned with others.

        And please feel free to email me anytime! πŸ™‚ If for some reason the comment system doesn’t work, I can give you my email address.

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        • I kinda maybe already got your email from your login to comment. Ergo my apology for the abuse of power πŸ˜‰ But thank you for the permission. I retrospectively accept.

          Shared learning is what makes the world go round – that’s part of why I love your posts so much (apart from that you write so well) – I get to peek into a world which is utterly beyond my ken, and experience it a little, and learn to formulate an opinion about the matter.

          And YAY! I’m glad you’ve been writing. And that you’re back.

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    • No, I know it does, and it makes me sick. Only recently there have been everything up to and including murders. I guess this is part of the whole ‘white privilege’ thing – it’s something I’m shielded from in large part due to my heritage and where I live.

      Sometimes I’m a dreamer, but in this I truly wish there was a way to be more pragmatic.

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  15. SCARY, and so very tragic. I hate stories like that because they bring reality crashing into my brain – the reality that stuff like that actually happened, and continues to happen.

    BTW – need to tell you whatever you did to your theme – LOVE. Your blog looks freakin’ amazing. Also, I’m diggin’ the “tales from the van” posts. How cool for something to come out of your work!!

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    • This isn’t the worst tale I’ve heard. Not from the van, but ever. There is one I’m not sure I can bring myself to repeat. But it hurts and I want it to stop, and I want people to start damn well being NICE to each other, no matter what they look like or who their parents were.

      Reality stinks sometimes, but in my version, *I* know that everyone’s valuable.

      And thank you! I’m not sure I’ve done anything to it since last time you were here, but I DO have fabulous plans for a new header, which I will work on this week.

      Tales from the Van is great. I’m loving them – it’s such a neat way of getting writing from work AND preserving people’s stories.

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  16. I feel as you do, growing up near Chicago in USA it’s rare to actually EXPERIENCE this, and you wonder just WTF people could possibly be thinking to have those racist thoughts. My father and a friend of mine closer to my age, grew up in the SOUTH where thinking is not as progressive. Unfortunately the misthinkings of each generation just POUND it into the brains of their children and so on. I’m glad my father started to break the cycle, though it took him longer than I’d like to admit. Some people are just AFRAID of anything that is different than they are, in appearance, in sexuality, in religion, anything. It’s sad, and very shallow. I hope we get much better much faster at realizing what’s important in this crazy world! Bloggers like you help to educate us all. Well done.
    (p.s. I LOVE the Stories from the Van series!)

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    • Awwwh fanx. Well I have to say, I am ALSO learning very much with this series. It’s incredible, and it gives me a boost going to work each morning, because each day might be THE DAY I get a new story.

      But yes – learning faster, breaking the cycle, re-educating the adults and providing appropriate thinking and role modelling to our children – those things are what need to happen. Because ignorance and fear and hatred have too strong a grip on this world, and I will work my best to fight back πŸ™‚

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  17. I don’t understand any of this kind of behavior. I don’t understand racism. I don’t understand violence. I don’t understand intolerance. It’s all so very sad.

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  18. this is a serious subject, maybe a bit touchy…I agree I can stand for a cause as well because I believe that we all should have the right of speech…yet when it becomes tainted with violence and killings then its moot because the truth at that point; no one is listening… both sides …

    while I was reading your post I was reminded how Pink was given her stage name because she simply says we are all pink inside.

    I think if we can quiet our minds and voices we can hear the whispers of reason- yet it is silly trying to reason with a tantrum you get no where and it’s easier to walk away.

    I too wish that we all get along – i wish that war will end, women have a voice, and we put down the sticks and stones….everywhere

    oops i did again; great post my dear!!!!

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    • Now that’s interesting, because I heard that P!nk got her nickname because she blushed so easily as a child! Who knows, right?

      This is a controversial topic, you’re quite right. It’s big and gnarly with sharp corners on both sides of it. I appreciate what you say about it descending into a tantrum and not being possible to reason with, but I hope that by being open to talking nicely about it, and remembering we’re all people, we can move forward. Just a little bit.

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  19. Hi, I’m new to your blog, which is by the way a very nice blog and I will be reading some of your older posts when I have the time. Something has struck my curiosity if I may ask – You say you see patients – er… what is it that you do Psychologist?

    As for the racism, I live in Namibia. Namibia used to belong to South Africa as a mandate, thus we were governed in the same Apartheid regime. I was too young then to remember it. But even today, you get racism everywhere. It is really sad, but it exists. Nowadays it is reverse racism – so to say. If I go to the government Clinique for some free medication you should just see the looks I get as a β€œformally advantaged person”. That is the politically correct term for a person of European decent i.e. a white. As a β€œformally advantaged person” you always have to be careful to use the politically correct terminology. You get accused of being racist just because you are white. Luckily I have not been subject to any violence.

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    • Hello. I’m so pleased to meet you. I’ve noticed you having a little look around, and thank you for liking it here.

      in answer to your question, my job is as a retinal screener for people with diabetes; I take a mobile clinic out in a van and take photographs of the backs of their eyes to assess for retinopathy. I’m not a psychologist, but I love to people-watch.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and your own story. It sounds like it must be very tricky to ensure you are behaving in the right way all the time, so that you can’t be misinterpreted as being racist. What a lot of pressure. I’m sorry you have to be so careful. It’s such a shame. These hurts go really deep within cultures, and I do understand that, but I wish they weren’t there in the first place.

      I really appreciate your comment. Thank you.

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      • Yes, well you get used to it and once people get to know you they know you are not racist. I also wish we could just have mutual respect for each other withought for ever having a look at the colour of a person’s skin. Your job sounds very interesting. πŸ™‚

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  20. I’m lucky that I grew up in a place where there was very little racism — I didn’t even realize there WAS racism until I was grown and had moved to a different town. So I was totally unprepared when I moved to New Orleans and suddenly found myself the target of hate because of the color of my skin. Of course, not everyone acted this way — in fact, it was the minority, not the majority — but it was jarring, because I just didn’t fathom that people acted this way towards others. I could understand not liking someone because of something they had said or done — but just for BEING? It still baffles me.

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    • I’m glad you grew up in a place which hadn’t any, or if it did, you didn’t notice it.

      So sorry to hear you found yourself the target of hatred because of it. I can’t imagine how that would feel – the closest I can relate is that once, as a teen, I had a job in a call centre, and one day I looked around the room of my co-workers for a particular shift, and realised that there was only one other white girl there, amongst a mix of other races, and I suddenly felt, very intensely, what it might be like to just BE in the minority colour group – not even with any accompanying aggro, just the sheer fact of it – and it was a very strange, profound moment of realisation, that the chances are that my co-workers LIVED that experience every day. It was highly unsettling.

      But no – it baffles me, too, that kind of hatred just for race and skin colour. I mean, I’m not stupid and I’m aware that there are cases where historical grudges are being borne, but I do really think it’s the most daft thing to perpetrate, in this day and age, and that the world should know jolly well better by now.

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  21. Another fabulous installment! I really love these stories. What a wonderful place you’re in that you get to hear them.
    As for this man, I’m glad he got to safety. Hatred of any kind is a nasty, horrible thing, and I say that knowing I still hold on to bits of it. ‘Silly’ seems to trivialize the damage racism can cause, but I understand why you chose the word. It shows how immature the feeling is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite – it’s the attitude, not the outcomes I find silly. The outcomes are awful, distressing, and disturbing to the very core. I cannot tell you the anguish I have felt at some of the things I have heard done to other humans in the name of race. Some of the absolutely the MOST AWFUL things…it hurts my heart to think of them.

      I’m glad this man got himself, his wife and his unborn baby to safety. It must have been such a terrifying time to have spent, to know that at any time, any of them could have been the victim of someone’s hatred, based on the colour of their skin. That’s such a difficult concept for me.

      But yes – thank you πŸ™‚ – I do have an absolutely AMAZING opportunity with this job, to hear such fascinating stories.

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