Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Racism Again

Last week when racial tensions in the States were exploding over the shooting of Black teen Trayvon Martin, we had an incident here in San Miguel. Compared with what was happening at home, this was nothing—a good, Southern, Christian woman had too much to drink at a party, the alcohol eliminated her social filters, and she started throwing the “N” word around.

I wasn’t shocked that people in this community might use that word—we have our share of Republicans that in all likelihood means a few Tea Partiers. But I was surprised that a white person would say it out loud at a social gathering. That word in white peoples’ mouths was one of the things I hoped to eliminate from my life when I decided to live outside the US. Not the word, per se, but the sentiment behind it that my African roots make me a lesser human being. I know that as long as I live in a community includes white Americans it’s possible that I’ll bump up against this attitude. And have considered moving to Ghana, more than once. Yea, yea, I know there are white people in Ghana, but they’re not a powerful minority.

There it was again, racial bigotry right up in my face. What pissed me off the most was that since moving to San Miguel this has receded deep into the background. I’d had one racial incident here but it was laughable. A Mexican worker of Spanish decent—I only mention his linage because this country has its version of Black get back between its Spanish and Indio lines—told me to go back to Africa. He’d done shoddy working and I was bitching about it. When he said it I was shocked, for a moment, but started to laugh and told him to get the hell out of my house. Mexico has its bigotry, but their prejudices are not directed toward me.

When I was in my late 30s, I decided that after spending the majority of my life in the bigoted United States, I wanted to live somewhere, for my last quadrant, where my color was not an impediment. I’ve been comfortable San Miguel but now wonder if the total lack of civility that now permeates the States is going to spill over into this American community here. Once again I’m faced with the question,

how much do I want this late 30s dream and how far away from the place where I grew up am I willing to move to achieve it?