Monday, 11 November 2013

A Challenge


Some of the BBC's most challenging work. Thank you. We should ALL see this. it's an hour long documentary - and for all the time and energy I've put into anti-racism work - I had no idea - of the history of eugenics, the American support of German eugenics leading up to the holocaust, of 30,000,000 Indians (India) allowed to starve to death while the rice and wheat cash crops they were forced to grow were lying in the port of Madras waiting to be shipped to America and England - in the 1860's + in famines because it was simply survival of the fittest - of Shark Island and Namibian massacres (the first concentration camp), of even the abolitionists' energy fading out when it became clear that Christianizing wasn't going to be enough to 'civilize' Blacks and advance the Empire... of the masses of people sterilized and killed ... yes - I know of the First Nations experience in Canada - but I have been so ignorant of the evil process that educated, Christian minds developed... OK - this is over-simplifying in one paragraph - but please - take the hour and watch it. On Remembrance Day, one of the things we say about war is that we need to remember the past or we repeat it. So, so much has been erased from our history books and teachings. And from Church teachings.

I feel a blog coming on. I began sharing this video on facebook and tried to put the feeling of illness and shock partly at my own ignorance into words. Even given that I was chair of our diocesan anti-racism committee (when it still existed in our Diocese of Montreal- it's been erased, too, for a number of years), I didn't understand the process. I've taken anti-racism courses. I've studied. I obviously hadn't done enough. Thank God for the internet. For courageous people who put together this documentary. Many of us try to say we weren't there then. We aren't responsible for our countries' histories. Well, in one way, no, we're not. We ARE responsible for our ignorance of the past. We are responsible for our blindness (conscious and otherwise) to racism today. We are responsible for our inaction, because silent inaction = support. 

Some of our 'heroes' of the past supported eugenics. GB Shaw. Charles Dickens.... ooohhh... If you really want to know more, put aside an hour and watch this documentary. 

Famine in India - British policy was: to interfere with the famine was in interfere with nature. Survival of the fittest.
The poorest of the poor are condemned to death by nature.

We need to be careful about the following.  The  Germans didn't invent eugenics and the extermination of peoples. White people did. English, American (maybe Canadian), Germans - maybe all who were colonial powers. (Disagree with me here - or better- enlighten me - concerning earlier massacres and exterminations of people - were they expansions of empires? Were they 'colour' related? Were they as organized as we seem to have become beginning in the 1700's give or take?

The newly invented Kodak roll-film camera was used by wealthier German officers to take home 'mementoes' of their time in Namibia
Experiment: The newly invented Kodak roll-film camera was used by wealthier German officers to take home 'mementoes' of their time in Namibia
Shark Island is not Namibia's only gruesome secret. Thousands more bodies are piled in a mass grave under the railway station in the capital Windhoek and more still are piled into a burial pit under the national museum. 
The story of the German extermination of the Herero and Nama peoples has been expunged from the history books  -  and the tourists and scuba divers on the Shark Bay waterfront will find no mention of it in their guides. 
Another observer tells of the abuse of prisoners forced to carry heavy loads from boats on the shore: 'on one occasion, I saw a woman carrying a child of under a year old slung on her back and with a heavy sack of grain on her head. 
'The sand was very steep and the sun was baking. She fell down on her face and the heavy sack fell partly across her and partly across the baby. A corporal hit her with a leather whip for more than four minutes, and whipped the baby as well.' Children at the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland
Children at Auschwitz concentration camp. Shark Island, off the coast of the Namibian German colony, was the site of the world's first death camp - the German invention that culminated in the Holocaust of World War II, the greatest mass crime of the 20th century

Some of us imagine somehow that it started with Nazi atrocities. Except for the genocide of Armenians, maybe. More recently, why did the Canadians in Rwanda not get the support they needed to prevent the genocide or at least curb it? And Congo? Where are we? Continued famines in Africa - are we doing what the English did c1860's? Forgetting Haiti to a large extent after the initial huge response? Expecting Haiti to be recovered, even though the large equipment isn't available for much of the work that needs to be done? Are we still allowing (even plotting? behind administrative closed doors)?

And some try to think that the Charter of Values is about everyone being equal?? Sure. curious that those targeted are the same ones targeted in the past - people of colour and Jews - it wouldn't cost me anything not to wear a cross or clergy collar. I'm the 'right' kind. Outwardly anyhow, with my American Indian and Black slave roots pretty well masked after a few generations. I'm not a dark-skinned Muslim, Sikh or Hindu - or Jewish.

Well, we aren't in one sense responsible for the past. We ARE responsible if we don't learn from the past and act in the NOW. Beginning with educating ourselves. Beginning for us as Quebecers, here in Quebec. It isn't about secularism. It is about who is dominant. It is about who is the 'right' kind. I speak not so much of language. I understand Quebec's past. It IS about 'colour' and 'race' (a concept that white people developed btw). it certainly isn't about freedom.

Tell me that people of colour will have an easier time getting a job even when (if) the Charter of Values is passed and we all 'look the same.' Yeah, right. 

Tell me that Haitian young people will no longer be counselled into the weaker high school courses - away from the most difficult maths and sciences. (Except that the Haitian community is wiser, now, and hopeful this is happening less often). Secondary 4 or 5 students suddenly realize they don't have the right courses to get into the top university programs

Tell me one of our families won't be told she needs to come to a day care to sign up, and then when she gets there (being of Haitian origin) is told there aren't any places and why not find a day care with other Haitian children?

Tell me our young (and older) people won't be stopped by police for driving while Black.

Tell me one of our Inuit fellows will never again be called "Bush Nigger" by a policewoman.

Tell me .... you fill in the blanks.

Tell me there is no racism in Canada and even in our Church.

And don't you Torontonians and Vancouverites, or those who live in other cities or smaller towns  - or those of you who live in the UK and NZ - go thinking it's just in Quebec. 

P'raps you all knew all this. I imagine most of you who read this blog who are people of colour know it. I'm sorry I didn't. But adding wisdom late is better than never.

Thanks, Yves, for sharing this. 

If the link doesn't work - it's on Youtube - and it's called: "What Scientific Racism Did to the Blacks Worldwide" You might find it that way.

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