Internal Racism

I am racist.  There is an ethnic group I have spent much of my life hating.  It wouldn’t be of much consequence, since I rarely run into people from this background, except that I am also from this group.
It is easy for me to acknowledge my Dutch cheekbones, Norwegian chin, Irish love of storytelling, and Scotch love of arguing.  I blame my frizzy hair on the other.

I’ve lived in denial of my British background.  As a child I blamed the British for the treatment of Canada’s Natives.  I blamed the English for the colonization of Scotland, Ireland, India, the Americas and more.  I hate colonialization.  I hated the English.  It was another thing to hate about myself.

 What does being English mean?  What responsibilities come with that?   How can I reconcile the bloody history of invasion?  Is it ok to blame ignorance?

 Can I look past those English of the past?   Can I blame colonialization and invasion for the harm done under the British flag and not dislike the British who upheld it and benefited from it?   Of course, colonialization, slavery, and invasion were not invented by the Brits.  Arabs invaded Northern Africa and enslaved black people before Europeans did.  Romans invaded and enslaved others before them.  Greeks before them.  Egyptians before that.

Blonde hair used to be (and still is in Israel) synonymous with prostitution and sexual availability, similar to how Black and Chicana women are too often viewed today.  I can’t blame light skinned DNA for atrocities.  But I can blame people choosing to remain ignorant about privilege they haven’t earned.  Can I?

Now I will try and find something positive about being partly British.

My English great-grandmother loved to read.  She was adventurous and left a more comfortable life to come out to the Canadian prairies.  Her daughters all loved to learn and create beauty.  On the other side, my English great-grandfather has a reputation for integrity.  Stories of him revolve around helping his neighbours, even at personal sacrifice.  His children all have a twinkly sense of humour and are always there if someone has a need.

My name is PrairieNymph, and I have some British ancestry.   And frizzy hair.

5 thoughts on “Internal Racism

  1. We all have something in our bloodlines that we don’t like and we are all a little bit racist…

    PS… I have blond frizzy hair myself… Same English background I suppose…

  2. Sometimes I think it’s a waste of time to look back into the past and hate the invaders. Because how far back are you going to look? You hate the English, but what about the Normans? The Vikings? The Anglo-Saxons? The Romans? Those invasions affected your history (and mine) in millions of ways that we just don’t see anymore because it was too damn long ago to separate out all the pieces. (Although it’s interesting to look at the English language and recognise what a mish-mash it is, due to all those cultural influences.) Better acknowledge what happened, but keep looking forward and focusing that energy on how we can make the future a decent place to live.

  3. prairienymph says:

    Yes, I agree, and that is what I am doing. I just recently realized that I never acknowledged my British background. Then I wondered why. Then I wrote about it. Once I could see that I had attached invasion, colonization, genocide and exploitation to a particular race and tried to distance myself from it, I could see how ridiculous I had been.

    For me, it was a waste of time to hate invaders. However, it was a good use of time to look back at invasions since it has helped me get over my hate.

    Yes, the English language is fascinating. See http://englishcowpath.blogspot.com/ for more on that.

  4. The English have not made themselves very popular, historically. You don’t have to look farther than their nearest neighbours to see it. Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France. Most people you ask in any one of those countries will give you anything from good-humoured disrespect to hate-filled invective when it comes to the English. Those people have some long memories, when it comes to bearing a grudge. I’m a total geek about medieval British history. Scotland especially is near and dear to my heart.

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