I learned a lot from that Israeli encounter.
And from the reactions of other foreigners to our 9/11 tragedy. I mean, I just always assumed that everyone everywhere felt the way we Americans do about it.
I guess I’m learning the value in seeing how others see you.
Because, the truth is, you can never really see yourself objectively.
Yet, even this awakening I’m experiencing here – this dirty view of us through foreign eyes – only makes me feel more determined to fight to right the wrongs. I mean, you have to fight for what you love. And I love my country. In spite of everything I’m learning, that will never change. It’s like how I love my family; no matter what they do, they’re still my blood & always will be. And you don’t give up on family. If they’re broken, you fight for them, fight to fix them, fight to save them.
I told Karli & Dana tonight about the Israeli airport encounter, and they didn’t seem surprised. Karli told me about similar 9/11 conversations she’s had with foreigners in other countries. Dana’s view is that those foreigners are just jealous of America. But Karli thinks, as I do, that it has a lot more to do with our foreign policy, the things we’ve done and continue to do to other countries.
Why do we need all that honey? And why are we so okay with spilling their blood to get it? According to those Israelis, spilling foreign blood means our blood will follow. Are generations of our blood worth spilling for honey?
But, I mean, what are we citizens supposed to do about that?
Most of us, like me, don’t even know what our government is doing. We only know what the news tells us. We don’t even know who’s controlling our news. We think our news is democratic & objective, you know, because we live in a democracy. We think we’re getting the whole story. So we don’t dig any deeper than the most convenient American news sound bite because, hey, if it’s on the news, it must be true.
And who has time to dig, anyway? We have jobs, families, a social life.
But even when we do find out horrendous stuff about our country, patriotism (or the fear of being called unpatriotic) propels us to justify our atrocities. Or we retreat into denial. Or defensiveness. Like in the museo today, when the Whites in our group became so defensive about American benevolence, even in the face of our racist destruction of a Brown nation.
Or like how I just wanted to run away…
I wonder…right now in Iraq…what are we doing to those people that will cause future bees to come 9/11 us again?
We’re attacking them for something they didn’t do to us.
We’re attacking them because they’re Arab, we’re angry, and they have oil.
And the world knows it.
Because schools in the rest of the world teach the portions of American history kept hidden from us in America. Their media reports news about us that our media won’t touch.
Because foreigners and their ancestors have suffered under our history.
Are suffering under it.
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hmph. Lucky for us Iraq had a maniacal dictator. A crazy sociopath whom the first Bush utilized to support our ‘poor Kuwaitis‘ war against Iraqi, and who now serves a similar purpose for the second Bush – that purpose being to substantiate our ‘poor Iraqis‘ claims of democracy & beneficence as we kill one million of their civilians while draining their oil fields.
Just as the history we know nothing about/choose to ignore shows that we’ve always done, we’re naming our violence benevolence.
But Iraqis know better…
Will their bees be coming for my kids in the future?
Will our nation play innocent victim again?
Anyway, back in the museo, Victor said America also did good things in Cuba when we took over. We improved Cuba’s prisons — cleaned them up and rebuilt them. And many prisoners were released, or had their remaining jail time shortened.
“White prisoners,” “Beware of America” man pointed out.
We fixed Cuba’s sanitation & health services, cleaned up the streets, improved hospitals & medical care.
“In the American-designated White areas,” someone in “Beware of America” man’s group interjected.
We built schools, and even overhauled their University of Havana.
“Then fired all Black professors,” someone else in “Beware of America” man’s group added.
We rebuilt Cuba’s bridges, railroad tracks & roads.
“Using the free labor of all the Black prisoners that were not released,” another Cuban in “Beware of America” man’s group informed us.
A few White people in our group became visibly agitated by all the added commentary from the Cuban group. They shot annoyed looks at the Cubans, and one person sighed loudly.
But the minorities in our group began asking the Cuban group questions to get more information, and listened intently to Victor’s translations of Spanish or heavily-accented answers they didn’t understand. The Whites in our group who had displayed their annoyance at the interjections from the Cuban group, now shot their annoyed looks at their own minority countrymen.
Karli & I exchanged looks of own. In that strange way we had developed of reading each other’s thoughts after only a few days of acquaintance, we knew exactly what the other was thinking.
Watching these layered reactions from the Whites & minorities in our American group was fascinating stuff!
Karli told me later that it reminded her of exchanges she reads in online forums where a minority person will mention the racism in something, and White people will respond by saying that the minority person is wrong, reading too much into it, taking it too personally, or even accuse them of playing a race card.
“I see those, too.” I laughed. “Or how about this one: “What about the reverse-racism we suffer? Huh? What about that?”
We cracked up laughing. But the thing is, it really isn’t funny. And we both know it.
As I stood there in the museo watching the Whites in our group roll their eyes, sigh loudly and get agitated, and the Browns in our group listening intently to every word about an American history none of us had ever heard anything about, I marveled that we were all Americans.
Because our reactions to racism are so deeply divided.
I mean, why is that, really?
There’s no denying our intensely racist history — no matter what parts you re-word or leave out. And being that our country was founded by racism, built on racism, our most revered documents penned by racist slave owners, our ancestry demonstrative — to this very day — of a culture grappling in both overt and p.c.-veneered covert ways to preserve the White-majority status quo…how is it that we can actually believe racism just evaporated over time and that, because it’s 2005, accusations of racism are, by now, just the figment of some overly-sensitive minority’s imagination?
I have a new reverence for history.
I wish everyone in America did.
It would go a long way toward de-mystifying current day upheavals that we assign all kinds of context-free ignorance to.
I will never again — no matter how well-meaning — say to any minority of any race, “I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way.”
Because given our country’s not-so-long-ago history and current day endeavors to preserve the status quo — maybe it was “meant that way.”
And who am I to deny or minimize any minority’s daily trials & tribs in a White-majority culture who is largely in denial of or ignorant about the extent of America’s history of violent racism, and the effects which still color the present?
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“Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land”