Eff You Racists

I am awake, I am alive and today I acknowledge a simple yet overwhelming fact – that as a teenager, I hated my skin colour.

Truth be told, it is/was darker, even in winter, a shade never worn by the stunning beauties in the magazines. Lipstick, nail polish – they never looked the same on me.

I hated my skin colour.

I put fingers to keyboard today because once again I find myself feeling that way but for the opposite reason now – I wish I was darker.

To explain, last night I went out for drinks with friends. (Yes, Indigenous people can do that.) I got there first. In fact, I was on my second by the time he arrived. We ordered food. We laughed with friends. We drank.

At this point, I should mention I’m 5’6 and not a size one. He’s got to be 6’4 and broad-shouldered. He is dark. He is Anishinaabe.

It didn’t take long. Bartenders loudly telling him to slow down, that he’s drinking too fast (although his consumption paled in comparison to the lighter-skinned regulars at the table who just happened to be Nish too).

Shift change and a loud warning to the new bartender – “Watch him”.

Then a regular loudly using the word “Indian” in reference to the lighter skin Nish friend sitting to the other side of me. My “Hey!” did nothing to change the vibe.

I know the owner. I sought him out and complained about his afternoon bartender. I think he heard me, but it changed nothing. I could see my friend and the effect he was already wearing. He didn’t sit like 6’4 anymore. He told me not to bother saying anything. In his words, “It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last”.

As I recall the evening, I feel strangled by my privilege, acknowledging that I am often the target of arrows, but that my darker friends are hit with much worse, way more often.

Mom would say I’m lighter, so it makes it easier for whites to hear and learn – that I was born to be a bridge builder. Right now, I just wish I was darker so that in future, the racists don’t ever mistakenly think I’m on their side. It happens too often. It always has.

Right now, I just wish I was darker because I hate that thanks to some ridiculous mindset, I am treated better than my brothers and sisters whether we are related by blood, nation, or an all-encompassing Stat Canada classification just because I am lighter.

But then, I remember what I so often say … that we don’t get to pick our privilege. We are born with it. All we can do is use it to speak truth in rooms not yet accessible to those we love, those with darker complexions.

So, the work continues. I go on wiser, more sensitive to the path of others, more determined than ever to speak truth on the paths and in the places that are not yet open to all.

It is my journey. It is my responsibility.

I won’t be going back to that establishment, with or without my friend. They don’t deserve my money or my presence, but I won’t name the place either. There are good people there who need their pay cheques. I won’t make them collateral damage.

I will, however, find better places to share my words, like here. Let’s start with,

“Fuck you racists!”

I love you!


***This is an excerpt from Sandi’s most recent book, “I am Awake …”. available for purchase on her website or Amazon***