I am reading Mohandas Karmachand ("Mahatma")Gandhi's Biography in English right now. He lived and worked in South Africa a lot.
Gandhi has long been one of my "heroes", along with Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. I got interested in Mahatma Gandhi's work about the same time as I started working politically for the abolishment of Apartheid (this is when I was 14 or so, in the change over from 80's to 90's).
I know this was about a hundred years ago, what he is talking about in the book, and I know that he is Indian and his perspective is different, growing up in colonial India. I am also aware of that even Gandhi was a real person, not just a fictive Peace Hero.
Even so, it hurts a bit, every time he uses the word "negro", and the way the black, native people of South Africa, are just left out of the picture in his strives for freedom. It's as if they weren't there.
He (Gandhi) cooperates with the English, with Boers, he can understand their point of views in much and that is good - but what about the Africans, in who's country he is?
Since I lived for 9 months in Australia, my view of racism has become much different, because my experience is that there is a lot of racism over there (a lot!), at the same time as there are people who have really come to terms with these issues, in their own sort of way, much different to our Swedish way. What I'm trying to say, is that it has become much more complicated for me.
When I grew up, I never experienced racism towards me, or if I did I never paid any attention to it. I did fight it, though. From starting High School I started waking up to the Global Issues: like the situation in South Africa. And racism following in the footsteps of slavery in America, I started reading about slavery when quite young. And was fascinated by the Black culture.
Australia is also a colony. I hadn't realized that somehow. The image we have over here of the continent shows a different from the actual picture. In the end of my visit I was hit in the head by the racism that is part of their society. I was introduced with all the words for a black native person and what they represent. It was not the same as what I had learnt from my meetings with Africans, or what I knew from being half Indian in Sweden. I could not protect myself. I was called an "Abbo" (=Aboriginal), which I took for a compliment, but somehow it undressed the fact that the one who said it didn't really have a clue.
I started looking back at my childhood thinking. maybe Sweden is a racist society, too (and it is! The natives here, and even immigrated persons have difficulties "fitting in". The northern part of Sweden was in fact colonized by the south.)I realized that I have been a victim of racism my whole life. But you know, I would have been much happier without that knowledge. Now i have to fight for my skin as well. I never had a problem getting brown before, but now I have to protect myself with sun lotion and sunglasses and most or at least many days I cannot go outside in the summer (June-August) because the bright light gives me a migraine. My skin doesn't even get brown in the summers any more. I find this sad. And I am not blaming any one. As I said before in a chat, we have to live our winters more here in the north. I would love go skiing, and skating! But it is difficult to find equipment for everyone for a reasonable price.
This is what i wanted to say. (Thanks!)