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!)


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Comment by Fernando on February 15, 2009 at 2:58pm
Racism is a BIG obstacle to peace too, along with greed and religious fanatism.
Comment by susan chandel on February 10, 2009 at 2:55pm
Hi Erika, I was doing a short piece on injustice and the hippies in the 60s and received a little story about the segregation of aboriginals around Perth in Australia. This is from a member of the etsy freethinkers a group I belong to on etsy....realisationcreations she make jewelry in Australia:
My Dad told me this great story when he came and stayed at our place recently, about how he and my Mum met. They were both quite young, but were leaving behind failed relationships by travelling by train to the furthest place away from Adelaide/Melbourne that they could think of - which was Perth. When on the train they bonded over the fact that a man was making rascist jokes about the Vietnam War - my Mum and Dad had only met, but they were the only two that didn't laugh.
A day later, they reached Perth, and went out for a beer. It was really crowded on 3 sides of this bar, but one side was clear, so Mum and Dad walked up to the clear side and ordered a beer. The barman looked at them and said: "You realise you're on the boong side?" (Boong was/is a pejorative term for our indigenous Australians - the Aboriginals). Dad was stunned and asked him to repeat it, which he did. This was not happening in the other major cities at the time, but Perth was somewhat isolated. My Mum and Dad were shocked, and Dad turned around to the Aboriginals who were drinking there, and asked: "Do you mind if we drink with you". The reply was: "Yeah, no problems mate. Go ahead and drink with us".
My Dad told me that Mum later said that that was the moment she fell in love with him.

Thanks for checking out my pictures! See you soon I hope.... tonight I have meditation then I am going to meet a friend who is going to a lecture on middle east peace at the college so I probably won't be around much tonight perhaps today for a bit. Susan
Comment by Bryony brightoceanstar on January 28, 2009 at 10:28pm
Hi Erika

How are you? Gandhi is one of my heroes too. It is the anniversary of his death, assassination, on Friday - 61 years. I also fought against apartheid in my teenaged years and was a member of the ANC.

Love to you


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