16 October 2008
As a pasalubong from my aunt in Canada, she sent me an award-winning book called "Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill. The novel describes the tribulations that befell the African men and women as they were kidnapped from their homelands, starved and tortured physically, mentally and even spiritually and shipped to the United States only to be sold as slaves to landowners. With Aminata Diallo as the primary protagonist of this heart breaking story, she reveals how she has lost her family, her freedom, her rights and how she has strove to win them all back.
The story is a beautiful unfolding of wisdom and character. Aminata speaks of her many beliefs and thoughts only to reprimand herself in the future for her foolishness. As she ages, the reader can comprehend the gradual maturity in her voice and thoughts and for that I believe that Lawrence Hill has truly made a masterpiece. I am completely moved by his story - the Blacks truly have a beautiful story behind them - they are a strong race, a strong people to have endured all these pains.
It is sad to think how people can be so prejudiced, rallying against other races without respect to others' feelings, thoughts and life. It would be hypocritical to say that I don't practice some discrimination in my end, though. Being a Chinese in the Philippines, I have plenty of non-Chinese friends inquiring if my family permits inter-racial marriages. Since I'm not purely Chinese, yes we do. For others though, marriage with a Filipino is often looked down upon leading to many disowned sons and daughters. It seems so easy to say we should abolish racism, but to be honest, I guess it is the violence and lack of equity practiced in this bias that should be erased.
Personal biases and preferences will always survive and it is a way of life - the same way you cannot stop me from having an icky look once a big hairy man walks in front of me wearing just a sando top. Cultures bring up particular etiquette and beliefs that mold each person's perceptions. It cannot and shouldn't be held against anyone, it is only when we start seeing and treating others unjustly (humiliating them, torturing them, not giving them a chance, not treating them humanely, etc.) that we truly become uncouth and at times, criminal.
Picture is from http://www.innisfil.library.on.ca/userfiles/image/bookmap/Book%20of%20Negroes.jpg