August 18, 2009

Trimble can't forget past racism

Trimble:  Confronting racism can be so satisfying

By Charles E. TrimbleAnother time we had taken the mail truck from our home in Wanblee to Martin, S.D., where we would then go to Pine Ridge by bus. In Martin, my mother went to a drug store to get some medicine she could only get from a pharmacist.

We stood at the counter with several other people, all whites, and waited to be served. All the others were being waited on, and new people coming into the store were being served immediately. My mother was seemingly being ignored, but stood patiently waiting.

I was very young, perhaps 5 years old, and was getting impatient. “Mama, let’s go,” I said, “they’re not going to wait on you.” She just patted me aside and assured me that she would be waited on in time. Twice more I said, “Mama, let’s go, they are not going to wait on you.” Finally, I began to cry as I grew more frustrated, and I said loudly, “Let’s go, mama, these bastards are not going to wait on you!”

She took me outside and scolded me to never do that again, that I had embarrassed her. Then she went back into the store, and I could see that she was finally being waited on, undoubtedly getting an earful on how she should raise her kids to be more polite.

There are other stories of such racism that we faced, but I tell these for a specific purpose. I have found that when a person has faced racism and discrimination, he can never forget it, it stays with him always. Seeing my mother treated with such disrespect and rudeness, only because of her race, was worse than being discriminated against myself. It burned into my soul, and it will never go away.
Comment:  This is an excellent example of how racism can affect a child. All the talk of "sticks and stones" can't change the anguish or shame a youngster may feel.

Of course, Trimble is also the one who wrote that Indians should get over their feelings of victimhood. Is he changing his position? If he isn't, he should apply his own words to his childhood memory. "Get over the trauma," Trimble.

To reiterate, I don't think Trimble really should "get over" his past. I'm just using his story to show how foolish his previous position was. It's stupid to tell people to forget things they can't forget.

For more on the subject, see Most Racist Place in America? and Highlights of the US Report to the UN on Racism.

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