DEAR NICOLA

Published November 26, 2020 by Nan Mykel
Ray Villafane, http://villafanestudios.com/

The following is one paragraph from a g-mail addressed to “Nicola,” evidently a mass mailing error from a worthy cause.

“Some Indigenous Peoples refer to ‘Thanksgiving’ as the ‘National Day of Mourning.’ It is a day founded in a myth about this country’s origin–one that reframes a long history of attempted genocide as a friendly feast. This year many people are mourning loved ones lost to Covid, as well as state and vigilante violence. For some of us, this will be a different ‘Thanksgiving’ – one with limited contact due to Covid precautions. This is a time to mourn, reckon, fortify.”

The following is not an excuse, just some of my thoughts about the occurrence of prejudice in the world, throughout history. People say, “No one is born prejudiced,” and that is true to some extent. Since I have a blind side like almost everyone, I have probably been racist in my thinking and behavior at some point, but not very much so. On the farm I played with a little black boy down the road until my visits were not facilitated. A black woman who ironed for us was the person who told me there was a word for “the day before today” and a different one for “the day after today.” I remember playing at the home of some black folks who I now think must have been our sharecroppers. I remember once visiting a black church with my father, and I had a black family sleepover at my house in Atlanta when the Mule Train passed through on its way to Washington in the late sixties. In college I was a member of ADA and we traveled to hear Martin Luther King speak. (We had to wait a little because there was a bomb scare). But I have learned through reading that we all have something genetic that makes us culturally prefer those who carry our own genes. It’s called kinship selection. The “us-them” dichotomy can be seen everywhere. Social experiments with school children have been done in which the children were divided into those with blue eyes versus those with brown-eyes and pitted against each other. The hostility that crept up was shocking.
You may have noticed that Trump has been riding that regrettable fact. That would have been a “Us vs. Them” tendency, which is atop or under the kinship preference process, which seems to be atop an even more basic primitive, archaic tendency which involves the ancient widespread valuing of our own genes. This tendency resurfaces when folks are asked who of several people they would save if they could save only one of their family versus five, say, unrelated. I’ll be quiet now. I was on a rant. Blame it on self-quarantine. But it does point to the fact that we as humans have a problem we need to work on if we hope to have a more just and lasting world. (I know, preachy and it’s not even Sunday).


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