Cancer doesn’t see racism … or does it?

I ran into my neighbour Carrie yesterday … she is lovely.  Inside and out.  We always run into each other when she is completing a spiritual journey and I am beginning one.  I treasure her words, her advice and her friendship.  She is brilliant and I have the utmost respect for her.  I crave and seek out our intelligent discussions … we understand each other on a level that is very different from most people.  I’ve called her my angel.  She is the person who gave me the selenite candles in Protection.

As we spoke, our conversation slipped into politics and being black.  Carrie is of Jamaican heritage.

Racism puzzles me.  Although my parents were two generations ahead of me – I came along in their mid-forties – they were not racists.  My Mother was born in Sydney, NS in 1921 and had black friends while growing up.  While she used some derogatory terms that were used in that era in her age-related dementia – and I would walk away shaking my head waiting to have it out with her later – she would judge people on their merit.  It didn’t matter if you were black or white and pissed her off!  She said something!  I was raised in a home where people were people.  My very first friend – Cathy – was black.  As a 4-year-old, I had no clue that racism existed.  It never entered my young mind that we were that different.  We just had different skin colours.  Just like I had different hair and eye colours from my blonde, blue-eyed Dutch friend.

It was as simple as that.  We still played.  We still fought.  We made up.

While researching my Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I came across this medical journal article –>  Metabolic Profile of Triple-negative Breast Cancer in African-American Women Reveals Potential Biomarkers of Aggressive Disease

I sent it to an online acquaintance and she said, “But you’re not black.”

I asked why it mattered?  While the study was performed for African-American women, I fail to see how it cannot also be applicable to me and my white Anglo-Saxon heritage.  While there can be cultural, socio-economic, and genetic differences, surely our breast, blood and cancer cells look the same?  This is not to say that medical “groups” shouldn’t be identified.  They should!  Africans at higher risk of TNBC.  European men at higher risk for melanoma.  The BRCA1/2 gene mutation is much more common in Ashkenazi Jews.  I am just saying that inside, most of our cells look pretty much the same. 

I’ve dated white and black men.  And one of my most respectful and caring partners was Jamaican.   He put the white guys I’ve dated to shame.  Raised properly by his mother, he was attentive, kind, generous and good.

America was built on the backs of slaves.  African. Irish.  Italian … keep going.  They are the foundation of that country.  Can someone explain to me WHY colour is still an issue?  It’s about control.  It’s about dominance.  It’s about subjugation.  It’s about making people believe they are worthless.

Read up on narcissists and abusive relationships and you will gain insight into the mind of a racist, a bigot, a misogynist.  It is all about control.

You cannot decide if black lives don’t matter – or any life – unless you have walked in their shoes.

I remember when my son Matthew came home from daycare asking about the “N” word.  I knelt down on one knee to explain in terms that a five-year-old would understand.

“What colour is our hair?”  I asked him.

“Brown!” he replied.

“What colour are our eyes?” I asked.

“Brown” he replied again.

“What colour is Michael’s skin?”


“So were are more alike than different.  We’re the same two out of three,” I said.

I explained that some people saw brown skin as inferior.  I could see Matthew’s young mind grasping to understand.

“That’s messed up!” exclaimed.

“You are absolutely right!” I agreed.

Carrie said she’d prefer the devil she knows versus the one she doesn’t know.  At least you know where you stand with someone who is openly racist.  But it’s harder to work with – or around – the more insidious kind, which exists in Canada.

My son is a Centennial – born two years before the 2000 Millenials – and he has friends of every race, colour and religion.  I hope that his generation moves forward to reduce the divide.

We are all people.  Who live, love, laugh, get sick, die.  I consider myself blessed to have so many friends from so many cultures.

My cancer is the exact same as theirs.


The Fox

© 2017

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