I am somewhat compelled to follow these events in the United States a bit further. The Picasso series will resume, God willing, next Sunday with “Picasso y Dora Maar”.
Today I would like to explore these actions a bit further…
I’ve always said that an artist must be in touch with the world, with the politics, with the social aspects and with the problems and difficulties that exist within it. Therefore I cannot escape from these riots, these disturbances without expressing some of my thoughts.
I do not claim to know what it is to be an American, although I did live in an American country, the US, for many years. However, the dynamics of the society, to my eyes, kept changing and not necessarily for the better.
One thing is certain, I never encountered any negative feelings or actions against my person or my family. Maybe because I am white. Yes, that was the key to my success in the US. As a white male I was privileged in many ways…
I don’t know what it is to be discriminated, to be ostracised, to be hated. But I do know that many in the US do feel those horrible emotions and they are not just theoretical but very real.
I recall speaking with two women, back in my early days in the US (circa 1973) one was Cuban and the other Black, North American, both middle class, professionals. Within their conversation the Cuban woman said that they…I would guess she and her family…did not think of Black people in the US as being “Americans” and the black woman replied that neither did the “white” Americans…
This statement has always remained in my mind and now that I think of it, in lieu of the current circumstances and the worsening of black/white relations in the US, it seems to me the real cause of all of these riots, protests, disturbances.
If you are not made to feel a part of the country where you live, where you were born, where your family is from, then you don’t feel you have to love that country, respect its mores, it’s laws, it’s institutions or it’s people. And Black people in the US have given their life for America, I know because I proudly served with them in the US Army and Coast Guard.
People are not meant to feel those contradictory emotions. Mixed feelings always give rise to disorders. People must feel a sense of belonging and of security within their community and the greater community of the nation.
Finally, the things that Black people have had to endure in the US are not easily forgotten. Many of those obstacles thrown before them are still there…
Yet history moves forward, albeit revising the past as it does, so lingering on past negatives is not the best way to solve the present dilemma. However something has to change, a new order has to surface and people must make an effort to adapt, to live more harmoniously with each other and to stop dwelling so much on their differences.
In the US, which is a country of immigrants of all parts of the world, the power structure looks white (Anglo-European and Male) and below are the rest. The policy is to label other groups in accordance to their fancy…that’s what it seems to be as the definitions for the terms they use are not the real definitions of these words…calling all people who procede from a Spanish-speaking country “Hispanics”, and sometimes “Latinos”. Black people are called “African-Americans” and Indians “Native Americans”.
Well, first of all, the term Hispanic applies only to people born in the Iberian peninsula, i.e. Spaniards. The term Latino doesn’t even exist in these days as it refers to the “Latin” tribes that populated certain parts of Italy. However, “Latins” are those of the southern Mediterranean, in today’s world. And “Native” is a term that can be applied to no one in the Americas. It is better to use the term “First Nation”, as it is used in Canada to refer to those of Indian origins.
So, first it is very disrespectful to lump all those who speak Spanish into a sack and call them “Latino” or “Hispanic”. They come from different countries with different backgrounds and as well countries that were populated from either Europe, Asia or Africa.
Worse is labelling Black citizens as “African” when they are not, when they are plainly Americans. And Indians call themselves Indians but why change their heritage designation.
In conclusion I can only say, as an observer, that I’ve not seen these fabricated differences anywhere else and that perhaps changing these classifications can result in better race relations. Or better yet, forget about race relations and just concentrate on better human relations. Because no matter how you put it, if you categorise people you are creating inequalities. People know who and what they are, they don’t need government encouragement to uphold their ethnicity or culture. Those things, like religion and upbringing, belong in the home.
Thank you. Now it is your turn. Tell me what you think.