The Indian Residential Schools Education Day story (page 13) brings to mind a book-length essay on the nature of racism published in 1970 by Wendell Berry.
Berry was born in Henry County, Kentucky in 1934 —long before the civil rights movement. His family had a history in that part of the world that went back at least five generations. His father was a southern lawyer and farmer—his ancestors were farmers and slave owners.
In The Hidden Wound he explores the effects of racism—not on the former slaves and their descendants— but upon the dominant white population. “If the white man has inflicted the wound of racism upon black men, the cost has been that he would reflect the mirror image of that wound into himself.”
He refers to it as “a profound disorder, as great a damage to his mind as it is to society.” No doubt some of the thoughts in his essay were formed at a time when the amorphous and seldom- spoken-of memories of his family were coming face-to-face with the call from the civil rights movement – that it was long-past time for the truth to be told so that healing could begin.
“I want to be cured,” wrote Berry. “I want to be free of the wound myself, and I do not want to pass it on to my children. I feel an obligation to make the attempt, and that I know if I fail to make at least the attempt I forfeit any right to hope that the world will become better than it is now.”
BCSS student Sarah Filgate, one of seven students who attended the Residential School Education Day said it well on Tuesday when she told the Board of Education, “Denial will always prolong the healing process and continue to divide Canada’s people. The first step is honesty.”