You have probably heard the news about the 215 bodies found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. To me what is most shocking about this is that anyone is surprised. These schools existed to obliterate the indigenous peoples’ identity and culture. Children were taken from their parents, given new names, forced to speak a new language, and beaten if they showed any signs of their native culture they were beaten, or given worse punishments. These places were also havens for abuse, but focusing on that hides the fact that they were wrong from inception.
This was an effort to obliterate a culture, something that may have been seen as more humane than the standard approach in the US of out right slaughter. Extreme efforts were made to outlaw languages, clothes, stories, and entire ways of thinking.
Some would say it is so good we have evolved past those dark days, but they would be wrong. It has only been since 2017 that Sikhs serving in the military have been allowed to keep their beards and it has only been a year since the Air Force accepted hijabs and turbans as part of accepted dress. People of color, especially women, still face discrimination in the workplace over hair styles that are considered “unprofessional” which is code for “not white.” The Native American reservation system continues to be marginalized, destroying culture from neglect and atrophy. Asians and others are regularly given anglicized names because their native ones are “too hard.”
For those Caucasians who cry “it’s our heritage” and “speak American” I would point out that no such efforts have ever been made against you. Feeling persecuted because you are being asked to recognize and respect others is not legitimate. You are, and will continue to be for some time, the majority population and culture of this country. For those who point to any group, whether based on creed or sexuality or ethnicity, and complain that they are too vocal, to confrontational, I would remind that for centuries being any one of those things could mean death, the loss of property, respect, family, and status. That was not awfully long ago, and in some places in the US still happens. Think of how those groups felt while your culture was in some cases literally shoved down their throats.
Remember the Golden Rule is a minimum standard of behavior and maybe you need to think twice before you complain about black history month or a rainbow flag or two different language options on a phone call.