I just finished reading this book by Picoult. She is an amazing story teller. Her books always keep me engaged and I finish them sooner than any other author’s books.
This book is about racism in America. The problem is too big to tackle but she takes small steps in trying to understand the other person’s perspective, in a very nice way. The book revolves around a black nurse who is asked not to touch the baby of a white supremacist parent. At one point the nurse is alone with the baby and the baby dies. What happened? The white supremacist parents sue the hospital which promptly throws the black nurse under the bus. The black nurse hires a white lawyer and together they go through this journey of litigation.
It is a really interesting book. It shows how we go through life without noticing things. We take so much for granted – like turning on the light at night. We take electricity for granted but ask that person who does not have electric power. Similar is our daily life with the color of our skin. We generally go through life being oblivious about our skin color. When we travel to a very different country than ours then we might think about it. But otherwise…not really.
On the other hand, some of us are conscious about our skin color every second of the day. Depends who you are and where you are! People may call it a “chip on the shoulder”, but that chip got there for a reason. People are treated differently because of the color of their skin. And we get so tired of it that we come 110% conscious of it.
I grew up in Nigeria for eight years – from 6-12th grade. All that time I was made fully aware that I was the foreigner in that country. Since I was about 8 years old, I was interacting with local kids, in school or playing in the evening. There were just a few times that I felt comfortable in my skin. Otherwise I was always aware that I was a foreigner. Nigerian kids would say things to tease me, pull my hair or make other jokes that I had to bear growing up. (Kids are cruel to each other everywhere – why?).
Same thing happened in Ethiopia. We had privileges that the locals did not. Sometimes I felt bad and sometimes I felt good that I was a foreigner because I was treated differently. USA also is a place where I have experienced racism. It was not expected. I had always thought America was free and open and welcoming, so it was quite the shock. But as I have been living here longer, I am realizing how deep racism is in America.
Well…the learning still goes on. Globalization is increasing, people are moving all around the world and there are lot of adjustments to be made. With each generation come new challenges …and new hope.