Tuesday, June 09, 2020

on enabling a problematic side of cruising...

Something worth watching, a very good point about riots, and a needful read for the perspective of privilege...

On the night that Obama won the election in 2008, we were sailing between Sint Maarten and St Thomas listening to a radio program from St Kitts on the early night watch. I was happy to see out the end of a war-mongering presidency and excited by the idea that a president of color would be a much-needed thing and help put down the ongoing thread of racism that poisons the American dream.

In point of fact, that night I was a very happy camper. That said, the DJs in St Kitts were downright ecstatic and doing the happy dance over the fact that the US of A had just elected a black man and that in their eyes a better day was soon come. So, I listened to Obama via St Kitts give his acceptance speech, and fiddled with the self-steering gear. It was a great night.

Well, unless you've been in hibernation, you're more than aware that a black president did not so much bring about that better day. Racism was a lot more deeply entrenched in the American psyche than I thought and instead of withering away as I expected it became stronger, more in your face, and dog-whistles became bullhorns.

The worst part for me is I saw this bloom of up-front racism manifesting itself in the cruising community. Cruisers saying things in public that were cringeworthy and hateful both about Obama and anyone that was not white or shared their religion. One day standing in line waiting to do customs & immigration, a couple of cruisers began talking to another cruiser on how inept and stupid the ladies working there were and how things would run better if they just used monkeys. Of course, the folks having this excretable conversation were speaking loudly enough for the various officials to hear and I am in awe at how the officials continued to perform their duties while being confronted by such blatant assholery.

Not too much later in Sint Maarten, a well kept American-flagged Bendytoy came into the lagoon and anchored with a middle-aged black couple onboard. The next morning on the morning VHF net another American boat got on the radio and informed the net that there was a black couple on the boat so it must be stolen, in the drug business, or criminals of some sort so be aware. The couple in question happened to be a surgeon and a college professor from Chicago.

Judging from what I see in the cruising community is that it's pretty much a whites-only affair and folks of color are not exactly welcomed with open arms.

This is not to say that all cruisers are racists but there is a big enough chunk of folks who are to be problematic. While I hope the majority of cruisers are not racistly inclined, the fact that cruisers often choose to ignore racist behavior to avoid confrontation and embarrassment. Ignoring racist behavior just empowers and enables it.

Any wonder why you don't see a more diverse racial mix out sailing or cruising?

Just saying.

Listening to an Iron Leg radio show

So it goes...