“I like Blacks, but I hate n***rs”

While working seasonally out of province, I was at a local tavern with my co-workers. We worked in a bush camp, and all of us would periodically go into town together on days off. In our camp there were people from across the country and from all backgrounds. In the bar we met two other seasonal labourers, both white working a different industry than ours, working in non precarious, and dare I say manufactured positions.

Me and some co-workers struck up a brief conversation with them, during which the younger of the two mentioned quite candidly and explicitly to me that he liked me, because I was a black but he hated the guy over there, because he was a nigger. As a mixed African Nova Scotian I found this particularly uncomfortable because the man he was pointing to was the only full blood black person in this bar if not in this town. The man then expressed a desire to beat this ‘nigger’ as he put it, and wanted me to join him because he liked me.

It is one of the few moments where racism has shocked me in my short life. It shocked me because it was so natural to him to hate this man he didn’t know for only his skin colour. It shocked me that he justified his disgusting behaviour by trying to co-opt me, another ‘black,’ into fucked up desires. It shocked me, that he was so comfortable with his hatred, and spoke of it so freely. So I walked away from that worthless privileged racist, and walked to this other man with whom I share a tone of skin, and he turned out to be a nice guy. A trucker and new to Canada, he was trying to do what I was trying to do in that small northern town far from my home. Get through his day.

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