Are You Calling Me White!?

I am a pasty white gringo. I have two shades: pale and strawberry. When traveling in the Middle East and Central America, you can see the sun shining off 'o me from a mile away. I stick out. I get asked all the time: "Are you American?"

I muster my best offended tone of voice, then ask in their language: "Are you callin' me white!?"

Americans have a bad reputation abroad... and we've earned it. My humorous approach to what could become a hostile situation has made me some of the best friends I've come across in this life. Racism and oppression come in many forms... and it is the traveler who has the opportunity to crack those close-minded ideals right back open. We meet so many people... often across many diverse lands... 'n that gives us far more opportunities than most peeps to challenge racist assumptions wherever we're traveling.

Hurly over on Thumbs Up Canada is doing just that. He was recently featured on The Martlet by Kristi Sipes, here in her article 'Opening spaces / Challenging "isms" one thumb at a time'. The article covers how he has turned his travels as a hitchhiker into a campaign to build awareness of racism and free speech.

Just yesterday, Hurly asked here on his blog for others to share their own stories of oppression. I know I've experienced racism and oppression... 'n many near me have experienced far worse. If you want to share, email Hurly at and send him your stories, art or poems. Share your voice.

At the same time, ask yourself: "How am I oppressing others?"

The answers I found inside myself to that question were startling... and it's a constant reminder to stand up for the rights of everyone. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem... it's EVERYTHING to someone else.