Lecturer disappointing in take on racist issues

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To the editor,
As a victim of racism, and having fought the good fight against racism for decades. I was immediately drawn to your article on Dr. David Williams, Harvard University, and his offer to give a free lecture on racism and health at the NSCC in Dartmouth.

I decided to travel the 100 miles and listen to his speech, learn more about racism and ask where do I turn to get recognized as a victim of racism?

It was interesting to hear him explain that discrimination is frequently unconscious, or unthinking discrimination that is based on negative stereotypes. His advice was to make a conscious effort to focus on the person as a unique individual. Yet when I asked him, how do I get recognized as a victim of racism, I think he saw me as a white man and stereotyped me as such – completely failing to practise what he preaches.

After I explained that the government of Canada came to my community with a compensation check of $35 million for undue hardship and suffering from pollution that treated everyone equal, the compensation was passed out not according to who suffered and how much they suffered. The money was passed out depending on what race you were. White man need not apply.

Dr. Williams suggested "I get a lawyer" and he did not have enough facts to determine if I was a victim of racism or not.

I pressed my question and he went on to say he did not know enough about the laws in this country to make a statement. I told him I thought racism was racism regardless of the laws of any country.

I wonder if white people were compensated and African Americans were denied even recognition as suffering human beings would Dr. Williams then have enough facts to determine if they were victims of racism?

Dr. Williams was told he would be invited back to Nova Scotia soon but I for one will not go out of my way to listen to him. The good doctor gets a failing grade from me. I see him as just another dressed-up expert who makes a good living jumping on the bandwagon and telling those on board exactly what they want to hear.

Alex J. Mackenzie

RR2 Trenton

Geographic location: Canada, Nova Scotia

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