Tuesday, June 25, 2002

On Sunday, we had paella at H.'s apartment out in Stocksund, a well-to-do suburb of Stockholm. Eating paella beside us was Sweden's answer to Barbara Walters - a bit more intellectual and far to the left of Barbara, she has interviewed everyone from Moamar Qaddafi to Leonard Cohen.

She had just gotten back from the States, where she was doing a story on Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau's fight to adopt their foster child, and a follow-up story to one she had done 11 years ago on a family of white supremacists in Georgia. Eleven years later, it had hardly changed.

"I think racism is getting worse," the Swedish Barbara Walters said.

I am an optimist on the issue of racism. I've always felt that, slowly but surely, two steps forward and one step back, we move in the right direction. Yes, it can be discouraging sometimes, with right-wing parties gaining a foothold in Europe because of their anti-immigrant stances. With the U.S. Department of Justice using the current climate of fear to do away with due process. And yet, we move forward, things are better than they were 20 years ago; it's just that positive change also brings out the worst in some people.

Am I wrong, is racism on the increase?

The Swedish phrase for the day is jag vet inte, faktiskt. It means, I don't know, actually.

- by Francis S.

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