Recently, I was downtown walking to my truck after an evening out. An aboriginal women in her 30’s approached. She was obviously either somewhat drunk or high (or possibly mentally ill). She could talk clearly and walk straight, but was noticeably ‘off’, she tended to repeat herself and seemed paranoid. I haven’t had enough experience with drug users to determine what she had partook in. She asked me for cab fare. I offered a couple of loonies and twonies ($1 and $2 coins, for you Yanks) in my pocket, but she refused.
She then told me, she didn’t need cab fair, she needed me to call her a cab. She said she was afraid and didn’t trust anyone, but she needed to get back to her hotel. Which was odd, because she was trusting me and I was a complete stranger and probably not especially trustworthy-seeming as I looked exceedingly redneck-prol at the time. She didn’t want to call the cab herself because she was afraid they would be “mean” (her word, but by the intonation of it she clearly meant something darker) to her and would not come for her, but they would listen to me. She repeated herself often as we talked, and at one point even offered me $20 to call a cab (after I was already on the phone and which I did not take).
I phoned a cab, as she continued on. She repeated multiple times she was afraid of dying and didn’t trust anyone. She didn’t want to be downtown because bad men might do something to her. (As she talked to me, a strange man with a redneck beard, a heavy metal shirt, and camo jacket), but didn’t want to phone a cab herself, because she didn’t trust them.
The call finished, a cab was coming. She thanked me, repeatedly and profusely, with obvious relief in her eyes. Then offered a handshake, which I took and she held for much longer than normal. She spent the next minute or two switching between thanking me and saying she was afraid. In the middle of her ramblings, she said something in the neighbourhood of ‘I knew I could trust you because you’re white’.
The cab showed up on the other side of the, it was, as usual, being driven by a man from the Indian subcontinent.
The women turned to me and thanked me again, and asked me to work her across the street and talk to the driver. She said she was afraid of the driver, that he would do something to her, but if a white man like me told him I was her friend and asked him to take her to the hotel she would be fine. So, I took her across the street (as she held my arm like an old lady did a boy scout’s) and helped her into the cab. I then told the driver to ‘please take my friend to her hotel’. She thanked me a couple times more through the open door, then off they went.
For those who aren’t from Canada, aboriginal-white relations are akin to black-white relations in the US. Our ghettos are aboriginal neighbourhoods (although, not as bad as American ghettoes), aboriginals have high poverty rates, and aboriginals make up a disproportionately large number of criminals. The aboriginals are our designated primary oppressed group, so the media/academy/bureaucracy goes to great lengths to pump up white guilt about our historic treatment of aboriginals and fan the flames of racial greivance in aboriginals. All this is especially so in the western provinces because we have a comparatively high number of aboriginal.
Despite all this, a white man was the one this women turned to when she was afraid. She was afraid of the licensed cab driver, but turned to the random white stranger for help. She also thought the cab drivers would trust me, but would not trust her. She used me, a white man as an intermediary/shield between her and the cab drivers and her and the dangerous/frightening downtown (mainly frightening/dangerous because of those sharing her ethnicity).
While this is just one random incident with a women who was probably high and may not be indicative of anything, it does lead to ask, despite all the oppribrium sent our way, are we white men particularly trusted, particularly when it comes to inter-ethnic interactions? I looked, but a search didn’t turn up any studies or data on how much the different races trust other races.