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Sunday November 6, 2022
I’d better say this tight up front – I have never experienced prejudice against me because I am white. I suspect that no “person of colour” can say the same.
I have travelled widely. I have spent time in, by my last count, 66 different countries. In many of those, the local population had darker skin than mine. I have never been told, “Hey, whitey, go to the back of the line.” Or, “This is where WE eat; what are you doing here?”
And if anyone has called me derogatory names, they did it in their own language, and I didn’t know.
You may protest that you have no prejudice against brown- or black-skinned people. You may really believe that. But you cannot know it. Only the person experiencing prejudice knows it.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: racism, Prejudice
Thursday December 16, 2021
A few years ago, my daughter invited three temporary Jamaican workers for Christmas dinner.
As the oldest male in the family, I got to carve the Christmas turkey. Of course, I served the guests first. “White meat or dark meat?” I asked.
The three women looked at each other. Then one of them ventured, “Dark.”
The other two agreed.
When plates were emptying, I offered seconds. This time, all three of the Jamaican women asked for white meat.
It turned out that they had made an assumption. They thought that references to white and dark related to their skin colour, not the meat.
Categories: Soft Edges
Sunday June 27, 2021
When parliament recesses for the summer, members who do not expect to run again have an opportunity to speak about their experience. Most of them praise the institution and their colleagues effusively.
Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq didn’t.
Ottawa’s only Innu MP, she launched a blistering attack on the racism and prejudice endemic in a system built around aging white males in suits.
“Every time I walk on to House of Common grounds, speak in these chambers, I’m reminded every step of the way I don’t belong here,” Qaqqaq began.
Even as an MP, she said, “I have never felt safe or protected in my position.” Security guards follow her, suspicious about a seeming outsider – young, female, and non-white – wandering in those hallowed halls.
Tags: parliament, racism, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Innu
A new term has crept into the lexicon of race relations – “white privilege.”
Don’t confuse white privilege with white supremacy. White supremacy means that you actively assert the superiority of people with white skins over anyone who has skin of a different colour -- using politics, religion, legislation, or violence.
White privilege, on the other hand, refers to aspects of life that we -- I speak for myself, but I assume others are like me -- have never previously considered, but have simply taken for granted.
Tags: racism, white privilege, seeing colour
My granddaughter is black. She’s in Grade 10, in a comfortable, friendly little city with a population of around 40,000 -- almost entirely white.
My granddaughter is discovering racism. She’s the only black person in her class. Some of her classmates -- one boy in particular -- call her “nigger.” They make fun of her. She feels excluded.
She says she desperately wants to move to Vancouver. Or Los Angeles. Or even Atlanta. Where she won’t stand out, be different, where there are more black people and she can blend in.
She doesn’t realize that blending in -- especially in Los Angeles or Atlanta -- might be more hazardous than standing out in Canada. Blending in might mean getting pulled over, interrogated, searched and manhandled, for the crime of being black while driving. She might be denied educational opportunities, or shut out of job opportunities. At worst, she might be a target for a white-supremacist’s bullets.
Tags: watersheds, racism, schools