The Wolf in Ally Clothing
When I first came to understand racism, I divided people into two categories; those who were ignorant and those who willfully oppress. As I have gotten older, I have come to understand that such ignorance is a manifestation of privilege – you don’t know because you don’t need or want to know.
This morning’s HuffPost delivered a reminder of this, reporting on Howard Schultz’s huff in mouth statement about, “not seeing colour”. No words are as good at setting off my rant instinct as those – except maybe colour blind casting – ARRRRGGG!
Let’s get this straight; I have never wanted to be the same as a White person. I just want to be treated equally.
When you say you don’t see colour, you are denying my reality. You are making the world nice and neat for you, while erasing me. It also means you will judge my differences harshly, because you expect me to be like you. Moreover, you are abdicating your role in bringing to an end systemic oppression.
I understand that as people start to have a real dialogue about culture and racism there will be stumbling over words, as we try to come up with shared language. These words are not a stumble however, they are a deflection. They are a sign that you have thought enough to come up with what sounds good, but never bothered to factor me into your thinking.
These are the same people who speak in terms of tolerance. Who the hell are you to tolerate me? I don’t need your tolerance. I need you to accept my right to a free and equal existence.
I need you to recognize your privilege and help me to deconstruct the systems that your forefathers put in place to ensure you would always have that privilege. I need you to examine your sense of right and wrong, good and bad, safe and scary, trustworthy and shady to see where your preconceptions cast BIPOC as latter.
Moreover, I am tired of us bearing the brunt of racism and the responsibility to educate you, particularly when you practice willful blindness.
The one thing I like about Trump’s America, is that the masks are off. It is so much easier for me to deal with your racism when you own that shit rather than trying to suggest I am “too sensitive”, “paranoid”, “have a chip on my shoulder” or my favorite, I am, “stuck in the past”.
Please also stop waiving the Canadian flag in my face, as if it is proof of equality. Given that we exported our racism to South Africa – apartheid was based on our “Reservations” – as well as had a hand in slave trade, as proud as I am of being a Canadian, we have to own that too. Funny how people take pride in our role in the underground highway, but never think about how this end got set up. Japanese internment? Chinese head tax? Turing away Jews fleeing the holocaust? Residential schools? We are so quick to forget, I have to wonder what we will do next – Oh, that’s right, we are making (non Judaeo-Christian) religious symbols taboo and legislating what women wear in the name of feminism – we have come a long way, haven’t we?
You may be able to fool others with your adoption of socially engaged phraseology, but people of colour have survived by reading your actions, not listening to your words. Like any movement, we know there are those who join just to be gatekeepers.
The law says that ignorance is not a defense; so from now on, don’t expect a pass.
It occurs to me that as some read this they may feel like I am attacking them. If you see yourself in those words then –oh well. Consider this your invitation to grow. You’re welcome.