June 4, 2020
Black Lives Matter. There is no question, no doubt. The fact that this is even a topic of discussion in 2020 is beyond comprehension. The past few days I have been focusing on the voices with the most important things to say in light of recent events – the Black voices. Listening, learning, researching, reflecting. I felt sick to my stomach, I felt heavy. But we need to listen.
You matter to me and I stand with you.
I have never seen a Black person walk down my street and felt worried. But there are Black people all over the continent worried to walk around their own neighborhoods.
If we want to see change it is not enough to be non-racist, we need to actively stand up against acts of racism. Big and small. Start by holding yourself accountable. We need to hold ourselves accountable for the problematic things that we’ve said and done. As white people, we need to acknowledge our privilege and our ignorance. Like many white people I have undoubtedly said things that were hurtful. Educate yourself about micro-agressions, micro-insults and micro-assaults. Educate yourself so that you can recognize these acts of racism in others and in yourself. Educate yourself on Black history and the treatment of Black people in North America. None of us are exempt from the responsibility to educate ourselves. The horrendous things that have happened and are happening can not be ignored.
Canada has our own demons. The Canadian History in regards to the Indigenous people is horrific. Growing up in Ontario (on Algonquin land), I never had any prejudice against Indigenous people. I also don’t remember learning a lot about their history in school and that’s just another, more subtle, way to oppress them. I had never witnessed racism against Indigenous people like I have in Northern Alberta, it is very blatant. The Indigenous population is dense here and I have witnessed such harmful behavior. If you let it, that environment and that toxicity will poison you. In the past, I have said hurtful things about Indigenous people in my community; hurtful things rooted in stereotypes fueled by ignorance and experiences with a select few that blurred my vision to the big picture. I have taken the time to educate myself more about the various Indigenous cultures, their heartbreaking history and the impact of that trauma, and I will continue to do so.
They are human beings and their lives matter. We are all equal and we need to treat each other as equals, respect each other as equals, and acknowledge and destroy the systems that have been set in place to oppress Black and Indigenous people of colour.
I can pinpoint the moment a light switched on for me. My moment of clarity. It was a few years ago, and an acquaintance was showing me her Halloween costume. She wore Blackface. And I said, “why do people keep doing this when we’re told how offensive it is? Shouldn’t we know better?” Then I thought about all the things I’ve said; all the times I brought race into the equation, not because it was relevant but because of stereotypes. I felt like a hypocrite. I knew better and I knew I had to do better.
Whether a person is good or bad has nothing to do with their race. It is not People of Color vs White People. It is right vs wrong, good vs evil. Everyone vs Racism.
As a white person trying to support this movement, you will likely make mistakes. You will be faced with your past self, you will be uncomfortable, you will admit things to yourself that make you feel terrible. It’s not about you. Acknowledge your mistakes, call yourself out. Don’t make excuses. Take criticism and stay committed to your evolution. Keep going. Put in the work. Educate yourself. Show up. Listen. But most importantly, speak up against racism.
I am immensely sorry for my shortcomings and I vow to do better.
But my voice isn’t the voice you should be listening to. Listen to the Black voices, listen to their stories, share their stories; amplify their voices.
June 15, 2020
Hey Guys. Since this is a movement, not a moment, I decided I would continue to update this blog with thoughts or conversations I have with friends and share educational resources that I am finding helpful.
First, I want to address this misconception that having Black friends or Black family members means you are not racist. In a way, I can understand why it might be tempting to use this as a shield because I also have Black friends and have dated Black people and when I was younger I thought, “how could I be?”. But dig deeper. If you’re sitting there thinking you’re not racist because you have Black friends or are married to a Black person, take a second to think about how you perceive Black people who you do not know personally. Or maybe you have prejudice or presume stereotypes about other non-Black people of colour; Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian. Or maybe there are stereotypes that you assume that are things you believe to be compliments. If you find yourself in this position I would again encourage you to educate yourself on micro-aggressions, micro-invalidations, micro-insults and micro-assaults. That research will teach you about things that you may think are compliments but can actually be dehumanizing. I used to have a friend who would always tell me that she wanted a Filipino nanny, specifically Filipino because she believed that they were good with kids. The same person would always complain about how we didn’t have a nail salon in our area that was run by Asians because she thought they were better at nails and it was a more “authentic” nail salon experience. That wasn’t about thinking they were “better at nails”, it was about wanting them to serve her. While some people may see these things as compliments and therefore it’s not racist…these stereotypes or micro-agressions are still harmful. Which brings me to fetishizing. This is racism wrapped in a pretty package. It is dehumanizing to treat people of colour as something to cross off your sexual Bingo card instead of as human beings. Also, remember that just because your Black friends are okay with something you said doesn’t mean that other Black people aren’t allowed to be offended by it, that’s not up to you.
June 16, 2020
Back again with another topic. Today, I want to encourage you to learn about White Fragility and White Privilege. White Fragility is, in basic terms, when white people get defensive or uncomfortable when confronted with racism. I’m going to share an Instagram post below, a “White Fragility Self Assessment”. Flip through the thread, but I encourage you to do your own research as well. I want to share an example of white fragility and white Privilege with you that corresponds with my above story about my acquaintance’s Halloween costume.
A few years ago an acquaintance was showing me her Halloween costume where she wore Blackface. To be specific, she went as Scary Spice. I asked her why she felt the need to wear Blackface, couldn’t she be Scary Spice without doing that? We are constantly told that Blackface, or wearing tradition clothing from another culture, is NOT A HALLOWEEN COSTUME. She disagreed with me that this was offensive, and used the classic white argument that if the Wayans brothers can do “whiteface” in White Chicks, then she can do Blackface for a Halloween costume. Y’all, “whiteface” is not a thing. Read about the history of Blackface and then come back. This happened around the same time as the Me Too movement, and I had grown incredibly frustrated with hearing men complain about how they can’t do or say anything without offending someone, *insert eye roll into another dimension*. So I shared a post to my Instagram, the quote “To those accustom to privilege, equality will feel like oppression.” And I expressed my frustration towards people who thought it was up to them to decide if another person, another race, another culture, was allowed to be offended by them. They got to decide if people of colour were allowed to be offended by their jokes, by their comments, by their Halloween costume. The epitome of white privilege.
This Instagram post started a huge argument that effectively ended my relationship with my best friend at the time. The same friend that always said she wanted a Filipino nanny and complained that our community didn’t have any “authentic” nail salons run by Asians. She saw the post and assumed it was about her and the fact that she and her daughter wore Day Of The Dead costumes. She got angry and defensive, she said I was accusing her three year old of cultural appropriation. She called me a hypocrite for calling people out over “harmless costumes” when she had heard me make racist comments about Indigenous people in our community before. She was right about me being a hypocrite. I held myself accountable for it that day and I will continue to do so. I told her that she was right, but that we need to do better and be better, that we should know better than to wear these costumes when year after year we are told how offensive they are. She was right about me being a hypocrite, but she was not right about those costumes being harmless. I would like to think that she has taken the time over these past few years to listen and learn.
Before you ever say anything that has anything to do with race, or sexism since we’re here…Ask yourself, is it so easy for me to say this because I am white? Is it so easy for me to say this because I am a man? Is it so easy for me to say this because I am a white man? If the answer might be yes, that is privilege.
Commit to calling out acts of racism, call out your own mistakes too. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, whatever…it’s not about you.
June 18, 2020
Today I was looking at my bookshelf, and I saw my copies of Night, Dawn and Day from Elie Wiesel. I remembered the first time I read Night. It was in my high school history class when we were learning about the Holocaust. Elie’s work is gut wrenching, horrific, violent. They don’t sugarcoat it when they teach you about the Holocaust, and I can appreciate that in order to truly understand the impact of the Holocaust we had to have our hearts broken.
Then I thought about what I had learned about Indigenous history in all my years of school. It wasn’t much. I thought about what I learned about Black history, it was probably even less.
I wondered how different things would be now if they had forced us to learn the harsh realities of the history of Indigenous people in our country. Every heart breaking detail. I was an adult when I first heard the term “residential school”. And even after I was aware that they existed I was still so unaware…Unware to the real horrors and how recently these events occurred. I am remorseful that I stayed ignorant for so long. Once I knew, I understood so much more about the trauma and the effects that trauma has had on the Indigenous community. Now that I know, I wonder why are we not taught this in school? Why weren’t we taught more about Black history in school?
Do not stay ignorant.
June 20, 2020
Things to think about if you think people are taking the Black Lives Matter movement “too far”
Did you like Lady Antebellum because you liked their music or because their name had ties to slavery in the south? If it’s because you liked their music you shouldn’t be bothered by them changing their name to Lady A. If it’s because you liked that their name had ties to slavery, you’re racist.
Why are you upset that they are removing statues of Confederate leaders? What did they do to deserve a statue? They lost the war. Are there statues of Hitler all over Germany? No. Do you think we’ll ever forget about him? Nope.
Why are you mad that NASCAR banned the Confederate flag? The flag is a simple of white supremacy. It is used by the KKK and Neo-Nazi organizations. So if you’re mad about it you’re either ignorant and need to educate yourself, or you’re racist. Watch this video:
If Aunt Jemima rebranded without explaining that they are doing it to dissolve the racist imagery, would you care? Companies rebrand all the time for lesser reasons.
How do these things truly, negatively affect your life?
June 29, 2020
I understand that in times like this, it can be easy for some people to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by all the information being shared, all the things you may just now be learning about. Maybe you want to help but don’t know how. Petitions. Petitions are a great start. Sign them! I have been sharing many petitions to my Instagram Stories and my Twitter account when I come across them but another great source is the website for the Black Lives Matter organization, they have compiled a list of petitions and put them all on their website.
July 6, 2020
One of the biggest topics I’ve seen being brought up by white people is “How is rioting helping anyone?”, so I wanted to share a few thoughts that I would like my fellow white people to consider.
The Civil Rights/Black Lives Matter movement isn’t anything new. They’ve been fighting for equal rights for decades, after centuries of oppression. Peacefully protesting; but nothing changes, no one listens. Imagine that people you love were being killed in the streets, wouldn’t you be angry? Wouldn’t you be tired of having to protest this shit? Peaceful protesters are being met with tear gas and rubber bullets. No matter how they have chosen to protest they have been told it is not the right way to protest, there is no “right way” to protest the systems that are oppressing you. What you see when people turn to violence is people pushed to the edge.
But a lot of those people turning to violence, rioting, vandalizing, looting, are also people taking advantage of the moment and really have nothing to do with the movement at all – of course that’s what you’re seeing in the news though which makes people turn away.
You can’t sit there and pool the Peaceful Protestors with the Rioters and use rioters as an excuse not to listen to or support the Peaceful Protests. Same way you don’t want people pooling bad cops with the good cops. Not all cops are bad? Not all protestors are violent rioters.
Practice empathy. Try to imagine what you would do if you were in their shoes. If you still think you wouldn’t be angry enough to get a little violent, you privilege is blinding you.
Please read this article from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
July 10, 2020
Back with a few topics today. I am probably going to express some unpopular opinions among white people. And it might not always as the most eloquently expressed opinions because I am finding it all hard to put into words. If you’re a white person feeling particularly fragile, you’re probably about to be triggered.
The first thing I want to talk about directly correlates to my previous post. I recently noticed a friend of mine shared a post to her Facebook that said something along the lines of, “If you’re a protestor mad about being clumped in with rioters, think about the good cops being clumped in with bad cops. Chew on that.” And honestly, I was horrified. I was horrified that her white privilege has made her completely miss the point. Protesters have more to worry about than being clumped in with rioters and looters, this isn’t what they are protesting. Their signs don’t say, “we’re not all rioters”. They are protesting to see changes in the systems that are oppressing them and that includes the legal system. So let’s focus on what needs to change and one of those things is law enforcement. Do not act like things are fine the way they are, they are not. Do not focus on defending good cops, focus on WHY THERE ARE BAD COPS AT ALL. Not all cops are bad, but there should not be bad cops. There should not be cops who are afraid on the job. Being a cop is a dangerous gig, it takes bravery. When you sign up to be a cop, you sign up for risk. At the end of the day you get to go home and take off your uniform. But Black people live in their skin, live with their fear, every second of every day of their lives. If you don’t want to live with the danger of being a cop, don’t become a cop. If you are not going to wait that extra second to confirm someone is holding a weapon before you shoot them because you are afraid, don’t become a cop. Black people should feel safe, they should feel like the people who are making the decision to become cops are there to protect them as well. Innocent Black people are being shot in the streets because of scared cops while white men who literally go to Parliament Hill uttering threats again the Prime Minister are being quietly arrested.
Not all protesters are violent rioters, not all cops are bad, not all Black people are thugs, not all Brown people are terrorists. The fact that these statements are necessary is a huge part of the problem.
The next thing I want to talk about is Reverse Racism, because it doesn’t fucking exist. Reverse Racism is just a product of white fragility. This happens when white people are criticized for their racism or systemic racism created by white people and white people thinking they’re being attacked because their white. I’d like to bring up the quote I mentioned in an earlier post, “to those accustom to privilege, equality will feel like oppression”. Because white people are so used to being top dog that when BIPOC try and fight for equal treatment, white people feel like they’re being attacked and opressed. It’s not pie, more rights and equal treatment of others does not mean less rights and worse treatment for you. BIPOC are not out to get white people. Black Lives Matter is not about oppressing white people. It’s about the 400+ years of oppression that BIPOC have endured at the hands of the white hetero male patriarchy. White people have never and will never face that level of oppression. That is not the goal. The goal is equity and equality.
The last thing I want to talk about is Indigenous history and education. I just really want to encourage you to educate yourself on Indigenous history because when you do you may realize just how little you know. A few years ago I made the decision to educate myself more on Indigenous history and I was horrified. I thought I was so socially conscious and I was shocked at how ignorant I actually was. And as I continue to educate myself more on the topic I just really want to push you to do the same. Growing up, I was taught so little about Indigenous history. And I remember people talking about reserves and ‘Indian Status’ cards like these were these great things the government had done for the Indigenous community. They were given all this land and they were exempt from all these taxes and this was all to make up for things that were done to them centuries ago. But they skipped over teaching us about things like the dog slaughter where the government slaughtered thousands of sled dogs to keep the Inuit from leaving their communities via dog sled in an effort to keep track of them, they didn’t teach is about the E-tag system, they didn’t teach us about residential schools or the effects of the trauma caused by the abuse children experienced in them, they didn’t teach us that reserves are often on the worst pieces and land and many reserves don’t have access to clean drinking water. They didn’t teach us the truth about ‘Indian Status’ cards; how they were there to prove someone’s culture, how that status is given or taken away. They didn’t teach us, so teach yourself. And if you’re not completely horrified and outraged yet, educate yourself some more. Then teach your children early what you learned later.
Change begins with education. I will continue to educate myself in an effort to do and be better. I will be sharing resources that I find helpful here if you are interested.
Secret Life of Canada – A CBC Podcast. This podcast is hosted by 2 Canadian women of colour and they delve into the the lesser known stories about the history of Canada. It has been many moons since I learned about Canadian history in school, and the history that is taught in schools (at least when I was growing up) can be very white biased. I am finding this podcast very eyeopening.
13th – A documentary on Netflix about the history of slavery, lynching, the Jim Crow era and racial segregation, but mostly it’s about mass incarceration and the systemic racism in society designed to keep Black people oppressed even to this day. This documentary is difficult to watch but it is very important and so informative. It is really eyeopening about how Black people have been painted as criminals in society and how the justice system has been biased.
BlacKkKlansman – Movie and Book. I watched the movie recently and I really hope to read the book when I can find a copy that doesn’t have the movie cover on it (I hate when they do that to books). The movie is based on the memoir by Ron Stallworth. Ron Stallworth was the first Black man to join the police department in Colorado Springs and in the late 70’s he infiltrated the KKK. It is an incredible story about a very brave man.
@SoYouWantToTalkAbout – This is an account on Instagram but they share facts about all sorts of political topics. Recently they’ve posted about Juneteenth, The crisis in Yemen, Systemic Racism, Antifa, and White fragility just to name a few.
Another way to support the cause is to simply support the Black community. Support BIPOC owned businesses, BIPOC artists and authors, designers, influencers etc. I will share some of my favourites below.
Shavonda Gardner – @SGardnerStyle on Instgram. I have followed Shavonda for yeeears. She is a designer. Her home is amazing, her family is amazing, her style is amazing. I have gotten so much inspiration from Shavonda. She is funny, smart, beautiful and so, so real. She also has an account dedicated to her garden space, @thecottagebungalowpotager
Carmeon Hamilton – I was introduced to Carmeon through Shavonda, their besties and Carmeon is another designed. Her style is so incredible, both in her home and her fashion sense. Her smile is also hypnotizing. @Carmeon.Hamilton on Instagram.
Janea Brown – @jnaydaily on IG. Her home is lovely, she is super funny and she has such a kind and calming energy.
Hilton Carter – @hiltoncarter on IG. He is a plantie + author. He is so creative and so knowledge, if you love plants he is a Must Follow.
Allison Moon – @AllisonOliviaMoon on IG. She is an artist and photographer. Her art, her smile, her soul. All stunning.
Samara Terese – @SamaraTerese on Instagram. She is a body and sex positive content creator + blogger. She has such an incredible energy and she is so fun and sweet.
Laurence Rich – A lifestyle blogger + Floral Designer in Kelowna, BC. Her work is amaaaazing. @FleurichCreations for her floral design and @IamLaurich for her personal account on IG.
WildRoga – I actually don’t know Ro’s full name but she is a yoga instructor in the Ottawa Valley (Where I’m from) and I wish had known her when I lived there. She is super sweet, amazing energy, super sweet kid and she teaches online yoga practices. @WildRoga on IG.
SajdaReads – @SajdaReads on IG, she’s a blogger. She shares her recommended reading list. I’ve compiled a huge list of books recommended by her to educate myself on Black history and Black oppression, and to just support Black authors.