Power of Privilege

March 12, 2014




I like to try to get outside myself, my own way of thinking, my own culture, to try better understand others. There is so much I do not know or understand. I guess that is why I sometimes write on this page. It might sound like incoherent ramblings or preachy but it is my learning process. You are welcome to my learning curve. I always say that you can learn something from any situation even if you do not agree or you are not heard. Recently I had a conversation about First Nations logos and mascots with someone who is not First Nations. This brought up a lot of questions as to why someone would respond the way they do and why I respond the way I do. Why does each person feel they are correct? The only view that this person wanted to see this issue from was by placing it inside a box. A box that did not have race, color, religion, creed, etc.. Anything else was derailing from the issue, which was the mascot/logo had nothing to do with perceived racism but rather a school’s history, pride, & spirit. At first I wanted to say that they were whitewashing the issue, but then I thought First Nations were whitewashing themselves here, lol. Canadians have the right not to have culture and religion pushed on them. However I felt like the issue was deeper and how dare anyone say I didn’t have a right to state otherwise. So a lot of issues came up for me, such as whitewashing, cultural sensitivity, re-appropriation. While for them these issues did not exist and could not exist in the context of some First Nations getting rid of the image/logo. That made me feel like I was put inside a box in a closet, because what I was saying was inconvenient. I see this lot in society, where people want to put the cultures inside these boxes and put neatly into closets. Hidden from plain view and taken out only when I want to look at them. As a person of color, I could not wrap my head around that concept because I live it every day, I want to be seen as such, and I want to be respected for it. I do not want to assimilate and I respect those Canadians that have absorbed into society, that is their right. I will not do that and that is my right. Now how does my right not step on their toes? Should I care? But where does the phrase 'do unto others' come into play? Just because something does not ring true for you does not mean it does not exist, right? All of these questions, I am experiencing them while the other person in the conversation walks away scot-free. Then it hit me, that what was happening here was their power of privilege. They had the power of privilege to put me inside that box, neatly put me away inside their closet, and silence me. They have the power of privilege to say that these logos/images of my race did not affect them because they are colorblind and it does not affect their everyday life They are neither connected to them or care to be. As soon as their rights were deemed stepped upon, censored, taken away, then all hell broke loose. They choose not to see what a person of color has to go through internally based on these logos and imagery and they don’t care. They will however run around and find another First Nations to help them argue their own points but not for the basis of understanding mine, go figure. It is like they are saying "Oh well of course I don't want racism" but I will perpetuate the ideas of it because my rights are being stepped on. Sometimes I think willful ignorance is truly bliss and I should stop caring what Canadians think and do. And just go sovereign on their asses. But then I think about how my ancestors accepted them, loved them, helped them, learned from them. Because they are me and I am them. I remember that everything and everyone is connected, even when THEY refuse to see that. We are all in this together. I also think no one cares and there's so much more Canadians that get it and I should focus on that. I don't know sometimes, and my conclusion is...that is okay.