“Justice will not be served until those that are unaffected are as outraged as those who are”
Race and white privilege have been at the forefront of my thoughts since watching the riots in Charlottesville last week. These issues are nothing new and are certainly not exclusive to that corner of the world. Beyond the violence, the anger, the ignorance and the painful sadness of the current state of humans on Earth - it is shocking to me how easy it is to be removed from all of it. And that’s not to say that issues of racism and classism do not exist in my neck of the woods . While angry white nationalist are a glaring example of extreme racism they are by far not the face of racism today. Issues of race, gender, discrimination, human rights and equality run far deeper below the surface and most often go unnoticed by the seemingly “unaffected”. This goes beyond black and white and the solutions lie within each one of us connecting with our own personal stories and co-creating a world where we are global citizens….unique, diverse and still One people sharing this Planet.
I have read many post from various communities of people feeling guilty, helpless, sad, angry and not knowing how to respond. Educate yourself. Don’t just watch the news. Study some history. Ask questions. Racism, oppression and discrimination are far more sophisticated than the angry white dudes in Charlottesville. I would love to dive into that topic but it is beyond the scope of this post.
This is my story and my perceptions. It is longer than a facebook post so the full version will have to wait.
They say we choose our parents. You could say that I am 1 part white privilege and 1 part child of slavery. Our parents are what tie us to our ancestral time line leading back to the beginning of human existence. Consider the complexity of this matrix that births our unique expression. We are record holders. We store memories, experiences and feelings in our cells and our DNA. There is nothing random about our existence or who we are on this planet. Off course we can have an infinite variety of experiences and a life of our own design but what are the subtle nuanced expressions of this origin story that is unique to each of of us?
I am a child of a bi-racial marriage. I am a child of the 70’s. To put this into context, on June 12, 1967 (5 years prior to my birth) marriage across racial and ethnic lines was deemed federally legal in the US. Up until that point you could be thrown in jail and it’s pretty much guaranteed you would be victim to strong social judgment and possible violence. Alabama was the last state to completely lift bans against interracial marriage in 2000! Although interracial marriage has become more commonly acceptable it is still a shockingly taboo subject among some communities.
In my case I was born in Toronto to a first generation Jamaican immigrant father and a Canadian mother. My ancestors were both slaves and oppressors. I was born with light olive skin and a head of white blond curly hair. I had an “exotic look” but essentially I looked white enough to blend into my very white anglo saxon world. As far back as I can remember I never felt like I fit in. Half of me was not represented in the world around me. From where I stand right now I am so grateful for the life that I have lived and the experiences that have to led me to this moment in time. That being said I have spent the greater part of my life working to unpack who I am and where I fit into this world. Who we are runs so much deeper than the colour of our skin and privilege we may or may not have in this lifetime.
Toronto is a very multicultural city so I was always exposed to people of colour. Our family friends were of diverse ethnicity and social status. However for the most part we all lived in a very white culture. As I mentioned I essentially fit into this world just fine...except half of me wasn’t really represented and I always had a sense of not belonging. I kinda looked white but I knew I wasn’t the “establishment white” that my friends were. And although I was “half black”, when I was with people of obvious colour I could relate to their struggle and felt like they were more “my people”, I still felt like a bit of an imposter because for the most part I didn’t have to deal with any overt racism or prejudice.
My father’s professional success put him in a place where he was well respected and essentially above all socially or racially related criticism.
As a first generation immigrant from Jamaica he had essentially bi-passed the racial oppression that people all over the world still struggle with today. And I had a free pass into this world. Yet the deepest part of myself told me these aren’t my people this isn’t my world.
If you want to contribute to a more evolved society start looking at the ways in which your thoughts and opinions are formed. We live in a socially engineered fear based society. And what we have been taught to fear changes depending on the social agenda of the day. At one point in time film and media taught us to fear “the savage black people” that were raping “our women”. Currently we are told to fear those “brown” terrorists that are threatening our democratic way of life. The list goes on and if you think that you do not contribute or are unaffected by this it’s time to re-think.
Ultimately we all have some work to do. How do we exist as living beings on this planet... one that is not defined by race, gender, geography, or social status...these are social constructs, illusions, and tools to define and divide us. Who we are as a race of people can shift and evolve but we need to occupy a higher version of ourselves.
Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.
That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.
That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race -
Dis a war.
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.