{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Open Letter to White Edmonton About White Privilege

Dear White Edmontonians,

I am dismayed and disappointed by the overwhelmingly negative response to the Racisim Free Edmonton Campaign, most of which seems to be coming from white Edmontonians. That’s the first indication we have a problem.

Just to be clear, I’m talking to white folk in Edmonton in this post, as a white person who has in recent years started to come to terms with her own internalized racism and white privilege. I’m not an expert in any of this: I am at best an advanced beginner.

So I have some things to say, as a fellow white Edmontonian:

  1. You have white privilege. Not knowing you have it is part of how it works.
  2. It’s not your fault. Chance determined the colour of your skin which is a thing you can’t change just like someone of colour can’t change theirs.
  3. Because having white privilege is not your fault doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  4. Learning all this for this first time sucks. But so does racism and a world that privileges one group of people over another. Deal with it.

I also have a couple of things to say about the campaign:

  1. It’s not perfect. There are some legitimate complaints about the writing positioning “us” and “we” against “them”. This argument is not wrong.
  2. The campaign is over simplified in places. Probably in more places than I realize.
  3. In regards to items 1 and 2 above, the campaign has to be oversimplified in some respects because it’s targeted at a general overwhelmingly white public that probably has never heard of white privilege before and so it needs to be simple and short while still getting the main point across. Which I think it does fairly well.

 

Okay.

Now that you’re all gnashing your teeth at me, before you wade knee deep into a conversation about race and whether or not the campaign is racist please educate yourself first. Google “white privilege”. Learn how racism works.

Here are some resources to get you started. Some of these links I found on my own, some of them have been pointed out to me as “Important, Read This” by various people in a position to know way more about this topic than me, and some of them are well-known resources for anyone who has dared to wade into racism on the internet.

Comment Policy: If things get out of control I will have to freeze comments on this post because I just don’t have time to moderate the type of conversation this post might generate in the way it needs to be moderated. I almost didn’t publish it for that reason.

3 Comments to post “Open Letter to White Edmonton About White Privilege”

  1. Ian says:

    Great post Rachelle! Many Canadians have this self-delusion that racism doesn’t exist here because we don’t talk about it, and yet poverty ravages our aboriginal communities and cross burnings still occur. Keep up the good work!

    • afterthree says:

      Canadian racism isn’t as “black and white” related like it is in the states: our racial battle grounds are definitely “white and native”. The way many people here talk about our aboriginal people with an “I’m just saying” and “some stereotypes are just true” attitudes makes me queasy.

    • afterthree says:

      (Which isn’t to say Canada is racism-free when it comes to people of colour either, but our worst institutionalized racism is definitely directed at our aboriginal populations.)