{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Posts Tagged ‘race’

Open Letter to White Edmonton About White Privilege

Monday, November 8th, 2010

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.

Leave a Comment (3) »

Linkspam: Feminism, Privilege & Menswear Squee

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I am officially switching linkspam day from Monday to Tuesday. I hardly have time to eat on Mondays never mind blog, so I’m not sure what I was thinking when I picked that day. So, technically, that means I’m not actually late. *wink*

Feminism & Women
  • Feministe asks why, when asked to cover Reshma Saujani’s New York Congressional campaign, the reporter chose to write, not about issues, but about shoes. This is a long-standing debate about the way things should be and the way things are, and how and when females do or should respond in which way. A female Congressional candidate shouldn’t have to worry about the message her shoes are sending any more than a male Congressional candidate worries about his. The reality, however, is that women in politics will be judged on their appearance and fashion choices in the current cultural climate and have to deal with it and all its maddening mixed messages if they want their opinions heard. Fair is not always synonymous with reality is the point I think Susan Dominus was trying to make in the origina New York Times article, though in a roundabout, meandering sort of way. In the end, the article seemed to be more about the shoes than it was about anything else, which is probably a pretty good example of exactly what we’re talking about here.
  • On Livejournal, Karnythia talks about the challenges of being pretty. Society does privilege attractive people, but as a woman and a person of colour the intersections of misogyny still cause problems, some of which can be exacerbated by being pretty. More opportunity, but also more grabbie hands (and sometimes actual hands, because being female means your body is public property to some people).
  • In news about women being just as bad as men when it comes to sexism, Caster Semenya’s competitors are still flailing about her gender. Outstanding talent and ability in athletes — male and female — should be praised, not vilified. Regardless of whether or not this issue should have ever even been an issue (much less a public one) it has been officially settled. Calling her a “man” at this point is a cheap shot. How can women ever expect men to treat us better if we don’t treat each other better?

 

Privilege
  • This post is called The Myth of White Male Geek Rationality but it’s valid reading for everyone. This is about the realities of implicit bias, of unconscious -isms, of invisible discrimination and naïvety. The tricky thing about -isms is how subconscious they are, how they set into our brains without our knowing it and create rules we don’t consciously know about. Think you’re “colourblind”? Think you don’t treat women differently than men? You’re not and you do. This isn’t something we should feel guilty about, but it is something we must awknowledge in order to change. We are all biased: no one is exempt. Some people are just more aware of our biases than others, and actively try to catch and correct them.

 

Clothing & Costuming
  • A fantastic primer on menswear, with special emphasis on suit styles and cuts. I cannot begin to express my glee at this. I love menswear, and wish more of my male friends would let me go clothing shopping with them. As much as I didn’t enjoy the cut-through culture of working at Tip Top Tailors years ago, I do miss the deep satisfaction of matching men with just the right suit, shirt and tie. This tutorial may appear to the uninformed to be comprehensive, but menswear lovers will know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Comments Off

International Blog Against Racism Week

Monday, July 27th, 2009

International Blog Against Racism Week starts today and runs until August 2. It just happens to coincide with some links I wanted to throw out there.

Justine Larbalestier has posted on her blog regarding the white-washed US cover of her book, Liar, which features a black female protagonist. She talks about how she fought against the cover, but ultimately lost the battle because authors have very little control over the covers of their books. Publishers pick a cover they think will sell, and right now the publishing and retail worlds believe books with faces on them sell better unless those faces are black ones. Larbalestier draws the connection between marketing dollars and black faces, saying “I have found few examples of books with a person of colour on the cover that have had the full weight of a publishing house behind them … all we can say is that poorly publicised books with “black covers” don’t sell [which] is usually true of poorly publicised books with “white covers”.” She then wonders if “the big publishing houses really only in the business of selling books to white people” and I can’t help but agree with her.

Larbalestier goes on to speak about how covers can change the way people read books:

Liar is a book about a compulsive (possibly pathological) liar who is determined to stop lying but finds it much harder than she supposed. I worked very hard to make sure that the fundamentals of who Micah is were believable: that she’s a girl, that she’s a teenager, that she’s black, that she’s USian. One of the most upsetting impacts of the cover is that it’s led readers to question everything about Micah: If she doesn’t look anything like the girl on the cover maybe nothing she says is true. At which point the entire book, and all my hard work, crumbles.

Online reviews show this is exactly what’s happening. So, even aside from the fact that white-washing these covers is racist (and that’s a huge aside), they also affect the artistic and thematic integrity of the work they’re supposed to be representing.

International Blog Against Racism Week is just starting up, and I’ll be taking some time out of my week to read through the posts that come from it. Even if you have nothing to add, it’s an important conversation to listen to.

Comments Off

Thinky Thoughts

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I have been following the latest round of Cultural Appropriation discussions for the last week (and, only slightly less recently, the Avatar: The Last Airbender discussions centreing around the all-white cast for the movie), and as a result I have some thoughts floating around in my head that seem to need to be expressed in a concrete way. This post is largely for my own benefit, as a way of working through little bits of exploding consciousness and awareness. Sometimes the only hope I have of understanding my own head is by pinning thoughts down to a page. Those of you used to fandom-squee, please forgive (and feel free to completely ignore) the following stream-of-consciousness.

Things I Have Been Thinking About

Comments Off