Day 180 (of 186) on privilege- thinking of @pernilleripp
Pernille looks like she could be on a tv sitcom representing a typical. Or the American family. Not because she’s white with blonde hair, but like so many she’s an immigrant making a “better life”. And best of all, pointing out things that “aren’t right” because many prejudge her as “not an immigrant” because of her hair and skin colour…..(many ironies here). But at iste she made a powerful declaration
North America has a long history of hypocrisy in its immigration policies…which at times have been “covered up” by school systems. Canada likes to consider itself a “multi-cultural mosaic” – as long as you don’t google search the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Komagata Maru or when Jewish families were leaving Europe in the 1930s or even/especially Residential Schools. We may poke fun at our cousins to the south about “wall building” and attitudes towards Islamic Immigration but largely only because we don’t like to look at our own track record when we haven’t “walked the talk” of multi-culturalism.
As a white male, I thought that when I played an “awareness activity” that I would have scored higher (and more privileged) than I actually did. Maybe because I haven’t always been “of the majority” where I have lived and worked…but my privilege exists when I move from area to area – and my own expectation that others are treated as I am – sometimes fairly sometimes unfairly but typically “equally”.
I’ll even admit I had some prejudices in my youth that have changed as I became better aware – specifically not prejudging groups based on interactions (or lack thereof) with individuals. It’s important to acknowledge that our thinking yesterday and today does not have to be the same as tomorrow. I hope I am never stuck in a “fixed mindset”. I’ve even admitted when I thought some of my past thinkings were wrong and that I’d likely see that I was on the wrong side of the fence. As a f’r instance – I’m not a fan of “affirmative action” but that’s because philosophically I believe everyone should be treated fairly based on abilities and skill sets. I don’t like it when jobs are posted saying people of specific ancestries may be given preference…but pragmatically I “get it”. Our systems have not been kind to certain groups of people. We have to get it right…we have to do better.
It’s why I respect people like Teresa Downs who, as superintendent of Gold Trail sharing her own thoughts and facing expected (and unexpected) criticisms of her and her job… https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/racism-campaign-school-district-74-1.4566779
It’s not easy to reflect that perhaps schooling and working experiences were better for some than others because of having a “right look”. But I shake my head when reading opeds calling for her to step down if privilege got her to what she is doing – because it takes key skills to be a superintendent and two wrongs don’t make a right. What we want to do is make better decisions each day. Make mindful decisions that consider how attitudes may have influenced journeys….my dad got looks from his teachers because of where his address said he lived….distrustful looks….and that made him very aware of obstacles “others” will face for a variety of reasons beyond skin colour.
But I also know that things aren’t yet where we ought to be as a society – while I teach my kids how to address a police office, I don’t have the same conversation as seen in the tv show Blackish https://youtu.be/SwcychAm–s
with my family that others need to – especially about figures of authority…and that needs to change. And this episode did lead to some very good discussions about why an episode like this needs to be aired.
And while thinking about Pernilles iste presentation, I liked what I read on twitter where someone pointed out that discussions on white privilege is not just about saying sorry for what has been done, but also being willing…being mindful…to change things today for a better tomorrow. Systems and thinkings need to be more inclusionary in practice and in thinking.
Talking about this can be uncomfortable enough….walking the talk….even more so. But if enough people make mindful changes in their thinking and doing – it might just be enough. Starts have included more couples being able to be officially/legally wedded, females being able to drive in some countries they couldn’t a few weeks ago, but so much more still to be adjusted so that everyone has a sense of equal value to our local, regional, political, and global communities. We are getting there and conversations about “privilege” can help. They’re just not always comfortable – but “we” (of all communities) gotta be comfortable with the uncomfortable to make things better. Like with education being in that zone of proximal Learning is where things happen!