1) The notion that “White Privilege” is offensive and racist towards White People.
Racism, cultural appropriation, and discrimination have been a hot-button issue throughout history. With the rise of social media platforms, along with the recent election of Donald Trump, there is a plethora of conversation online (and in print) about the hateful rhetoric that seems to be plaguing today’s society. Unfortunately, when people feel that their privilege is being threatened, they enter an automatic defense mode. It is often presented in such a manner where the defendant makes claims of innocence, justifying their feelings of discomfort by exclaiming that they are not guilty of racism, and that if their race is being questioned, that they are automatically being discriminated against. White privilege is not racist; it is not offensive in any way. It is a method of explaining the favorable treatment that white people often receive. There are no systems of oppression designed against white people. Thinking that reverse racism exists is what perpetuates the notion of white privilege further into the foundations of our society. It is a mechanism that is used to validate the comfortable position white people hold in society. Validating your own comfortable position by attacking a marginalized group (by saying white privilege is offensive, racist etc.) is a subtle way of invalidating and shutting down any group who’s LIVED EXPERIENCE has ever been one of systemic oppression. In extension, these feelings can often be described as “white fragility,” a state in which minimum amounts of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering outward displays of emotion, such as anger, and behaviours such as argumentation. Yeah, this definitely could have been left behind in 2016.
2) That any Indigenous culture should just “get over” colonization.
Really? This one amazes me every time I hear it. Let us take a brief moment to recall Canadian History because we are not innocent in the ways or racism and cultural oppression. Residential schools were opened in conjunction with the Catholic and Protestant Churches and the government. Their aim was to remove any form of Indigenous culture from Indigenous children by forcefully removing them from their homes, placing them in schools where they would be taught Western values. As such, a cultural genocide was committed. Often, when hearing the word “genocide,” events such as the Holocaust, Bosnian, and Rwandan genocides. That is because Canada has attempted to repress its history. The horrors of the Residential schools did not end until 1996. Yes, most of us were living when the last school shut its doors. During their time in the Residential schools, Indigenous children were beaten, sexually assaulted, and mentally abused by their instructors. Often, these traumas were difficult to cope with. A stigma surrounds Indigenous peoples in Canada. Many people chose to believe that status cards, funding, government aid, and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee should all be abolished. They question why we should continue to apologize, and why we should continue to work towards mending our relationship with Indigenous peoples. What does it take to get over something like this? How could you possibly put a numerical value on an apology, how can you, a white person, get to dictate the appropriate measures for reconciliation after a cultural genocide has been committed? When you say these things, you act as though you assume the role of the oppressed, you may think you understand their oppression, but you simply do not. I know I do not understand, I never could. However, it is important to listen, to engage in conversation, and to be respectful of what you cannot understand. Please read the above statement about white privilege and then rethink your questions and sweeping generalizations about Indigenous peoples and Indigenous culture.
3) “She was asking for it”- REALLY?
For God sakes. How is this type of conversation STILL taking place? Did we not learn after Jian Ghomeshi and Brock Allen-Turner? I simply do not understand. The legal process further victimizes rape victims. Belittlement and slut-shaming occur in the courtroom in order to find loopholes in the victim’s statement. By asking her, “did you say no?” you are questioning her pain and her experience. By asking her, “how much did you drink?” you are assuming that all drunk women are ‘asking for it’, by asking her “what were you wearing” or “how many men have you slept with in the past”, you are slut-shaming her. Although there are false reports of rape, the treatment of victims in the courtroom is inexcusable. This is the reason that rape and sexual assault are so underreported. This process favours the accused, often bringing into play irrelevant aspects of his character, his achievements, and what he strives for in life. However, this does not take into account aspects of the victim’s character, her (or his) achievements in life, and how what she/he had strived for may feel as though it has become so out of reach. It’s simple, folks. If you can’t say no, you can’t say yes. There is no in-between; there is no grey area. There is yes, and there is no. Stop blaming the victim. Stop validating your need for supremacy. Stop questioning the pain of others, instead, start regarding it.
4) Feelings of self-doubt, as brought on by Instagram and other forms of Social Media.
I am guilty of this. Most people are guilty of this. It is so easy to feel self-doubt, and it is so easy to think that your value decreases based on the perceived notion of “perfection” in the others who you see on social media. In the last 10 years, we have “networking” apps explode. The original purpose of these apps was to stay in touch with your friends, to be able to connect with people you haven’t seen in a long time and to keep others updated on what is going on in your own life. However, it feels as though there has been a shift in the dynamic, a change in the way we behave on the Internet. Often, all we see is the picture. We believe that everybody’s lives are perfect and full of happiness based on how they display themselves on social media. Getting the “perfect picture” and pairing it with a “fire” caption that will get you over 300 likes is often a goal of most people. I know I am not innocent. There have been multiple occasions where I have found myself thinking, “if I went to the gym more maybe I would look like her and then I would be as happy as she appears.” I know this is wrong. After a conversation with one of my roommates, I found out that she was feeling the same way. She talked to me about how miserable looking at Instagram makes her. It caused her to question her own happiness by constantly comparing it to other girls’ social media pages. So, she slowly began to stop looking as much. As did I. I’ll leave this point here: everybody has their issues, but we have been conditioned to try and keep our problems to yourself. A picture is just that: a picture. You see what the poster wants you to see, just remember that your self-worth should not be determined by a like or how the world views your Instagram page.
Islam is a religion of peace. Often, people do not believe this when it is brought up in conversation. The first time I heard this was in my 11th grade world religion class. Our teacher told us that Islam was the closest religion to Christianity. She was right. It is not Islam you are afraid of, it is the “otherness.” The sense that you see something different, and that you are uncomfortable within a realm of your own privilege is what sets you off. This rhetoric gained prominence after 9/11. We were scared of them. They were scared of us. Although I am not an expert in Islamic studies, I know many men and women from the Arab world who identify as Muslims, and I can honestly say that they are much nicer than many other people I know. If we remove the concept of the “other,” perhaps we will all be able to see each other as we are: human.