solidarity really is for white women and i want to be part of changing that

August 30, 2013 | 39 Comments

Shannon Fisher looking right at you

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  • http://www.writinglife.ca A. Mary Murphy

    Shannon, a couple of years ago, I taught an intro to feminism course and a contemporary feminist theory course, and both texts addressed this problem you’re grappling with. You might find the texts useful. For the intro course, I used Women’s Lives: Multicultural Perspectives, by Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey (2010) and each chapter includes a selection of essays by a broad variety of thinkers. The other text is Contemporary Feminist Theory and Activism: Six Global Issues, by Wendy Lynne Lee (2010). When we talk about these things, we have to consider not only race but region and a whole slew of other stuff. I have always said that Alberta is more classist than racist. That doesn’t mean it isn’t racist. And I think in Canada that First Nations people bear the brunt of the racist energy. My opinion is that we have to own our history, know it and acknowledge it. Canada has not always been a shiny example of tolerance. And the best thing to do after the history lesson is to listen, instead of telling people what their experience has been. That’s what I think.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Mary. It’s for sure a complicated, multi-layered issue. I appreciate you sharing those titles with me. I agree about Alberta and First Nations. I grew up hearing “Indian” jokes. I remember at a certain age beginning to feel an unease when it would happen.

      Yes. Listening. I’m working hard to listen.

  • http://www.eco-bravo.ca Cher

    That really made me think. I’ve never truly thought about the privilege of being white, although I know it’s sadly true. I wish there was another term for the “in-between” which I think most Canadians would fall into. We would be horrified at the thought of being racist but that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic cultural differences that we can’t understand or relate to and this puts us at a disadvantage to being totally accepting towards some cultures/races. How many cultural stereotypes have we heard being “joked” about from friends/family or even ourselves, or a statement made followed by “I’m not racist or anything but”. These barriers between cultures is still a huge issue in Canada and I love that you’ve started a conversation here. It would be incredibly helpful to hear how inter-racial friends deal with issues or stereotypes that come up and what we can do about it.

    • Shannon

      When you say “in-between” what you do mean? If you follow that first link I shared under “Important Reads,” there’s a great video addressing the question of how to handle privilege in interracial friendships.

      I think listening is key. Checking in with our friends of colour to see how their experiences line up with ours. And all of the steps to combatting microaggressions. I found those really helpful, too.

      Thanks for being here, Cher.

  • http://www.pinkchaistyle.com Raj

    Wow – once again Shannon you write with the kind of honesty that people rarely have the courage to exhibit on the internet or in real life.

    I grew up in Surrey in the 80’s when they white children out numbered the coloured ones (sorry I don’t know the right term). I had some friends but even they called me a “paki” and said I smelled like curry but then said – it’s just a joke.As I got older I was drawn towards other Indian girls – those that understood what it was like to grow up crushed between two cultures, and didn’t look at me with sympathy like I felt so many of the white girls did.

    I have always maintained that friendships with my Indian friends are easier, there is a level of cultural understanding there that I will never have with someone of another race. Even today when I have many friends that aren’t Indian, I feel any discussions we have around my unique cultural issues it’s more like I’m a research project or textbook to learn from, whereas talking to an Indian girlfriend they just get it.

    The part of your post that really got me was the final paragraph. So many times in my life (especially in elementary school) I was the target because of my race, but none of my white friends ever saw it that way. Yes kids are mean, but it’s also very easy to turn a blind eye when you aren’t the target of racism.

    • Shannon

      What a thoughtful respons, Raj.

      “…crushed between two cultures…” And that’s something your white friends didn’t have to think about, because it wasn’t their reality. I never gave it any thought either as a child or as an adult. I wonder what kind of friend I could have been had I taken on the role of ally back then.

      I’m sorry this was your experience. Thanks for sharing it here. I don’t imagine feeling like a research project is the funnest. I’ll be sure to me more mindful of this.

      I’m thankful for you.

  • http://momentsinmommyland.com Carolyn

    I think I’d have to admit that I’d be one of those people who never really gave it thought. I grew up in a school where half of my class were from various places, but mostly Korea. Because we all hung out together and the biggest race centered conversation we had was based on what we all had for lunch, I never wondered if even that could have made some uncomfortable by being different.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://www.reallifeformom.blogspot.ca Salma

    My experience with racism was similar to Raj’s. I grew up in Coquitlam and there was only myself and one other ‘brown girl’ in our school. There seemed to be quite a few ‘mean girls’ I had a really hard time and I do believe it affected me and my self confidence growing up.
    After reading your post, I began to wonder if I now have blinders to colors as well to forget about the things that happened growing up and live what I like to think is a racial prejudice free life. It has given me a lot to think about.

  • http://www.weekdays-from-scratch.blogspot.com Sharilyn

    I have never even thought about being privilaged because I am white and female- my sister and I were raised in a small town that surprisingly had very diverse ethnic back grounds. Reading this was eye opening- I never even thought about some of the points raised- thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.motheryourbusiness.com Heather

    Love your analysis, awesome article!

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