Like it or not, we are adults who have grown up into a world which is objectively unfair. We could go into the reasons why -- like the deregulation of corporate shenanigans which crashed our economy and rapes our ecosystem, or the wild inflation of tuition that's buried us in debt. It must be a struggle, having to listen to scary words you don't like from little people you don't respect.
Even if I don't have the minutest idea of what it means to navigate life as a black person, I pledge that I will always stand in solidarity with those who do. Not only will I open myself to listen to the voices of the community without moderating them, but I will also make my words my protest, my sit-in. And if I cannot help in the fight for justice and equality, I will never impede those who can, or those who fight for it, humanely.
As power and privilege concentrate at the highest offices in our country, little room is left for the unusual suspects. We need white privileged men to play an active role in changing the status quo. Prime Minister Trudeau has, to his credit, accomplished an elusive and noteworthy achievement by using his privilege to bridge the often insurmountable leap between merit and power. He made space for his colleagues who deserve to operate in that exclusive arena.
Despite the importance of Viola Davis' impassioned speech, General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn created a tizzy over Twitter, firing back on Davis' speech by saying, "Im a f--king actress for 40 yrs. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled." And so the epitome of white privilege reared its ugly head.
I am privileged. I am white, straight, cisgendered, thin, middle class, first world, able-bodied. Apart from my gender, I've pretty much hit the privilege jackpot. Even being a female, I recognize that the oppression and discrimination I've experienced (and I have) is tame compared to those in other parts of the world. In terms of access and resources and genetics - I was born with a big fat horseshoe inserted squarely up my ass. And I'm one of the few that knows it.
Pamela Wallin admitted to accounting mishaps, paid back her loot and then cried "lynching." Mayor Rob Ford's family and fans referred to his well-deserved scrutiny as "a lynching." It is nothing of the sort. They have no right to compare their media scrutiny or professional strife to African slavery, the Holocaust or any other systemic international human catastrophe. Words can wound.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never considered my privilege as a white person until about two years ago. Sure, I was aware of racism, but I didn't stop to connect it to me and the colour of my skin. White people walk through the world differently. We carry a privilege we have not earned and cannot unhave. I really hope one day that's not true. But, in the meantime, it's our job to use our privilege to educate and make right. This all starts with admitting that privilege is an actual thing and that it's problematic.
I got home and found out about George Zimmerman's acquittal. I watched white people make this about them, and then I watched them slowly but surely provide themselves with the tools to forget that this had ever happened. And I watched black people wonder if their kid was next. When people of colour raise their voice, I'm going to do my best to make sure that they get a megaphone, and then I'm going to hightail it to the back of the room and listen.
Canadians gloss over our bloody history in order to pretend that we're better than the rest of the world, that racism isn't an issue here. It's only not an issue if you're not a person of colour. It's only not an issue if you've never had to watch your children grow up and battle their own skin colour in order to live. It's only not an issue if you're not someone like Trayvon Martin, walking in a neighbourhood where he looked suspicious because he was black.
Comic memoirs facilitate emotional, intellectual, and ethical investments in the experiences of others. It is not about appropriation, or belittling empathy, nor is it a search for satisfaction via vicarious experience. It is about imagination and the transformative power of visual/verbal works that document the world around us, as anti-racist work calls for the re-imagination of that world.