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.