RACE RELATIONS

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Why Calling Me a Brown Girl Isn't Racist

Here is the thing -- "brown" is not a derogatory term. It is not a word rooted in oppression, exclusion, bigotry, or hatred of any kind at the social or institutional level. The term is value neutral. It holds no malice, or intent to harm. It is not a powerful reminder of disenfranchisement and racial divisions such as the term"n*****." As wonderful as it is that people want to step up to the plate to help create inclusion and openness, I just wish it was with some context. Instead, get up off your feet when you hear some of the following slurs that are offensive and have been historically directed towards brown people.
MICHAEL B. THOMAS via Getty Images

Dear Angry White People, The Ferguson Protest Was Not About You

I won't go into the details of black groups being marginalized at the hands of white people who dominate the "center," because if you're smart enough to think that you fooled us into feeling remorse for "leaving you out" during the protest in Toronto, then you're smart enough to do a Google search to figure out historical black oppression and its endless contemporary reproductions.
Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Dear Whoopi: Black Canadians Take the N-Word Just as Seriously as You

The same issues of white versus black racism aren't as deeply woven into Canadian society. Think this is what Whoopi was trying to get at. But racism and discrimination still exist. It has the same purpose it has in the U.S. Just because it's coming out of the mouth of a Canadian doesn't change its meaning or context. People in Canada still want to touch a black woman's braids with amazement and wonder. Canadian cities have pockets of poor community housing disproportionately populated by blacks. The racial issues are still there. They're just served up on a different platter, because it's a different country, with a different history.
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A White Canadian in Harlem

It's impossible for me to be invisible in Harlem. I'm not just me; I stand for something. "They even come up here now," a guy said to my face with disdain. I'm a they; some kind of collective face. I feel strangely protected in my conspicuousness, but that might be an illusion. But I'm not the only white woman in Harlem, of course.
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Racism Isn't Just An American Thing

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.

How I Realized I Was Part Black

My second "wow" moment came as I made friends with my black neighbours and they asked me about my racial background. I would tell them I wasn't sure and they would invariably tell me I looked like a family member or a good friend who was considered "high yellow." High yellow blacks often pass for white. So at the age of 29 my identity as a white person ended..