Confronting your white privilege requires self-reflection

Being anti-racist starts with putting in the work to understand privilege

Allyship is every white Canadian's responsibility.
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To be born white is to be born into the path of least resistance. To be born white is to be born historically ‘Canadian.’ This perception needs to change. To become true allies to racialized groups, white people must recognize their privilege as a problem only they can solve. 

Canada’s institutions stand on a foundation of racist bricks. To combat the systemic injustices plaguing our society, we, as white people, must challenge our privilege by acknowledging how skin tone dictates opportunity and safety. 

Ask yourself: if you couldn’t breathe, would the police listen? White privilege is security in knowing this country’s law enforcement protects and serves you. It’s being confident police won’t target you when minding your own business. It’s knowing you won’t be the next George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, or Trayvon Martin

White privilege is being favoured in the eyes of the law. Canada’s criminal justice system disproportionately sentences Black people. Black Canadians make up three per cent of the country’s population, yet they account for over 10 per cent of Canada’s prison inmates

As it stands, justice is non-existent for Black people in North America. 

Our education systems also facilitate white privilege. In 2016, a study found that while 94 per cent of Black youth aged 15 to 25 reported wanting to obtain a university degree, only 60 per cent believed they could obtain one. A coincidence? You’d be privileged to think so. The Canadian education system hasn’t shown itself to be a kind or inspiring place for Black people

White privilege is the freedom to engage with Black culture on a surface level. It’s cheering for LeBron James on the basketball court but grumpily asking, “who’s going to pay for this?” when he opens a school for inner-city kids off the court. It’s listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and complaining that it isn’t party music. It’s believing there to be no racism behind the Oscars 'accidentally' awarding La-La Land best picture over Moonlight

Black culture is deep-rooted in sports, music, and art. We readily idolize Black celebrities but are quick to ignore their history. We, as white people, have the privilege to enjoy Black creativity independently from Black lived experiences. But for many Black artists, their creations and harsh realities are inseparable. 

Fellow white people, are you angry yet? You should be. You should be furious. We can’t turn a blind eye to injustice and oppression because it doesn’t disadvantage us. Instead, we must evaluate how we’ve benefited from white privilege, then turn that knowledge into action. Putting in the work is hard, but valuable change never comes easy. 

Resist the urge to hop on trends. Racism won’t be ‘solved’ by sharing Instagram posts. If we, as white people, are to be true allies, we must be better than trends. Systemic issues require systemic solutions.

You might not be ‘racist,’ but you may know someone who is. Instead of being silent, use your privilege to challenge their racist behaviour. 

When it comes time, weaponize your privilege to fight for good. For example, your vote has always mattered at the polls, so use it wisely. Elect politicians who recognize white privilege and will take meaningful action against systemic racism. Vote for longer tables, not higher barriers.

Stop saying “all lives matter,” because as a white Canadian, your life has always mattered to those in power—that’s never been questioned. Becoming anti-racist means being intolerant to racist language and correcting racist behaviour. Defy any whitewashed perception of normal.  

I’m committing myself to becoming a better ally. I want to be part of a necessary shift in society by holding myself accountable and learning from my past mistakes. No one is perfect, and now isn’t the time to be sorry; it’s the time to be better. It’s long past time to use our white privilege to support the voices of Black people. 

This should sound like a call to action. It is. How will you answer it? 

You should start by saying Black Lives Matter.

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