RACISM – It’s Time to Talk!

Point #1: The vast majority of people in Canada consider themselves non-racist.

If this is true, why is racism so prevalent? And, yes, it is everywhere — in our grocery stores, on the town sidewalks, on the soccer field sidelines, and in our schools. It’s there — every day — in every corner of our community. It can be blatant or subtle, but it’s there.

Maybe, you and I are actually part of the problem. Actually, the odds are pretty good we play a role.

If you are finding this blog post a bit accusatory, that is not my intention. What I’m attempting to do is ensure that you are open to the possibility that you are playing a role in perpetuating racism. Being in the right mindset — open to your own biases, your own privileges, and your own words or behaviours that may be racist — is how we find space to move the important work of anti-racism forward.

Kamloops Indian Residential School

Point #2: If we choose to not take clear action when we see racism we actively contribute to it.

It’s time to feel a bit uncomfortable.

“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”

Peggy McIntosh
  • Do you shy away from calling out a racist joke because it makes you uncomfortable?
  • Do you dismiss another’s racist words with “Oh, that’s just _____. He/she is always like that.”?
  • Do you diminish a racist overture with, “Don’t take offense to that. I’m sure it wasn’t intended in a negative way”?
  • Do you shy away from the difficult conversations because you worry that you might upset the other person?

Point #3: If you’re not ready to reflect about your role in racism, you’re not ready to be part of the solution.

I’m a pretty good person — I feel that I’m honest, transparent, consistent and kind. I’d like to think so anyways. And, I’m certainly not racist — or am I? I don’t judge people by the colour of their skin, the religion they practice, nor the language they speak at home.

Until fairly recently, I used to say, “I don’t see colour when I look at people. I judge them on who they are, not what they are.” I have learned that I have been contributing to racism by saying that. How? I was unconsciously diminishing the reality of the person of colour. When I say that I don’t see their colour, I am telling them that their world is colour-blind which it is not.

Point #4: If you’re white like me, you are living in a world of privilege in Canada.

The Book I Am Reading At The Moment

Some examples of white privilege:

  • As a white person, I can easily arrange to be in the company of people with my same skin tone.
  • When our national heritage is discussed, I see examples of people who look like me.
  • I did not have to educate my own children to be aware of systemic racism for their own physical protection.
  • If I am pulled over by a police officer, I am sure that it is not because of the colour of my skin.
  • If I need medical care, I am confident that I will not be discriminated against because I am white.
  • As a child, I was never told that my whiteness would work against me.
  • The colour of my skin was never discussed in a conversation about my future ambitions or how I would be treated by the world.

If you’re white you have a distinct advantage over non-white people.

  • People of colour often think about their colour and whether it plays a role in other’s actions or decisions. White people do not do this.
  • Just because there have been legal changes in civil rights, this does not automatically change the deeply held social construct that there are biologically different races and one race is superior to others.
  • Only 0.01% of our genes represent our external appearance. So, 99.99% of our gene expression is invisible to us, yet we use the outward appearance of people to treat them differently.
  • There is only one human race, yet we talk about different races of people.


I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks.

Peggy McIntosh

We live in a society of white privilege. And because of that, I have been advantaged.

Layla F. Saad

Once we accept this fact, our lens of appreciative inquiry will widen to allow for greater understanding. It also provides us with a strong reason to become active anti-racists.

My passion at the moment is to become stronger at anti-racism — for challenging the status quo and holding myself accountable for being a voice of progress. There are ways to do so with respect and calmness, but being quiet or passive is not an option if we want to change our collective mindset.

My next blog post will be a deeper dive into my own learnings on white privilege and the necessary work that lays ahead. I hope you will join me on my journey on being better.

You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand.

Layla F. Saad (Author of ‘me and white supremacy’)

6 thoughts on “RACISM – It’s Time to Talk!

  1. 1. I have felt that to say that one is colour blind is an insult. People I have met have given the impression that they would like their diversity acknowledged and celebrated.
    2. An activist (apologies for not remembering the name) stated that everyone is racist from the point of view that they see what is similar and what is different. What counts is whether one makes prejudicial decisions on the basis of racism.
    3. I don’t think I have the right to say whether or not prejudice exists. I bow to the judgement of those who are affected negatively.
    4. People who have been negatively affected by prejudice need to have the major voice in how it is addressed. For too long people who have been advantaged have thought they know best about how to redress the situation and have acted accordingly with the result that little changes on a systemic basis.


    • Hi Sheila,
      I am so pleased to see that this topic is generating commentary. That was the idea — to stimulate deeper conversation on the topic of racism. Thank you for your additional points. I look forward to sharing my continuing learning on this topic in my next blog, and invite you to comment again.


  2. Dear Dave

    Hello from the UK and thank you for your post. However, I note on page 2 via the link at the bottom of your article that Layla Saad writes “There is only one human race, yet we talk about different races of people.”

    This is of course true, therefore there is no such thing as racism as this is a false premise. There is nationalism, tribalism, even family-ism (!), but no such thing as racism. I wrote this article if you are interested.


    Kind regards.


    • Thank you for your comments. It is true that there is only one race — the human race. And, so while I believe your argument makes some logical sense because of that, we still use the word racism. I will take a peek at your article. Thank you for sharing. I am glad this topic is stimulating this kind of discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

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