How often do you think about the colour of your skin?
If you’re white like me and live in Canada, my guess is that your answer is probably rarely. I may think about my whiteness every few weeks or months. If you ask a person of colour this same question you will likely hear they regularly think about their skin colour — perhaps every day. The reason is that they live in a world of ‘white privilege’ and wonder whether the words, actions or decisions by others have anything to do with their skin colour.
- When they apply for a job, was the decision about who was appointed based on the colour of their skin?
- When someone is rude to them, was it because they aren’t white?
- When a person cuts in front of them, was it because they don’t look like most people in their community?
I don’t wonder whether my skin colour is the reason I am stopped at the highway check stop, if someone doesn’t speak to me in the store, or if I am bypassed for service at a coffee bar. There are surely reasons for all of these things happening, but it’s not because I’m white.
Maybe you’re thinking that I’m exaggerating or perhaps even completely wrong. If that’s the case, you’re wrong. Racism exists — it’s in our stores, in our offices and in our schools. People of colour experience it — they also think about it regularly — more than a person who is white.
“OK, so we still have a long ways to go in our society to build equality. I get that. But, that doesn’t make ME a racist. I don’t do anything because of a person’s skin colour. I’m not part of the problem.”
Hmmmm … are you sure?
(More on Page 2)