by: Reenita V
It was a big day on Nov 8th for our neighbours to the South of us and there are many, many feelings. Confirmation that the United States of America now has an openly misogynist, xenophobic, racist, white man in power seemed to have shocked so many to the core. There was most definitely not a social media feed without an outpouring of mourning, sadness, defeat, or surprise. When I awoke that morning, I hit snooze repeatedly, woke, checked my email, saw that Facebook had confirmed Trump had won, made coffee and started on my day. There as absolutely nothing surprising about the outcome of this election. What was actually shocking and heartbreaking was how many white folks were reacting – their pain actually angered me to the core. America’s presidential outcome only confirmed exactly what marginalized people have been experiencing forever but now our fellow white friends knew the truth.
Friends, there is no difference between Nov 7th and today. What hurts you now is that privileged, sexism, racism, misogyny, money have not only prevailed but now you have to actually face this nasty beast, each and every day for the next four years. Four years seems super easy versus those that will never escape. Any engagement with Trumps triumphs or hateful actions means white friends need to address their privilege with each and every movement he makes. Your heartbreak puts your ignorance and privilege smack-dab on the middle of your forehead for everyone to see except for you! Racialized, oppressed folks have had to hold space for the dominate culture, time and time again. We have helped you navigate your racism for you to have an understanding of what anti-racism is but yet, somehow it was forgotten that you cannot be anti-racist without acknowledging that racism is real, it exist, and some of us cannot avoid it. Now, we in our privileged North American existence have the truth of how the world actually works and still, somehow we are not realizing that it has always been this way but it has always been this way for some folks, just not all.
But we live in Canada, so we are pretty lucky we do not have to deal with this, right? No. American politics are a mess, absolutely but do not hide behind healthcare, hockey and our red and white flag. Simply stating that you are proud to be Canadian or living here simply proves that those brown bodies that have laid bleeding on our streets don’t matter, that communities without water don’t matter, that children who have taken their life don’t matter, that every women that has braved the justice system in Canada trying to bring justice to her body for being raped don’t matter. This country is no better and you hiding behind our nationalism only reiterate the privilege of the skin that you are in. Just a few weeks ago, thousands of people walked in solidarity to show support for Standing Rock and indigenous rights. Where is the walk and movement for the atrocities taken against those struggling to live right here in our country? It’s a sad realization that until your taps run brown liquid and your comfort is jarred; you continue thinking in such a privileged, elitist way.
Everyone, not just the dominate culture have been given the opportunity to learn, process and discuss not what angers them about the election outcome but why they are in such disbelief. Folks, there was a point where Trump was simply an innocent child who grew to be the poster boy for hatred. As you, now have been shown your privilege answering ‘why’ can create an opportunity of learning, unpacking, and discovery for all of us to create a better understanding of how to actually cultivate a place where we want to live, how to address dominate culture and how to actually navigate privilege. Now more than ever, you need to check your privilege and use it break things down rather than build things up and I urge you to have those difficult uncomfortable conversations with your white friends.