Wild Mystic Woman has posted a series of writing prompts on her Instagram for white people looking to unpack their relationship to white supremacy. I am beginning the 28 day journey today, although the work began 17 days ago. I will be sharing my daily reflections here to keep myself accountable to this important work.
Day One: Me & White Privilege
I am a white settler Canadian in the bible belt of Western Canada. My mother unschooled me K through 12 in a community of mainly white peers. White privilege allowed me to study at home when the Canadian Government still regularly takes indigenous children from their families to be put into foster care. My white privilege allowed me to walk around unsupervised as a young person without being seen as a thug or a criminal. I learnt to expect that authority would be just, and that if I kept my nose clean (or appeared to) that law enforcement would protect me. Because of my white privilege I never felt like I didn’t belong. I learnt that my ideas were valuable, that people would listen to me, and that if I kept within the limits of modest femininity I would be compensated for my contributions adequately. I used my white privilege to appear more educated, competent, and trustworthy than I may have actually been. As a young person entering university I remember reading an article about professional conduct condemning black women’s natural hair and felt relieved that this would never concern me. My white privilege allowed me to secure work that I was unqualified for on paper. I used my white privilege to secure work at trendy establishments as a young unskilled labourer rather than in a field or a factory or a fast food chain. As a white artist I never felt like my work had to be a voice “for my people” or that it would be seen as political or controversial because of the colour of my skin. I acted with all white students at university, and then dropped out because I did not think I would need an education to find work in my field as a conventional white woman. I used my white privilege to avoid questioning why this was even after I self identified as a feminist in my 20s. I use my white privilege to access mentors, funding, and other resources that are held by other white gate keepers. When I became aware of the problematic nature of this instead of changing the way I worked I started hiring more WOC collaborators to keep my work from being criticized under the moniker of “inclusion” and “diversity”. My grandparents farmed and extracted oil from stolen lands, and vote for openly racist politicians. Despite talking back to their racist vitriol as a teenager, I now maintain relationships with them because it privileges me to do so rather than be cut off from my family. I use my white privilege to receive money from them in spite of the harm they cause. I grew up in a liberal household that didnt “see colour” which is a privileged position I held because I was white and most of my friends were white. My parents were fascinated with Eastern Phillosophy, and so I came to appropriate a lot of Buddhist, Taoist, and other yogic and indigenous ideas and practices as my own as suited me. I am still unpacking this history to understand how my continued practice effects harm. My mother encouraged me to identify as a Metis artist because my great grandmother on my father’s father side (whom I never met) was Metis so that I can access money and opportunities intended for Metis & Indigenous artists. My father encouraged me to see myself as a self made artist independent of the many people that helped me get here, and the many doors that were open to me as a white woman. I may not have used my white privilege to explicitly do as they ask, but I have not used it to dispute the underlying beliefs either of them hold. Surrounded by crunchy hippies to creative entrepreneurs to conservative farmers I learnt that with white privilege I could take what I liked and defend my right to do as I please “because it wasn’t harming anyone.” Recently I am trying to unlearn this mode of being to be a better local and global community member, but I also use my white privilege to drag my feet finding alternative ways to support myself because the systems of power benefit me.