08 September 2009

Check your privilege at the door

Elsespace, I was reading a post by a woman who is frustrated with the extra funding, support and programs provided to aboriginal children in her community. I know this woman fairly well, know about her kids and her family life. Things haven't been all that easy for her, but she has had the advantage of being white and pretty.

The question she was asking, and without an agenda (near as I can tell) is do you support a kid who wants to start a White Kids club? In her child's school, there is a club for Asians (read: SE Asian), Indians, Aboriginal kids, but (of course) none for white kids. The general consensus was NO! The kids, though, are frustrated, because they see all these programs for Other kids, including lots of freebies. I can understand how the kids feel, but they're missing that these programs, handouts and extra support are only there to help give them the same advantages that the white kids get.

One of the replies to her post really got me frothing, but I couldn't quite figure out why right away. I think I have it now. What he was saying was that he, a white man, is a minority in the lower mainland of BC. He was complaining that he can't read store signs, that "everybody" speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, and lots speak Punjabi. Okay... So lemme get this straight, a group of immigrants comes in to the area you live in (and by that I mean, the entire country that you claim for all of whitedom) and puts up signs in their language, doesn't adopt your culture, but brings their own. They exclude you with their language, their schools, their churches, and you feel like this isn't fair. Okay. I'll give you that because I'm feeling extra generous. But then HOW THE FUCK DARE you complain when the aboriginal people have a similar complaint? Especially when the Chinese people you're complaining about didn't come in, displace you, kidnap and beat your kids and thoroughly destroy massive swaths of your culture!

For crying out loud, with what white culture did to native culture here in Canada, giving them a few breaks, benefits and programs is the LEAST we can do. And so help me God, the complaining that they "don't do anything with it" just isn't going to fly with me. Perhaps that says something about how systemic the problem is, how you can't just make decades of repression disappear by throwing a few bucks at it. Yeah, every person has a personal responsibility, but damn it to hell, so does society.

And if you don't like that they don't speak your language in Richmond, learn Mandarin!