I sent a link to my best friend to read after I had read through it the other day that was a collection of tweets that were “One indigenous woman’s take on the #womensmarch in Washington, in a sea full of white women.” Unfortunately she has protected her tweets so I am unable to use them as examples in this post but I wanted to give credit to @sydnerian for sparking my discomfort in my white privilege and inspiring me to open dialogue with my best friend that made me fired up to write this blog.
I have always known my privilege being a light-skinned, light eyed, light hair white woman of average height and weight. My skin isn’t terrible, I don’t really have anything that would be considered “abnormalities” by society, I even was blessed with a big booty and I’m Canadian. Outside looking in I’m about as white privileged as it gets and I have had some struggles in my life but they are basically nothing compared to the things women in this world have to face every second.
Women talk about sisterhood and about supporting each other and empathy and empowerment and we all want to believe that we are treated as equals and as women we can all somehow relate to one another; that is bullshit.
After reading tweets about how white women were treating these incredible native women during their prayer circles and commenting on their “costumes” I was ashamed to be considered part of that group of women. I like to believe that I am an inclusive and loving woman that happens to be white but I also realize that my white privilege lets me think that without doing the work to make it so. I am not changing the world, I am not standing up in ways that I should, I am not using my voice like I should be and that is a new reality check for me. The embarrassment of what fellow white women were responsible for, the embarrassment that the reason Trump was voted in was so much about privileged white women and being grouped with these women blindly woke me the hell up.
It was uncomfortable to read women of colour criticizing ALL white women. In the back of my mind feeling like hey, we aren’t all like that! That moment was my wake up call. I didn’t get it before, not even a little. I was being discriminated against based only on my skin colour by people who know nothing about me, huh? As a white woman I am put on a pedestal and blindly trusted in society. I am never looked at suspiciously in public, I can walk into a doctor’s office and discuss my health without judgement, I can interact with police without fear, I will most likely never be thrown off a flight and I will never know what it’s like to be called a slur that is so hurtful with the sole purpose of pain in my life. If I was a woman of colour I would resent me too man.
So what I got picked later for sports because I’m a girl? I will never know the fear of being sold as a child bride, I will never know the pain of family exile for dating someone a different race or religion than me. I am in a bubble and I want to bust the hell out of it. I may be incredibly privileged but I am not going to be silent about all the things I still have to struggle with as a woman, but that is for a later day.
As a white woman you know what people assume about me? That I like pumpkin spice lattes and UGGs. Not that I could have a weapon, not that I am a terrorist and not that I am somehow less of a human being because of the colour of my skin. If you are a white woman who doesn’t consider herself to be living the high life just because you’re white, you’re kidding yourself.
This is the closest I can be to “getting it” and that says basically nothing. Being blanketed in with all these over privileged asshole white women makes me angry and it makes me feel judged and in my moment of realization all I could think of is the shame I feel for being so blind. So I feel slightly uncomfortable being grouped with an entire race of women who make me as an individual look ignorant and selfish? poor me. (eye roll)
I don’t like the concept of being discriminated against because of my skin colour especially at something that is meant to empower women and fight for the rights we all equally deserve no matter what our sexuality, skin colour or lifestyle is. And you know what? That makes me an asshole. This is the first time I feel like I get it, in the smallest way possible I can only relate a minuscule amount to other women but my eyes are a bit more open. I want so much good for the women of the world, honestly, we have too much to fight for to be fighting each other. I can’t pretend that I understand people who have truly struggled, I can’t relate to anyone who is currently struggling and being discriminated against because chances are our entire lives struggle means something different in a drastic way.
We can see people we love be judged because of a million different factors but as white women we will never relate. We can try to empathize but we need to learn that we will never truly know how it feels down to our core to believe that the world is a worse place because of the colour of skin.
I was cast aside once, because of religion, by someone who didn’t take the time to ask me questions about my beliefs and just assumed I was a negative life influence because I didn’t specifically identify as something. I was hurt to be judged blindly and so harshly without reason. I have since moved on and this situation no longer affects my sense of self-worth, because it doesn’t happen daily. This is my white privilege showing. I don’t know exile or judgement or pain because of these things and I need to work on me because of this.
I am ashamed to be so detached from people who aren’t white and all they go through. It’s embarrassing how long it has taken me to think REALLY in-depth what it means to be white and middle class. Also recently I think a lot of Canadians have a growing appreciation of our rights versus all that Americans are fearing in this moment, I know having control over my own uterus has never felt so valuable.
I don’t want to consistently talk about my ever-changing view and comfort level BUT with that being said, I want to change. I want to support women of colour, gay women, the trans community, native women, anyone who is oppressed who needs support, I want to offer mine. I am getting out of my comfort zone, I am trying to be a better version of myself and to anyone I have ever somehow snubbed with white privilege I am genuinely sorry for having my blinders on.