Friday Two Cents: Colour Blind


twoCentsOldNew

  This past week I had a lot to think about when I went into the classroom with the children and lectures with my peers. It had to deal with a very sensitive subject that many do not want to deal with or even talk about, racism.

  It started last Friday with a guest speaker who came into our lecture to discuss the subject of racism, or more specifically the idea of “White Privilege”.   I have to be honest with you, when I heard about that idea and read an article about it, I thought that this was another opportunity for someone to bash on me because of my race. I being a white male have felt, on many occasions, that I am at fault for what happened in the past. Quit frankly I am sick of it and did not want to sit through another lecture while someone blame me for something I never did. But I told myself to keep and open mind and listen to what the person has to say in the lecture. So I listened and was surprised to find that it was not a bashing session but and open dialogue on the subject.  

  The most interesting part was when I volunteered to be part of a demonstration. The exercise involved eight people of different race and gender. We all began at the doorway all lined up equally. The guest speaker then began asking questions and if it apply to us, we where to take a step forward or backwards depending on what the question would indicate. After the first few questions many of us were either out the door or a few steps inside the room. I was one of the few inside the room but as she continued to ask questions, the more the others were stepping back and I was stepping forward.  

  Many of the questions were centred on how you felt or experiences you had, such as “Have you ever felt afraid walking alone at night? Take 2 steps back” “Has any teacher mispronounced your first or last name? Take a Step back.” “Do you bring a lunch to school? Take a Step forward.” But then the questions really started making you think about the simplest things. “Have you ever been told you have to do better because of who you were? Take a step back.” or “Have ever had a teacher of the same race as you? Take a Step Forward.”

  When the exercise concluded I was 10 – 12 steps in the room and everyone was either at the doorway or outside the room and even down the hall. I was the only one inside the room and the African-Canadian woman in the group was in the back. With the questions asked, the discussion question was then asked to the group “Who won?” I was the undisputed winner, the White male. The reasons were not because the questions were biased against Caucasians. They were simple everyday questions that we never think about or pay too much attention to. The reason, we discovered, was that our society’s lens sees Caucasians or Europeans as the norm or standard and that gives them an advantage.

  You see, I never seen myself as being privileged; I have had to work very hard to get what I have and maintain it. Also with affirmative action I have seen people of minorities get jobs and/or positions when Caucasians were passed on because they needed to meet a “quota”. But I can see where others of different ethnic origins could be at a disadvantage.

  This week I really looked at the school I work in and tried to look at them not with the lens that society has painted for us but through a neutral lens, where everyone is equal. I found this approach made it easier to interact with them on a more human level and less as a stereotype.

  I still believe that many Caucasians are not privileged, that’s because I have taken on a belief I have developed. For those of you who do not know me, I am colour blind. I cannot see certain shades of green and therefore they look white, black or grey. I have taken on the same approach to people of different colour. To me people are all the same. We all have two hands, feet, legs and a head. Even their skin colour is the same because I cannot tell the difference. You see, I am colour blind.

They all look the same to me.

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One Response to Friday Two Cents: Colour Blind

  1. cav12 says:

    What a brilliant workshop and an effective demonstration of racism.

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