Eight~ “I worked my a** off, no hand-outs taken”

Todays topic and discussion guided around the idea of white supremacy really hit me in the feels. By hitting me in the feels, I am not referring to sadness either. I felt a lot of anger during this discussion, especially when we broke off into groups to discuss our articles. My groups’ article was based on Saskatoon’s ‘I am the Bridge’ project that stirred up ample controversy.

  Maclean’s Article

A white Saskatoon resident speaks out to the campaign stating,

 “I am a white, heterosexual, able-bodied male: the most privileged demographic in human history. If I’m going to be the bridge to ending racism in Saskatoon or anywhere else, I have to acknowledge my own privilege and I have to acknowledge my own racist attitudes, and work through my discomfort.”

The billboard shows only part of his quotation on circle drive… and the crowd goes WILD!

This man speaks a whole lot of truth and he has it all right. The truth behind his words is what has gotten everyone so shaken up about. The white and fragile public of Saskatoon are only mad because it is true. It is the easier route to take offence to bold claims and lash out than to actually face the truth and deal with the issue. I believe that the controversy that has been driven up from this campaign is actually the proof that it is working and being noticed. If they keep going with their efforts regardless of the push back, maybe people would stop overreacting and start actually thinking. To react is everyones innate response and with time, they will be able to look deeper and think about it.

There was one comment made regarding the campaign that really hit home to me:

“I have not had one hand out due to being white I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am. All of my friends and family have worked their ass off to get where they are.”

I have heard this statement and so many others alike that it just stirs up so much anger in me. How can someone be so naive and so blind to the ‘handouts’ that he/she has recieved in his/her lifetime. He got that job due to the colour of his skin. He got that loan for his house and car so easily due to the colour of his skin. He graduated high school due to the colour of his skin. All cards were stacked in his favor due to the colour of his skin. AND, instead of being grateful and appreciative for the colour of his skin… he chooses to be defensive and fragile.

term coined by Robin DiAngelo, who describes the phenomenon as the following.

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same timelowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.

No one is saying that white people don’t work hard. No one is saying that they deserve it all taken away from them. What people are saying is that the odds were in your favour over someone else’s and that you have ‘invisible’ handouts that you should be at the least grateful and humble about.

Stop being so defensive. Stop getting so angry. This campaign and others’ alike are not created to make you feel guilty about being white. They are not set out to say that being white is bad. They are set out to raise awareness that all is not fair in the world, so let’s try to make it better and be grateful for any forwards progress that we make. Let’s just even the playing field a bit.