To begin I am of European Descent and live in Canada and yet am about to comment on racism in the United States. Take this for what you will.
As I write this we are into day 6 of mass protests across the United States. It seems everything has gone sideways with people being arrested, injured, and even killed. Some will say this is in response to the killing of a black man by police, or another killing of a black man by police. To be the most accurate this is the result of centuries of institutional racism dating back to well before even the slave trade. This is the result of people not being treated equally in all aspects of their lives because of the colour of their skin so I will tell you two differing perspectives here.
First though I was born and mostly raised in Canada I did spend about 5 years outside of the country living in Barbados as a child. Family had a business there and we would spend some of the year there and some here. I grew up around black people and went to school with black people and never felt any fear. That is mostly looking back because I’m white and spent much of my time in white areas, you see where this leads. Even in a country that was majority black me being white still gave me as a child an innate power to not have to fear anything because I was white. But black people still had a fear of how the system would effect them, again in their country with the majority looking like them. Even now that I am older I can say the worst aspect of being white is that some people may assume I am racist, or “Play the race card” which does happen but not really all that often. I really deep down do not care about someones ethnic background. That said we have a built in mechanism for identifying patterns and sometimes I may catch myself making an assumption based on race which is not the main problem as we again identify patterns. The problem is when we don’t immediately go “Wait a minute, that’s wrong”. And most white people can relate to racism in the way of that previously mentioned race card, we expect for an assumption to be made that we are racist. This of course is racism but what impact does it really have on us? Very little, this is unlikely to have a severe negative impact on our lives and almost never institutionally.
The next perspective is of someone who is not cis. I come from the ultimate position, university educated, parents university educated, upper middle class family, white, male (Very male), and all the other bonus marks one can get pretty much. And yet there is one issue, while I’m male I am not only a man, I am also a woman. I don’t adhere to societies expectations and I did not choose to be this way, I just am. I am faced with discrimination and potential hatred for no other reason than not being cis. I can expect many similar issues as those of colour because of me being me. I feel apprehension going for a walk or into a store for being who I am. Now my apprehension to this point has been unfounded but that’s not to say it won’t always be. The main difference here is that with a switch of wardrobe I can fit societies expectations and be just fine. People of colour can’t do that.
Which brings me to What the fuck is going on? Reporters and journalists are being arrested and shot at and they have the power to broadcast everything live to national audiences so one can only imagine what is happening to those who aren’t in that position. The Battle of Seattle in 1999 for the WTO summit was just as the internet was getting going and was the first time that the protesters could bypass media and get information directly out without a filter and it made a huge difference. 21 years hence social media is still making a difference and yet we see 6 days of tear gas and pepper spray used on peaceful protesters. While I am sure there are incidents where the use of force has been justified for looters there is an awful lot of force being used on people marching or gathering. This a month after we saw people with military grade weapons loosing it at capital buildings and no riot gear was out, and they were mad about hair cuts. Armed militias were storming government buildings and the President suggested giving a little. People are marching without weapons and he is threatening military action. The police have at least 6 days of pepper spray and tear gas to use very liberally and yet not enough masks and ventilators.
Look, United States it’s time for you to recognise the fact that you are very broken. It’s not like Canada is free of racism and all these other issues but we have worked to recognise that and work towards fixing it. This is not a one day, week, year, or even decade process but it is worth it. These issues are not new and predate the beginning of your country and have always been there. Not dealing with it was part racism and the other part not wanting to admit that something was very wrong. As a Canadian I am in a different position from most of the world as I can meet and talk with you individually. I know that the majority of you are well meaning, kind, and caring people. I also know as a country you’re kind of a pain in the ass as a neighbour and can be a bit of a shit head who believes their own bullshit. You need to do the same thing we all need to continuously do, recognise that you aren’t perfect and you need to work on yourself. It’s ok to not be ok and to have issues. We are all pulling for you and wish you the best but right now I see a neighbour ripping itself apart and heading towards a collapse and I am worried about you.
Stay safe everyone, and care for your fellow humans regardless of who they are or where they are from. Well aside from Nazi’s, I mean fuck Nazi’s. Oh and TERFs they can also fuck right off.