CCEC

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chit-chat

Jane, white European woman – Thank you for your frank and heartfelt sharing. I speak as a white European woman recovering from familial abuse and entrenched misogyny. I have had to struggle to find new roads on old maps – roads which lead to worthwhile destinations and not pain and self destruction. I am amazed that you are a catholic with the strong misogyny of the male clergy and the euro-centric value system of the present hierarchy. I couldn't deal with the insularity and smug self righteousness of the Christians I met and am no longer a frequenter of any church building. I find a park more holy than any building, but I have had so many miracles that I feel loved by a higher power. I taught children for 25 years but could never decide who was white, coloured or black. They were Carlos or Paul or Catherine.

Victoria, woman African descent – There are two issues I think need addressing. The first is my remaining in the Catholic Church. I, too, left the church at one time because I could not understand the inconsistencies between the teachings and the actions of the teachers. However, as I looked for a spiritual home, I found that the people of God are those who try to do what they feel God is calling them to do. The Spirit blows where S/He wills. The hierarchy of the Church may try to legislate where that is but the Spirit of the Creator is in all of creation, every one, every thing. Therefore, I stay in the Church because (1) that is where the inner-city community that I worship with nourishes my soul; (2) I believe in Jesus Christ and his message; (3) there are a lot of good people in the church as a whole; (4) I can do a lot of good by staying; and, (5) one cannot escape eurocentricity in North America.

The second is in relation to your comment about teaching children. While you may have had the option of not deciding who was "white, coloured or black," the children of colour did not have the same option. Skin colour has definite consequences for those who are not "white" in North American Society. When you deny colour, you deny that person's lived experiences. White people go into stores, no matter whether it is an economy store or one that sells exclusive goods, with no problem. A person of colour goes into the same stores and they are followed, given unwelcoming looks, and made to feel generally uncomfortable. I use this example because it is a mundane, everyday thing – shopping, something one has to do. Imagine the wear and tear on a child's psyche with several of these experiences each week. Then there's school where you learn that your people are "social problems." All positive contributions of your people to society are glaringly absent from the history books. Therefore you never learn that your people have done anything but "burden" society. This is the reality of being "Black, Native American or Hispanic" in Canada and the United States. Thankfully, our peoples are beginning to demand more of a say in education. We are no longer being silenced by the ploy of being called "over-sensitive" because denying our experiences and our pain has been killing us and we wish to heal, to live and to thrive.

Kaaren, Anishinaabe grandmother, – Thank you for this writing. It is really right on. In a book entitled "This Bridge Called my Back," a collection of writings by women of colour, one author says that it is not the duty of the oppressed to educate their oppressors. It amazes me that we people of non-white colour still have to step up to that position if any educating gets done. It will be a great day when white people make these observations publically. It is precisely part of unearned and invisible white privilege that this does not happen. That great day will be here when, as Hugh Vasques says in "The Colour of Fear," white people are "as outraged about racism as I am outraged about racism, as black people are outraged, as Asians are outraged, as Indians are outraged." I will add that, for me, that day will be here when I see or hear white people being outraged just about unearned and invisible privileges.

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