My Problem with Privilege

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and perspective only. I am not trying to tell other people what to think and I am not looking for a debate/argument. I’m actually doing pretty bad lately and really don’t want to deal with a giant backlash. I’m not trying to speak badly about anyone and honestly I’m pretty scared of potential backlash but I wanted to publish this to reference. Please, don’t hurt me.

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Life is hard.

Regardless of where you are from, your race/gender/height/weight/ability, or any other factor, I would like to propose that we all have, at some point, had challenges or difficulties to face. I repeat, life is hard.

Relating this to social justice, and anti-oppression work, I think the term privilege is often used to encourage people to be more conscious and reflect upon their attitudes and ideas towards others. …An effort to decrease judgement and create understanding. In practice however, I think the use of the term privilege creates many assumptions and judgements against others. For example…

Jazmin Singer recently published an article describing her experiences as both a (to use her words) fat person and a thin person. In her article she referenced the “privilege” of being thin. I think I could argue equally for the “privilege” of being fat. I am not trying to say being fat is easy, because as mentioned, LIFE IS HARD. But being thin has its own challenges. As a child I was very small for my age and was often bullied for my size. People would call me anorexic, bulimic, and on a few occasions some other girls took me to the bathroom and tried to force me to throw up. Some people might not agree with me. Perhaps my struggle and pain as a thin person is not great enough to validate pointing out the privilege of other sizes. But I’d like to propose, it is not a contest of who is worse off. We all have the ability to suffer, to feel pain (physical or emotional) and hardship in some capacity. What might be a step to one person is a mountain to someone else. Some people might have more challenges to overcome than others. That doesn’t make any struggle less of a struggle.

In another case I read an article that said, “White people aren’t told that the colour of their skin is a problem very often.” – for me, this was not the case. Growing up in a mixed Canadian community I was part of a white minority in a primarily South Asian population. I was bullied at school, there were certain expectations of how I would act because of my race, I was often excluded from social events and was definably not a part of what my classmates called “brown pride”.

I am not ashamed to have lived as a thin, white, middle-class female from North America. Believe it or not, life has been hard for me too. I get stopped at the border and asked about drugs, I get physically searched down almost every time I get on a plane. There have been times when food was not available to me and the prospect of homelessness loomed. LIFE IS HARD.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for oppression. I think it is wrong to discriminate against others based on any number of factors including but not limited to their: gender, race, size, ability, appearance, religion, or species. But I think often in activist work to stop this discrimination, other people, perceived to be more “normal” or better off  or “privileged” are denied the benefit of the doubt.

Perfect Stranger

Skytrain

Today a boy I met on the skytrain. We had a little skytrain romance. Before we parted he told me my boyfriend was very lucky because I am beautiful. 

So I see you

and i’m not sure if you caught my eye

or I caught yours

but we keep meeting briefly

in the middle

and I have this urge to know why

to understand

to explain

but I don’t want to ask

I don’t want to break the perfect forcefield of dilated perfection between us

so I sit

and I make up stories that I know you

or you recognize me

or you love me

and then the more I think about it

the more familiar you look

and suddenly we aren’t perfect strangers anymore

we’re just perfect

reunited

or united

I can’t tell anymore

because the past and your unfamiliar face

has become a fantasy

today

was a beautiful day

your face

i love the way

was a beautiful day

a lovely perfect wonderful

beautiful day

I talked about writing this, and this PostSecret I saw about how sometimes people stare at people on the train because they are beautiful, and the wondering…. and I forgot to tell him he was beautiful. And inspiring. And polite. Oops.

Also, he did not mention that I am the lucky one : )

We Day! And a song!

Today I was part of the Vancouver We Day Crowd Pumping Team! Wow! I felt happy, sad, moved, inspired, uncomfortable, energized, tired, confused, clear, hungry, full, disappointed, overwhelmed, amazed… and more! What a day! I spent 11.5 hours at the arena (arriving at 6AM today) and still went to improv practice after! Bam!

I have been writing SO MANY songs lately (like 5-7 a week!) and I have decided I need to start sharing some of them and putting the music down so I don’t forget the vision I have in mind when I write. I really wanna be in a band but I don’t have time at the moment so I have to plunk my own guitar haha.

I have more thoughts I want to share later but for now I was inspired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Demi Lovato’s messages (at We Day Today) to write this song:

For My Children – Lyrics

VERSE ONE

When I think about what I need

I got clean water and a place to sleep

I’ve friends and community

but there’s something missing

separation that I see people hating and being mean

I want respect for everybody

PRE-CHORUS

That’s the world I want to live in

A world that I want for my children

CHORUS

When you’re scared, turn to love

When you’re alone, remember love

We can change the world with love

Before you judge, remember love

Show somebody that you care

Speak up for those who are not there

Treat each-other with respect

and believe in what comes next:

it’s love, it’s love, love

VERSE TWO

It is easy just to blame

Other people for our pain

If they’d only change their ways

“The world would be much better”

We all have a role to play

You contribute everyday

We have to work together

PRE-CHORUS

That’s the world I want to live in

A world that I want for my children

CHORUS

When you’re scared, turn to love

When you’re alone, remember love

We can change the world with love

Before you judge, remember love

Show somebody that you care

Speak up for those who are not there

Treat each-other with respect

and believe in what comes next:

it’s love, it’s love, love

BRIDGE

Structures are in place that make it hard to see beyond the struggle

Hating only add more hate. I think that love’s the only way to move beyond… and make the world incredible.

CHORUS

When you’re scared, turn to love

When you’re alone, remember love

We can change the world with love

Before you judge, remember love

Show somebody that you care

Speak up for those who are not there

Treat each-other with respect

and believe in what comes next:

it’s love, it’s love, love

Join me in taking on the Welfare Food Challenge next week!

Raise the Rates has launched a new challenge, the Welfare Food Challenge. The challenge is to live for a week on the food that a single, able-bodied person on welfare would have – spending only $26. Sign up to take the Challenge below!

Of the $610 a month the BC government provides for a person on welfare, after paying for accommodation, bus tickets and cellphone (necessary to look for work), and basic hygiene only $109 remains for food – less than $26 for a week. There is nothing for clothes, haircuts, or any social life.

The challenge will start on October 16, World Food Day, and will finish on October 23. The week includes World Poverty Day on October 17th.

via Welfare Food Challenge

I am going to document what I eat each day, how much I end up spending, how I feel and anything else that comes up! I am staring mine a but late, likely on the 19th or 20th because I am volunteering at Vancouver We Day and will be up from 6AM to midnight for three or four days in a row so I won’t have time to plan my challenge until after the event.

I am going to try and do it low fat raw vegan style (fruit based) but am looking into the cost of organics vs conventional etc.

 

Food Stamps

Interested?

Check out their website:

http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/

Facebook Event:

http://www.facebook.com/events/394656377273971

Dreamtime!

For a long time I gave up on the things I really wanted and settled for mediocre dreams. Forget that (Cee Lo Green style). People told me I wasn’t good enough, and that I’d never make it, and that can’t do it. Too short, too fat, not a US citizen, pitchy, talk too fast, not connected enough… But I am done with that.

Truthfully I have been on this kick since I saw the “Katy Perry: Part of Me” movie with my Mom this summer. I only get one life, why am I wasting it chasing my boring “attainable” dreams? It’s time to go big or go home, and if home is where the heart is then big I must go. During my later years of high school and the start of my university career I really settled into a frame of mind which let go of all my big aspirations, the dreams that are so exciting and so improbable that I’m scared… But that is the place where living truly happens for me.

But what will I do? What are my dreams? They have been quietly growing inside me for the past few years… Slipping out in the odd twitter post, inspiration, impulse to take an acting class at SFU, trips, meeting new people, the desire to audition… Professional role model, public speaker, leader… All guises for what I have really wanted since I was little…

I want to be a star. but not just any star, I want to be an entertainer, a famous entertainer. And I want to use my powers for good. I way to show the world my compassionate vegan self am bring more love into this Earth ball.
I think “entertainer” is a good word to describe what I want to do. I really have so many interests in so many things that it’s hard to choose… Comedy, music, acting, speaking… But there are people who get to do it all, and I want in!

Things I want to do:
Be on SNL (hosting or as a cast member)
Perform for a stadium arena
Write a book
Release an album (music or comedy or both)
Be in a movie
Host an awards show

I just have this feeling inside that this is what I was born to do. I am scared it will be hard, but self: you are special, you are unique, you are worthy… And you can do anything with enough perseverance and faith. If its not here yet, It’s just around the corner.

Psalm 30: the love edition

Inspired by Truly Tanisha : )

god is love

Psalm 30

1 I will exalt you, love
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
I called to love for help,
and love healed me.
3 Love brought me up from the realm of the dead;
and spared me from going down to the pit.

4 Sing the praises of love, faithful people;
praise love.
5 For anger lasts only a moment,
but love’s favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 When love favored me,
love made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when love hid it’s face,
I was dismayed.

8 To Love I called;
to Love I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Love, and be merciful to me;
Love, be my help.”

11 Love turned my wailing into dancing;
Love removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing love’s praises and not be silent.
Love, I will praise you forever.

Post Secret LIVE

CIRCA FALL 2010

Wow it’s been a while. I’ve had so much going on in my life lately and i’m so grateful to have all of this activity accessible to me!

One special experience I should blog about was my attendance at the UBC PostSecret Event. I got to see Frank Warren, the founder of post secret speak. It was pretty cool because I had actually looked into having him come speak at SFU but after looking at the cost involved decided it wasn’t feasible. We ended up with front row seats, which believe me were RIGHT in the front. I had to look up at the stage! Awesome.

The first thing Frank asked was if anyone had sent in a post secret. I proudly raised my hand and he asked me to share how it felt “awesome”. For that he gifted me a copy of the latest Post Secret book (and the only one missing from my collection) Confessions on Life, Death, and God. Yayyy! He shared some of the secret secrets with us and told a few stories. Time went so fast, I didn’t want it to end! Before he opened the mic to allow people to share their secrets he turned to me once again. These was a secret message written inside the front cover of my book that he asked me to stand up and share with the theatre.

The world needs to hear your voice.

After the presentation Frank was there to sign books and meet people. He told me that he gives out a book at every event and it usually has some special meaning or importance in the person’s life. At the time it filled my desire to contribute to the presentation (not having a secret to share at the mic but instead getting to share my special message with the room), but I must since since him mentioning that it’s become a bit of self fulfilling prophecy. It’s been lingering in the back of my mind and forcing me to speak up.

Afterward we went to eat at one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants, The Naam! Highly recommended, I love the bohemian vibe : )

Telling our secrets to Frank : )

Telling our secrets to Frank, the most trusted stranger (in the world?) : )

Raise you voice,speak up. The world need you hear you : )

XOXO

Jenni