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.

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SOCIAL justice

Sustainability is very important to me but I wonder if it comes at a cost.

I listened to this awesome lecture by Charlotte Gerson, the healthy 88 year old with no doctor and no problems, thanks to her vegan diet. I totally agree with everything she talked about but it really made me wonder about a few things. Really, the only thing that goes against my beliefs are social outings. By that I mean, generally, I don’t eat out, except when with friends. I don’t use disposable cutlery/cups except at parties. I don’t go to malls, except with people. In her lecture, Charlotte says she NEVER goes out to restaurants. She NEVER does anything harmful to her body (putting bad processed substances in) and I can’t help but wonder if it is becasue she is old and doesn’t have to follow social conduct as much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with people, I just wonder if we could all be happy and healthy together without harming the planet. Can we fight for social justice and be sociable?

Date a Girl Who Cares

So this was inspired by a piece that my friend Trisha wrote called “date a girl who writes” which was inspired by this post titled “date a girl who reads,” which was inspired by this post called “You Should Date An Illiterate Girl”. Yes. Hahaha! Happy Valentines Day!

Kindness

DATE A GIRL WHO CARES by Jenni Rempel

Date a girl who cares. Date a girl who spends her money on helping others instead of clothes. She has problems with time because she volunteers her life. Date a girl who has a list of solutions to the so-called “problems” our world faces. A girl who pines for a better future and thinks before she acts.

Find a girl who cares. You’ll know that she does because she will always have a smile on her face and a genuine interest in others. She’s the one lovingly looking over at strangers on the bus, the one who quietly commits random acts of kindness. You see the weird chick making eye contact with others to break these barriers people often put up? That’s one. They can never resist being polite to others and using “please” and “thank you”. You might also catch her recycling, digging through trash in search of lost bottles and cans, or picking up her three pieces of trash.

She’s the girl appreciating all she has while waiting in that coffee shop down the street with her re-usable mug. If you take a peek at her mug, the vegan creamer is floating on top. Sit down. She might be surprised. Ask her why she cares.

Buy her another cup of fair-trade coffee.

Let her know what you really think of war. See if she you have the same definitions of love and indifference. Understand that if she says everything is perfect, she says that with faith and an unwavering sense of shameless idealism. Ask her where she would love to travel to.

It’s easy to date a girl who cares. Donate your time and money to her favorite organization, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of love and listening each day. Give her hope and words of inspiration from Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Know that you do not need to give her anything for her to appreciate you and be happy. Let her know that you understand that actions are love, and that you choose love. Understand that she knows the difference between dreams and reality but by god, she’s going to live her dreams. It will never be your fault if she fails.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Be honest with her. She will understand and accept the validity of anything you might say. She will not judge you. If she does, she will apologize. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who cares knows that failure always leads up to success. Because girls who care understand that all things are opportunities for learning. That you can always try again. That everything you do is perfect. That life is meant to have these lessons.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who care understand that people grow, and that people are infinite in their potential.

If you find a girl who cares, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM watching a documentary and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if she is part of whichever truth brings her sadness, because she is.

You will propose on a volunteer trip. Or at a protest. Or very casually next time you’re at the local farmer’s market.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids who eat healthy and have incredibly strong values. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite “her wishes for the world” under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who cares because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most purposeful life imaginable. If you want the world and the beautiful future beyond it, date a girl who cares. Because she’ll love you. Because she cares.

#IC25 silence sleeps tonight

#IC25 #invisiblechildren

Right now, I am being silent for Invisible Children’s campaign 25. One hour of silence for each of the 25 years of war Central Africa has endured. We can stop this.

As a fairly theatrical person I have observed that I use my body so much more when I cannot use my voice. My gestures, my grunts and laughter, they are all amplified. Silence amps up our other tools for communication. I am grateful for my body and my literacy right now. They are both helping me communicate. I am sad that not everyone has this luxury. That is why I am doing this I suppose.

I am also enjoying listening. Absorbing information from other people and relishing in these moments of thoughtful reflection I am privy to.

One world. One peace.

We are the change. See you in the morning world.

Meeting Craig Kielburger

On Thursday I had the distinct pleasure of attending a business event where I got to meet Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free the Children.

I have met some people that are really obsessed with Craig and despite how amazing he is, I am blessed to have stayed out of the “fangirl” zone. However, I was captivated by his interpersonal skills. Each time I have encountered him (mainly at We Day) I am captivated by his ability to connect with people and inspire them. Things like a smile, eye contact, a firm handshake (with elbow touching?), and using someone’s name really go a long way.

Hearing him speak really brought up many emotions for me. I was go grateful to have a reminder to BE THE CHANGE. Whenever I am motivated by someone I feel this funny feeling inside. I noticed it especially when watching inspirational videos. It is like someone has tied a string around my heart and is connecting it with the hearts of others. I kid you not, this is a very physical, embodied experience. I was almost in tears. I think that’s why I love film so much, you have the power to really affect people.

The event I attended was centered around Haiti and it was really interesting to reflect back on what happened a year ago. Had I forgotten? Do we ever really forget?

I’ll end with this. What motivates you? And what are you doing to make the world better? Think about that. Everyday.

PS: I wore my vegan Doc Martins. Yeah.

25 HRS of Silence for 25 YRS of Conflict!

 

Wanna shut me up? Pledge me! I’ll be silent for 25 hours on APRIL 25th! I’ll also be accepting donations in person. Awesome, totally transparent cause!

All proceeds go to find the Invisible Children Protection Plan. BE THE CHANGE. Join me in going silent!

GO HERE!

Sounds like a Revolution

GO. SEE. THIS. MOVIE!

I was very blessed to be able to see it on Thursday at the premiere of the Amnesty International Film Festival. The film by Summer Love (awesome name eh?) was really inspiring and just what I needed to see. I hadn’t really listened to Anti-Flag or NOFX before but I am now inclined to start. Lately I have been really trying to find the envelope pushers, those that care about the world and want to make a difference… maybe I need to go to more concerts? haha.

The movie explored social activism through music and they ways in which music is controlled and distributed today. Michael Franti was featured. That dude is so awesome.

Music has a way of reaching people. I was at school working late one night and a dude started playing guitar in the corner, it was so soothing. With music we can really reach people. I think we all have a song. And it is so crucial that we sing.

If you get a chance to check out the rest of the AIF Festival in Vancouver or to see Sounds like a Revolution… do it!

OH! And this song has been stuck in my head ever since I watched the movie. SO good!

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