Today we experienced an altercation of sorts, but what really set it apart for us, was the area – where we formerly lived, predominantly white middle class-, and the act of apologizing. At what point is an apology necessary, versus it being demeaning, and something we do only because we have been conditioned by society to bow our heads, smile, push our manners and politeness forward.
Even as a little girl, my mother made sure we were well educated and well mannered, and that we were always clean and presentable. I’ve read many stories, and talked to many brown friends who have had the same experience. Our parents raise us this was for a reason, its survival, it’s the only way we can get by in this predominantly white society.
White people have a lot to say on our actions, our cultures (due to their lack there of), our socio-economic standings, and the repercussions of their colonizing history against our people. I don’t care what kind of brown you are, we all share the same history, experiences and stories as a product of this white world we live in.
Maybe its my history in Winnipeg, a city that has been deemed as the most racist in Canada, where the white majority are so ashamed of this title and decry it so much so, this very action completely silences the very experience of brown bodies (indigenous and immigrant alike) who feel racism everyday, throughout their normal routine of life. Case in point, the “whiteout” is not considered racist because of the term itself, or relation to a widespread sporting event.
My feeling, as a person of colour, is that predominantly white bodies, priviledged bodies, are able to occupy this space, the public space of the downtown of a city (who denounces the poverty, crime, and other stereotypes associated with the rampant racism that plagues this city) in a united spirit as their NHL team battles in the playoffs. Hockey is more valued in the White city of Winnipeg, than Indigenous water protectors who tried (and failed) to close Portage and Main, in an effort to fight and raise awareness for environmental rights, at the time of the Idle no More movement.
At the time of Idle no More, I watched participants of this movement, myself included, being thrown out of public spaces, from malls, to the Bell MTS centre, to the downtown city streets. I would argue that the environment is an issue of humanity, not of race. Winnipeggers didn’t see it that way, they only saw brown bodies getting in their way, blocking them from running back to the safety of their suburbs, the sound of the drum terrifying them at every turn.
What we experienced today was not the first time we have been made to feel degraded. It’s degrading having to apologize to white people for what they consider acting out. We can never step out of line, raise our voices, stand up in protest or anything else. It may be the simplest occurence in everyday life, yet still, we always have to hold our head high and be the “bigger person”.
I’m sick of it. I’m sickened by you getting in our faces. Where are your manners? Where is your respect, and all of the other things you demand of us everyday, with every move we make. I’m tired of apologizing. I’m not sorry, and we weren’t wrong. And for every time you think we are “crying racism”, you have no idea what that word even means, because you don’t live it every day. You don’t see it everywhere around you, in your work life, in your social life, in your school life, in your very existence and being.
Must be nice, but just know, I’m done with you.