This is my privilege - from a Chinese Canadian
Not gonna lie… when #BlackLivesMatter got on my radar a few years ago, I have to ask Google to better understand what it really means, and why saying “All Lives Matter” is missing the point.
This sounds strange coming from an ethnic Chinese, but my experience might be relatable to many white folks who grew up in North America. By sharing my story, I hope it’ll help you to find your safe space to do the work.
I grew up in Hong Kong, a homogeneous society where 92% of the population are ethnic Chinese. My husband, also an ethnic Chinese, was born in Canada. He grew up in Calgary, a mostly white society back in the 70’s and 80’s.
When my husband and I first started dating, I was intrigued by why he got so irritated when people asked him simple questions like “Where are you from?”
The two of us had vastly different experiences when it comes to racial identities and racial issues. In fact, growing up, I didn’t have any racial issues.
You see, unlike my husband, I’ve never got into school yard fights because of my last name. Never been told “Go back to where you came from!”. Never been assumed that my parents own a laundromat or chop suey house.
That’s my privilege. It wan’t my fault. No one hated me for it. It’s something I enjoyed solely because of my identity within the group. It’s an unearned package of benefits.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have to be sensitive to my husband’s background and feelings.
I wasn’t aware of that privilege, let alone understand the ramifications, until I was well into my 30’s, after I lived in a diverse society long enough to know better.
Like you, I have struggles. But my struggles have very little to do with the colour of my skin.
When Justin Trudeau’s brown face photo surfaced last year, my first reaction was “What’s the big deal?”
Fortunately, I have a safe space to do research, ask questions, and think.
Conversations with my husband, my children (who learned so much from school), friends who grew up in Asian, and friends who grew up in Canada. I had to know the history to know that when a culture of power painted a brown face, it’s a poke to wounds that had never truly heal.
What happened to George Floyd, and so many others, is not okay.
This is the time for us to do the work.
Take time to look internally to recognize our privilege. See how we interact with our privilege. Then see how we can equalize the playing field in small but significant ways.
Between making soap and making dinner, I’m educating myself. Here’s my personal notes and resources in case you find it helpful.
Let’s all work together to make this a better place.
with so much love,
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