From Where I Stand: Pain, Trauma, and Oppression from This White Woman's Perspective
My whiteness. My relative place of economic privilege. My safe spot from my perch here in Canada.
Where I live is relatively sheltered. Sheltered from glaring differences. Sheltered from challenging ideas or ways of being. I grew up here, and while there are good people where I am from- good people with good hearts who mean well- I would be lying if I said there isn't also large amounts of ignorance.
When I was eighteen, I moved away to a much larger city to go to post-secondary school. I lived in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), and I was suddenly surrounded by folks of different everything than me. In my program alone, I spent time day in and day out with people far different than the people I had always grown up with.
It. Was. Glorious.
And let me speak honestly to something here: while I certainly learned a lot, I can't say that it changed me or how I think or feel. While I don't believe that it is fully possible to look at someone and not see their backstory (read: apparent differences), I think I have always been someone who has operated on one level or another of interconnectedness.
I've always had the ability to feel into someone rather than just going by outward appearances or seemingly glaring differences.
But while I say all of this, I must also recognize that my stance in this particular lifetime comes from being a Caucasian young woman in a stable household, in a sheltered community.
And so, I understand and have compassion for where that might rile some folks up at this particular time.
"You have no clue what you're talking about."
"You don't understand oppression."
"It's so easy for you to say that it's going to be 'okay.'"
But I cannot- and will not- apologize for my optimism. For my faith. For where I feel called to rally or share.
I cannot- and will not- be silenced, shamed, or guilted. Not where I feel called to ignite hope and remind others that we're connected on a level far deeper than where we came from, the colour of our skin, our religious beliefs, our sexual orientation, or how we identify on any spectrum.
If we are connected more deeply than these surface attributes and parts of ourselves, then my whiteness and place of privilege should not matter. Not in the way of Being Love, anyhow.
Yes, it is easier for me to speak out. You may be right about that. And I won't argue or challenge that reality. But maybe because it is easier for me, is all the more reason to do it.
Maybe I've been given this position of relative safety in this life time, this vantage point, this perspective, this advantage, so that I am in a place to yell loud and clear and refuse to shut up. My safety isn't nearly as threatened as some. My voice is heard in ways that others aren't, simply given who I am in this life. And so perhaps it is my duty, my obligation.
I will never be able to speak to how it is for those living in much more precarious states in this lifetime. I will never pretend to be a competent voice for how that must be. That is not my place or my right. And by speaking up, that is certainly not my aim.
Yes, we have differences. There are extreme struggles that some of us will never face. In those cases, it should be the arms and hearts of the rest of us holding space for those in pain. It should be us standing up with our voices and hearts saying, "This will not do. This way of operating is outdated and has run its course on the planet. No more."
It should be us pointing to the vastly powerful current of connection and power that runs beneath all expressions of difference. The current and connection of Love of which we ALL come from.
This Love, Brothers and Sisters, is what binds us. It is religion-less, gender-less, has no sexual orientation and is every colour on the colour spectrum. People of all positions are in a place to speak to it and from it, reminding others of their inherent connection to it.
Lastly, I feel compelled to say that it's my hope that as we stand for and with each other, we can begin to unwind ourselves from the stories of victim consciousness. These stories are embedded so deeply into the fabric of what we think we are.
I am not suggesting that we not be proud of where we came from. I am not suggesting that we walk from our religious beliefs or the outward shells of how we identify, or that there is anything inherently wrong with these labels.
What I am saying is that, ultimately, they are not who we are. They are not what we go back to when we are done with our bodies here. They're meant to be parts of the path, points of gaining wisdom or pieces of our unique lessons in this life. They're meant to, in some cases, call us to connection and love with others who identify the same as we do. But they're not meant to be a cause for separation.
And so from my privileged perch, from this shell of mine, I yell from the depths of my Heart and Soul:
WE ARE ONE.
From my privileged perch, I acknowledge the potential for my ignorance and it is from this ignorance that I agree to sit quietly and hold space for those willing to teach me or share their perspective.
I challenge you to do the same. I challenge you to be mindful of your biases and ignorances, respect the journey and pain points of another, have compassion, hold space, send Light. But don't hold back your Love. Don't hold back your optimism.
Hold the space for healing, expansion, and learning. Speak where you feel called to from Love, from where ever your particular perch may be. Because that might just be your role in all of this, after all.