Why I fight racism and islamaphobia.

I know there is no escaping the fact that I am irretrievably white. That's never going to change. I am privileged as a White, educated, very-well-paid woman from a prosperous nation in the Western World. I could ignore all issues of inequity, except maybe sexism, and live my life without much of a social care.

That's what my son is facing, already, at three years old.

That's what my son is facing, already, at three years old.

And yet.

I can't do that. My son is Asian. He will always be Asian. Sure, he is growing up in my privileged household, but it does not change the fact that he will never be White. As he grows up, he will face racism. Everyday. He'll be expected to be good at math and science. He'll be called a "banana". He'll be called worse. Regardless of how well he does in school, he stands a greater chance of being unemployed simply because of his skin colour and the shape of his eyes. And that's the best case scenario. If he should happen to drop out of school (please don't!), society will expect him to join a gang.

It is my responsibility as a citizen and as his mother to fight all the instances of inquity that might affect him directly or indirectly. Which means fighting in solidarity with all the persons of colour everywhere. This means fighting systemic racism, overt racism, as well as insidious racism ("He's a nice boy too") or seemingly positive racism ("Oh, that's great! He'll be good at math!"). I must fight in his name, actively, with intent, and daily.

Acadians have some really interesting cultural quirks, one of which is the traditional role of mothers. Yes, they stay at home, but they are the boss at home; the men do not take part in the administration of the home, they defer.* Acadians also insist that mothers are more than simply the ones that make food and keep house. Mothers protect their children. Fathers provide, mothers protect. I was taught this on my grand-mother's knee, by the examples of my aunts and my mother. I was told the stories of Acadian mothers during the Deportation fleeing in the woods with the kids and taking the gun. Of those Acadians mothers who protected their households, with guns or pitchforks, when the English troupes tried to evict them and deport them. I saw spectacular acts of protection done by my mother and aunts as well. My cousin's husband is mistreating her? The aunts descend upon her house to move her out, and the husband better not try to intervene, because you do not want an aunt going after you. 

It is my duty as a mother to protect my son. Yes, I have to keep him physically safe and well-nourished. But those physical needs are not at issue because of the economic privilege we enjoy. The true threat to my son is racism, regardless of the form it takes, even when it is not directed at him.

I will fight it. I will do so until he tells me not to. If he ever tells me to stop. Unfortunately, I doubt he ever will because this fight will probably survive me.

* My husband once said to a friend that he was of the wrong gender to change the temperature on the thermostat in my mother's house. And yes, it's my mother's house, not my parents' house.

Edited 17/01/2014 for typos and clarity.


Je suis (presque) guérie

This course is going to be great. Because I want to.

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