Am I Racist?

Am I Racist?

At, The Story Isn’t Over, we have a foot in two very different communities. We have a clinic in Bolton, a small primarily white, privileged community, and we have a clinic in Brampton, a large city, where differences abound, and where being white may make you one of a minority, rather than a majority. We are all immigrants, whether 1st or 6th generation. We all came to Canada to find peace and plenty. 


We have therapists who are white, brown and black. We have therapists who come from East, West and South. We serve people of all races, cultures and religions. We purposefully set out to be inclusive. 


And yet, I am hesitant to say very much because I, Trish McLean, the founder of The Story Isn’t Over, am white. I have only known what it is to live in a white skin. I have only ever known the privileges that are mine by skin color alone. 


I cannot pretend to know what it is like to be black, or brown or colored. I do not know what it is like to live in fear of the police, to live in fear of being misunderstood, or mistreated, simply because of the color of my skin.


And now, more than ever, we need to stop talking, and listen, listen to the voices of the people who have lived within an inherently racist society for generations.


Many of you, have written, or spoken, to me about your distress, and concerns, at this time. For many any existing feelings of anxiety are escalated, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness abound. For some, there is a confusion about how to respond, what to do and what to say. 


What can we do? 


In sum: be slow to judge, keen to learn, and willing to act.

For details: read on….


What Should You Know About Racism?


The Ontario schools hold a ‘Black History Month’. My daughter asked me, ‘why a black history month, does that mean that every other month of the year is a white history month?’ 


History is never objective. History is always written from a perspective, and public history is almost always written from the perspective of the powerful and privileged. 


History is his-story, it is written primarily by men, and to support the authority of men. History is also written primarily by white men, and women, to support the political, social, and cultural structures that uphold white privilege and power. 


Our kids are taught precious little history or geography, and what they are taught is dominated by the story of our white ancestors coming to Canada. Most of us, and our kids, don’t know that much about other people’s histories, her-stories, or their-stories; we only know our-stories. 


Changing school curriculums is a mighty-hot-potato, but there is nothing stopping us from watching documentaries, reading books, or speaking with our neighbors to understand more about people who might initially appear to be different to us, people who come from different places, speak different languages, and celebrate different holidays. 


We need to educate ourselves, not just to hear and understand the different stories, but also to understand how our stories, have often negatively impacted the stories of those around us. And how our current political, societal and cultural structures continue to oppress, and subjugate minorities in Canada.


Yes, we have a different his-story to our neighbors south of the border, but our own his-story is deeply marred and horribly shameful when it comes to our treatment both of the black community, but also, and most particularly of our treatment of our own Canadian indigenous community.


Key Facts About Race:


Who is Responsible for Racism? Who is Responsible for Fixing the Problem?


My his-story is white, and Christian. In the relatively recent history of White Christian Culture, wrong-doing, or as Christians refer to it, ‘sin’, is something that an individual does. A man, woman or child, is a ‘sinner,’ or has ‘sinned’. 


This contemporary individualistic understanding of wrong-doing, focuses on the individual’s responsibility and accountability for their own actions, whether it is looking with longing and lust on another women, or stealing a bar of chewing gum. The individual is guilty as charged. Individualism itself, is largely a white, construct. 


We have moved so far in the direction of individualism, individual rights, responsibilities and freedoms, and that we have lost touch with what it means to be a member of a community. Of what it means to be responsible for the actions of our community. 


It is time to open our eyes, wake up and smell the proverbial coffee, and recognize, that we are not simply individuals.  It is not enough, to go to bed at night, pleading innocence and ignorance. 


As human-beings we are intrinsically interconnected, within our families, and within our communities, locally, nationally and globally. And as such, we are responsible and accountable for the actions of our communities. 


This is a significant cognitive adjustment for many. For many of us, our automatic default is to individualism, and to thinking of ourselves as separate, unconnected and innocent of what is going on around us. We think that, as long as we drive on the right side of the road, put our Tim Horton’s cup in the bin, and turn out to vote – and perhaps pay our taxes, we’ve done our civic duty, and are innocent of all other supposed systemic ills. 


Unfortunately, this is not the case. We all participate in the society, whether we are ignorant, passive participants, or active, vocal participants, we all participate. And we are all, guilty-as-charged, of the systemic racism, and inherent injustices that plague that society.


What Can We All Do About Racism?


Passivity breeds hopeless and despair. Action inspires hope.


There are many ways that you can take positive action to make a difference. 


Here are a handful small things you can do: 


  • Interrupt offensive jokes or stories and say you don’t want to hear them.
  • Speak up when you witness discrimination against others.
  • Offer support to the victim. Listen carefully and respect confidentiality.
  • Speak up or seek help when you experience discrimination. Recognize that some situations are best addressed publicly and others privately.
  • Become involved and work with others. Anti-racism is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Encourage work and study environments to be places where diversity is valued.
  • Discuss issues of inclusion and diversity with children, youth, and adults.
  • Educate yourself about human rights.
  • Be aware of how your actions might intentionally or unintentionally affect others.
  • Think critically about the language that you use.
  • Be sensitive to other’s feelings.
  • Question the validity of generalized statements.

For more involved or significant action: 

  • Donate to organizations that are actively anti-racist
  • Join peaceful demonstrations
  • Write to your local MP
  • Sign online participations


Everyone will have different emotional responses, to the current unrest. This long email, short blog, isn’t intended to be a one-size-fits-all response to what is happening around us. It is a limited reflection on what is going on and options around how to respond. What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. We are all different. We all have different capacities, for change, for challenge, for action. We all have different band widths, when it comes to time, energy and finance. We inhabit different colored skins, and live in different communities. 


Please take what is helpful, and leave what is not. 


I welcome dialogue, and feedback.


At, The Story Isn’t Over we are intentional about being inclusive, but we don’t always get it right. 


Speak up, get in touch, tell us what we can do differently.


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