My Thoughts on Racism and #Blacklivesmatter

Untitled design-3Obviously, racism is a widely debated and complex conversation. I am white and I am privileged. I do not encounter racism, ever. I am not discriminated against for the colour of my skin. I am however, a woman, and because of that I am discriminated against and treated differently in certain situations. I am fearful of men in certain situations and I look for ways to protect myself, that men do not have to consider or deal with. In that example, men are privileged. So, I’m going to address some common comments used to “rebuttal” #blacklivesmatter and racism in general and I’m going to come at it from the perspective of woman’s rights. Why? Because hopefully coming at it from a different angle will get through to someone who couldn’t hear it before. I truly believe this is a time for education and learning, not for bullying or attacking. I’m disheartened by people trying to justify or make themselves feel better. I’m also disheartened by people assuming others are “jumping on the bandwagon” or “ignorant” or “racist” because of a comment they made, rather than taking it as an opportunity to teach that person WHY what they said was wrong. Of course, some people really are thick-headed and no amount of teaching with undo their racist values and beliefs. But for those you can teach, try. That is the only way to move forward and see real change. Unfortunately, it takes public murders and riots to make people take notice and it takes people “jumping on the bandwagon” for it to become mainstream and for change to happen.

I was listening to a podcast today about a completely unrelated topic, involving someone trying to teach people about the universe and astrology, etc. and how he believed people weren’t aware of the truth. His beliefs are completely beside the point but what he did say, that I feel applies to the topic at hand (among others) was; “It is easy to accept what you have been taught since childhood and what is wrong. It is difficult when you are an adult to understand that you have been taught wrongly, since you suspected that you were correct.”

  1. ALL LIVES MATTER

I’ve addressed this on my Facebook as well and I’ll share that post here, as I feel it perfectly explains why this statement is problematic. “All lives matter is offensive. Although I’m sure that if you are saying it, you’re not trying to be offensive, you’re trying to be inclusive. I get it. But it’s offensive. All lives are not discriminated against daily. If you’ve never had to think about someone being racist to you, then you are privileged. I am privileged. That is why #blacklivesmatter is important. Just as “me too” has its spotlight, as “gay pride” has its spotlight, let’s take this opportunity to spotlight #blacklivesmatter instead of making it about inclusion because, obviously, it should not be about that.”

To explain this is relation to my above example. If we look at this from woman rights, it would be like if a woman was brutally raped in public and there was public outcry and the hashtag womenslivesmatter was plastered everywhere but then people started referencing men being raped and saying hashtag menslivesmattertoo or alllivesmatter. Yes, it is true and of course all lives matter, no one says they don’t. But it is not the topic at hand and by saying it, you are diminishing the issue at the forefront. I’ll repeat that last part, because I think it is the most important take away “let’s take this opportunity to spotlight #blacklivesmatter instead of making it about inclusion because, obviously, it should not be about that.”

  1. THE RIOTS ARE HURTING THE CAUSE

While destruction of property, businesses and harming of innocent people is obviously horrible and I do not support it. The need to march and riot is crucial to making change. It should also be pointed out that many who are looting, setting fire and destroying properties are not the protestors themselves but people who instigate in order to perpetuate violence and turn the attention away from the issue at hand. This is pretty self-explanatory, I feel, but let’s look at this from the woman’s right view again. This would be like the marches that took place from the suffragists group beginning the 1870’s in Canada to fight for a woman’s right to vote. Marches, rallies, riots, parades; these are all necessary means to fight for rights. We should instead ask why there needs to be riots at all? Why in 2020 people STILL need to fight for their rights and their lives? The outrage at the riots is misdirected in my opinion. Outrage should be at those using the riots to tarnish the message and the need for a riot in the first place.

Going back to the women’s vote example again, let’s now look at how racism impacted that same movement.  White women had the right to vote in the 1921 elections. But those in some minority groups — including Asian and Indigenous women — were excluded from being able to vote in elections across Canada.

Minorities were not given the right to vote until 29 years later, in 1948. And it took until 1960 for Indigenous women to be granted the right to vote in national elections.”

In the U.S. black men were not granted the vote until after the American Civil War in 1870 and black woman were not granted the right to vote until 1965. It took 44 years from when a white woman could vote in Canada, to when a black woman could vote in the U.S. and NEVER did a white male have to fight for his right to vote.

  1. IMMIGRANTS/ P.O.C. ARE COMING IN AND STEALING OUR JOBS

Feel free to alter this statement to fit any racist comment you’ve encountered, because let’s be real, there is A LOT!

Hear me out. Yes, occasionally, a less qualified male person of colour is given a job instead of a white male in order to “meet a quota”. Same is true for a woman being hired to fill another quota. The issue is not the person of colour or woman being hired, it is that the quota had to be instituted in the first place. I hate this because it opens up the possibility of someone being hired (or awarded an Oscar, etc.) to make right an injustice, rather than simply knowing that person was superior; even when it is glaringly obvious that they were a better fit. It allows for questioning and excuses, thereby negating their achievements. In a perfect world, the best person for a job would be hired and no one would question it, regardless of sex or race. Unfortunately, we do not live in that society.

  1. NOT ALL COPS ARE BAD COPS

Obviously. But let’s go back to my women’s right example again. As a woman, I grew up being taught to be aware of my surroundings, to not get myself into certain situations, to watch what I wore, to not look like you are asking for it. This is taught through stories of murderers and sexual violence (Paul Bernardo), school educators (no tank tops or midriffs showing in school), my mother’s warning and other women’s stories and encounters, as well as my own. This is engrained in the fibers of my being, so much so that I do it instinctively. I don’t listen to my headphones while walking in the dark (even early in the evening), I watch my drink while out at the bar, I cross the street if a male is walking towards me at night, I lock my car doors when I get in and there is probably even more I do subconsciously. No, not all men will attack me, but why would I take the risk? Why would I willing put myself in a situation where I could be harmed, just to prove that not all men are rapists?

More importantly, you wouldn’t ask me to. So no, not all cops are bad cops. But when it is engrained in your upbringing, how can you not be afraid?

  1. WHITE PRIVILEGE

Oh my… this is a hotly debated topic. The thing is, no one wants to be told they are privileged. Especially, when you don’t perceive any “privilege” in your life. No one wants to feel put down or accused, our defenses go up. I’ll admit, initially my defenses went up, the term felt offensive. I wasn’t racist, so how could you come at me like that? But guess what? That was my privilege. I touched on this in my first section and on my Facebook posts too. If you never had to think about being discriminated based on the colour of your skin, then you are privileged. Let’s look again at my women’s rights example, just to really send this point home. I travelled alone for four months all through Europe, I was cautious and careful of my surroundings. I made a couple dumb mistakes but thankfully was unharmed. I did not hesitate to go on the trip, but I was nervous, vigilant and aware. My privilege was not also having to look up racism in those countries I visited and not having to be worried my skin colour would further impact my safety or experience. Privilege is not a word to attack you, it is to make you aware. The human ego is a fragile thing, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it time and time again. Stop trying to justify, correct, explain and just listen. You are not a bad person, you didn’t understand and you didn’t know…

But now you do.

#blacklivesmatter

 

*note: I did not include other hashtags during my examples as to not distract from the #blacklivesmatter hashtag and movement.

**note: I tried to be clear and explain without putting anyone down. This is hopefully taken in the way it was intended, as a learning opportunity.

***note: My example of women’s rights could be a number of different issues and is not to say women’s right and #blm are the same thing, of course they are separate topics. It is simply a way for me to further explain why these above #blm statements should be reconsidered and how they are coming across for those that didn’t understand.

*** note: It should go without saying that #blm is not more important than any other race or group. BUT this is their time to have the spotlight and to make a much needed change and we as the human race should support their efforts!

Travelling- Then & Now

Firstly, 2013 was not that long ago; a mere 6 years and yet when referencing travelling internationally and how much data and mobile usage have changed in that time, it might as well be a lifetime!
IMG_4742_editedMy first major experience of travelling internationally was in 2010 and we used hostel computers to send emails back home. The idea of mobile data was still a foreign concept to me, as I still had a basic flip phone and therefore, not having data access was not at all out of the ordinary for me. Flash forward to 2013 and my first iPhone (yes, I waited until the 5 to get onboard from my Blackberry) was practically glued to me at all times. The novelty of a smartphone had just been experienced and I was hooked. This new found freedom to Google wherever and whenever and download app after app to play addictive games to waste hours upon hours was such a new experience for me. Which is what made my 2013 trip that much more difficult to get through without the easy access I was now accustomed to. At the time, Rogers who is my service provider, had 3 package options while travelling. I can’t remember the specifics but each one came with talk and text plans but no data whatsoever. I easily blew through my plans each month I was away (4 in total) and would have to get another and sometimes another still. If you used one plan up, you had to wait until your next billing cycle to get that same plan again, which meant I’d have to get the increasingly less talk and text plans as the month went on. Calling cards worked too but they can be a hassle to purchase and dial in a rush, so out of convenience I’d use my cell phone. My biggest reasons for using the talk and text up was of course due to travelling alone, I’d call my mother or a friend to chat or tell them about some amazing thing I saw that day. But often, I’d also use up my plans to call my mother for help finding a place or a phone number I needed if lost. I had written out loads of directions to my hostels, etc. before leaving and yet, inevitably, I’d end up lost or confused and need help. Asking strangers for directions in a place you can’t speak the language, sometimes very early in the morning or late in the night, is not the best of ideas as a female travelling alone. About halfway through my trip I was introduced to City Maps which is an offline GPS mapping app that allows you to search for addresses or places, gives directions and shows you which direction you are walking. The issue was you had to download the maps while using Wifi so if you forgot (like I did in Bilbao at 11pm) then you were screwed and would have to use your data to download or find a traditional map. I had used maps prior to learning about the app but sometimes the map wouldn’t show enough of the city and would be essentially useless for me to find my hostel. Also, nothing screams #tourist more than a giant map. That evening in Bilbao nothing was even open to find a map, so I opted to download the map and was hit with a $65 charge at home for the 2 mins it took to download. It’s also worrisome until you get your updated usage to know if you’ve properly turned off all the data roaming and mobile data so you would not be accidentally charged. The whole experience was a dance of plans and phone calls and map downloading and timing it all as best as I could and there was much room for error. In total, I spent upwards of $1500 in extra charges and plan fees during that trip and remember I had no data usage except that one charge either.
A while ago Rogers announced a “roam like home” feature which essentially allows you to use your current plan to travel to the US and Europe for an additional charge per day. For the US it is $7 /day and to Europe, it is $12/ day up to a maximum charge of 15 days per billing cycle. After 15 days, you do not pay more and keep using your current plan as normal! That means in comparison my trip to Europe now would result in a bill of only $720 with data usage for 4 months. I only just got to use this new option as I hadn’t been away in some time and so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive that I’d somehow come home to a crazy bill again. I read and re-read the description and small print to verify I didn’t have to turn off anything while travelling or that I’d have a hidden limit. I still nervously checked my account during the first 24 hours for any extra charges but I was completely safe and was able to search, Google, use my phones GPS, hire Lyft rides and call my mom all for a fraction of the price it was in 2013. My mind was blown!
Now, if you do not have a large data or talk plan then you still might need calling cards, maps and Wifi or if you are travelling somewhere not covered by this feature. I also cannot comment on other service providers and their travel options but I was pleasantly surprised by Rogers on this one. I only wish this was around in 2013! #rogersroamlikehome
This blog was not written to promote Rogers as a service provider, as I’m sure other companies offer similar travel options (or they should), but only to acknowledge how technology has changed in the last decade in one particular way (as it’s changed in many other ways too).
I hope this post helps you in your travels and if you don’t have data options, then I highly recommend City Maps to easily get around and not stand out like an obvious tourist.
Of course, if you are like me and take a hundred photos a day, you still might stand out! #sorrynotsorry
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Comment below if you’ve had similar experiences or any tips you have for getting around in other countries, I’d love to hear about it!
xo Shawn

Giverny, France

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I happen to really like this photo. It was taken at Monet’s house in Giverny, France. This is one of the places I had always wanted to go, so while in Paris I made a side trip. Turns out it is not the easiest place to get to from Paris, with regards to train timetables and connections. I had only half a day so I went very early in order to make the first bus connection to the house, ended up meeting a girl from Korea and sat for close to 3 hours in a little cafe. There is a market on Saturday morning I wanted to go to but ended up not for fear I’d get lost (something I am good at). All hopped up on cappuccinos, we caught the bus and took it all of 10 minutes to Monet’s house. It’s a bit of a walk from the bus drop off and people boogie to be first. The line up was long but luckily I had pre-purchased my ticket and went right in. I only had about an hour and a half at this point before for my train back to Paris so I did rush a bit but I got to see it all. His house is quaint and pretty inside (no pictures allowed) with gorgeous views of the garden. That garden was so special; I’ll probably do another post just on flowers in it. La piece de résistance, for me, would be the pond with its water lilies, weeping willows and bridges (yes I took a picture on one). His home inspired so many of his materpieces, it’s surreal to witness the beauty in real life. I was blessed with a perfect, sunny day to see the historic home of such a gifted artist and I feel special to have been there. Now, the story of my adventure to get back to Paris… I left with the intention of taking a taxi back to the train station; however I did not know to call before I left Monet’s. So after getting to the bus area and seeing no taxis, I opted to try and walk. That brilliant plan lasted 5 minutes as debris filled my shoes while I struggled down the side of a dirt road. I tried to get a hotel to call me a taxi but no one was around. About 10 minutes later, I stumble upon a restaurant with a bus outside; but again no one is around and it’s closed. Now I am panicking, convinced I will miss the train. Then a car pulls up. Inside is a woman, who happens to be the owners’ wife and her two daughters, I ask if she can call me a taxi and she offers to drive me. This is the only time in my life I ever hitchhiked (if you’d call it that). She owns a B&B in a neighbouring town and was so friendly and sweet. They saved the day because I made my train and got back to Paris in time. I am so grateful to her. On a side note, the nearest station is Vernon; that happens to be the inspiration of some of Monet’s paintings. One such painting my dad had hanging in our dining room since I can remember, and even though it looks nothing like that now, it was neat to be there in person.

June 15, 2013