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  • Writer's picturewendymaekirk

The System Is Not Broken .... It Was Built That Way

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

(title & picture borrowed from Brené Brown)

In response to the events of this week:

This is going to be a rant, and you may not be happy with me.

I know this week has been a horrible reminder of the racism that still exists, and is robustly present in our world. While I think it’s uncomfortable to sit with these reminders, and see how this impacts people’s lives, and their response to the continued oppression, and I think it’s appalling that in 2020, we still don’t see other people as full people because of their cultural backgrounds or the colour of their skin, or their abilities, or ….. the list goes on, so that we can excuse our treatment of others, and they cannot live freely and safely in any community;

I think that the rioting and civil unrest that is happening now is a necessary consequence of the history that we are dealing with, and a necessary part of the process of rebalancing the world into a better place for everyone. I think that if we had been able to live in peace and mutual respect in our communities, then we would not be dealing with these issues now, and as much as it affects families with privilege, there are black, indigenous, people of colour (BIPoC) that have to be careful of every choice they make, every day, and they are not safe, even in their own homes from people in authority. I know people that are BIPoC, and others from Asia that are struggling with the overt racism, and the precariousness of life that they live with every single day – not just when there are riots. When the privileged are willing to share power with everyone else, this will be resolved, but that’s not our experience in North America at the present time, and is a problem in a lot of other places in the world as well. We need to stop ignoring the problem, and hoping that everything will go back to normal, and work to change the way we see the world, and how we live in it with all of our neighbours.

I recently read a book that Brené Brown had recommended, and starting following someone on Instagram that she had suggested be followed. This woman recounts stories of her experiences with the police and her challenging them, while her male companion pleads with her to not do that, and with very good reason. There’s an American Black Comedian who tells about being in Vancouver, BC in Canada, and having the police shout “stop”, and he automatically put his hands behind his head, and got on his knees, only to discover that they were talking to a white man near him. It was so shocking to him that this would happen, that he was talking about it regularly publicly.

I try to read books and articles and short stories by BIPoC and others with different life experience than my own, because I think I need to be educated, but I'm very aware that I have the privilege to be able to do this in bits and pieces, taking breaks from the embodied trauma that other people have no relief from in their lives. I know when I'm trying to work with clients, who have a difference, to step down their hypervigilance, and their life is different from mine, that I cannot remove it altogether, because they need enhanced vigilance to be safe in this world, much as women need to be more vigilant to walk alone at night.

We need to be aware of how we are in this world, and how much space we give to others, and what we are willing to share with them. Just as the British reaped the results of centuries of oppression of Irish people in “The Troubles” and other “Terrorists” who are actually people who have run out of options to deal with their oppression and trying to be heard, and are labelled because of that, this is coming home to roost in other places as well. I don’t know if you watched The Crown, but in one of the Queen’s speeches, she talks about how people who are doing dreary work are supporting the rest of the economy, and the realm; and the inherent privilege and self-centered, self-serving attitudes of the ruling classes in Imperialism and Colonialism are all apparent in the speech. It shocks me that we’ve progressed so little. I saw a couple a few years ago, and the second visit they thanked me for treating them both as people, and I was stunned and saddened that they thought they had to say thank you for that. It was not their experience of life here.

I hope that as we do the things that we need to do in everyday life to change how we include and respect other people, that the world will be a place where everyone has place and safety and security to live and enjoy life, BUT THAT IS NOT NOW.

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