Sunday, 19 April 2020

Vulnerable People Don't Have To Teach You About Your Privilege

FFS People... rather, FFS people with privilege!

If you're a white woman not on welfare, you have privilege.
If you're a black man working at Tim Horton's, you have privilege.
If you're a white/Asian/Black woman on welfare, you have privilege, too.
If you speak English fluently, you have privilege.
We all have some privilege in certain situations.

Figure this the F**K out, please.

Maybe this video will help explain some things about privilege - not entirely but at least in part:

Maybe it will help to do this:

"I have more privilege than..." and "In turn, I have less privilege than..." -  rather than "I do/do not have privilege." (it's not an either or deal - everyone has some and everyone loses/is without some privilege in certain situations)

I enjoy less privilege than many people but I'm a white passing, straight passing cis female who is Indigenous and queer, so I have more privilege than:
  • Women of colour
  • Some men of colour
  • Some trans persons
  • Almost all children
  • Almost all animals
  • I have more privilege in most areas than my Elders (they look Indigenous but I can pass as white)
Yes, I've examined how my privilege works.
Yes, I know some of my privilege is not fair.
Yes, I have been upbraided, corrected, scolded, accused and bitched at about this - and I have apologized for some things I might not have truly needed to apologize for because - this is the process for becoming a decent ally to anyone with less privilege than I experience.
Yes, I'm willing to examine my privilege again when asked.
(what is privilege in one situation may not be in another, so I am willing to examine my privilege and seek understanding in new situations)

Whoops - backtrack to the part about - I have apologized before even when, by colonial, current 'norm' standards, I didn't really need to say sorry...

I DID need to apologize, however, if I wanted/want to be a decent ally. I DO need to apologize in many ally situations. Here's how this works:

I need to apologize and mean it because when accused of taking someone else's resources because I am white and they are not, this is TRUE. It isn't generally that I am actively or purposely taking/using the resources one-without-privilege doesn't receive but IT IS TRUE that I receive and someone else doesn't. (my argument to defend my motives/intent doesn't cover what actual reality is). I am in a state of privilege and gain even if it's a situation whereby I am not able to spot this oppressive situation sooner and get a systemic wrong to provide this person with equal resources as I get. Or if I don't immediately give my resources to them (sometimes I don't - I need resources, too... it's not fair and I am not always fair, either).

Also, where I don't always have power to make change immediately, I need to apologize, anyway, and at least LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCES and honour/own knowledge that another person's lack is present in lieu of my receipt of same resources.

They (who are noting my privilege and their lack of same) are ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY. People can be ANGRY without being abusive. People CAN be ANGRY with me when I represent (either by consent or by proximity) the/a group of privilege who is making their resource acquisition unfair. I don't get to chose/change THEIR response - I can select my response and if I want to be a decent ally, the response is TO APOLOGIZE AND LISTEN.

Until I apologize, nobody has to be in a conversation with me and hear me defend that "it's not my fault." After I say that "I'm sorry that happened/is happening with you and I'm looking at my part in this so I can correct wrongs where I have the power to do so", I don't get to just walk away, either. To follow up, I get to listen some more to the experience of another person I am trying to be an ally to/with.

I'm never going to be a perfect ally and I cannot ever name myself an actual ally  - I am in the works, in the process of learning to be an ally. Other people from areas of less privilege actually decide if I am their ally or not.

That's the other thing... FFS people with privilege, stop giving yourself the title of "Ally" without earning it...


A certain fragility exists in many who are accustomed to much privilege. This complicates matters of equality, equity, access and fairness toward others when fragility overtakes the process of learning to hear vulnerable voices. Letting fragility run the show undermines learning to be instructed by vulnerable or different voices (not all people who get marginalized are particularly vulnerable - but they do get overpowered, overshadowed until all that can be noticed is "the norm.")

These voices of different, oppressed, vulnerable, and 'othered' people are TEACHING voices, not enemy voices. Admittedly, some conversations involving oppressed persons and oppression are DIFFICULT - but dammit - step up and put your fragility on hold (it will still be there later if you really want to go into it) so you can listen if you want to be an ally. Heal and learn on YOUR time, not another person's time.

How to do this "putting fragility on hold," you ask?

Well, it's different for everyone, but it starts with awareness and willingness to stop defending yourself. When you defend your position with another person in the room who is needing you as an ally, you further marginalize them. (hey, I get it, this might not be your intent - but it's the EFFECT that defensive statements cause in this situation). You're saying "Hey I want to listen but I'm still prioritizing my importance over yours so I'm backing away, I'm fragile, I'm not able to hear all of what you say, me, me, me and it's not my fault--" <---- versions of those things.

It is not the responsibility of those you have marginalized to teach you about your privilege and how you marginalize them. If you're AWARE of the ways of marginalization and your or systemic parts in creating the imbalance(s) and you're not, in some way, involved in making matters right, you are oppressing/marginalizing other persons.

I am, too - even though I do social justice work and peer advocacy. I am still responsible, in part, for some oppression of others. I have no defense. I'm working on being aware in all my relationships and interactions (which is really, REALLY hard) and, where I find I can take corrective action, I do. As often as possible. Some days are better than others but I have to get up and make a decision about this - daily! It's a real decision, action, and skill to be an ally-oriented person (instead of a top-down power person or hierarchy person or a follower, etc). If you wake up one day and don't take action, don't call yourself an Ally - don't get involved with work that requires these decisions, actions, skills and the follow through.

Some days, I'm not an ally... Some days, nobody would call me an ally at all. On those days, I'm not up to the tasks, decision-making, actions or mind-set. I need breaks. I'm not perfect and you don't have to be either...

On days you do step up to work as an ally, you do need to work hard and seriously at this; learn to apologize and mean it, listen carefully, put yourself in other peoples' shoes when they talk about their experiences, ask others what THEY think/want to do, how THEY think things can proceed, and be prepared and able to hear some things with an open mind that will be hard to hear and that you will NOT like.

It is not the responsibility of those "othered" to help you deal with your feelings  - tho' MANY of the 'othered' are more than willing to help once their voices are heard. Many will stick around to check in with you because they KNOW what it's like to feel and be hurt. Just don't expect this assistance and know that if you get it, you haven't actually earned it - it is about the character of 'the other' being human, not about you.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Covid-19 Topic: Made It Past Day 28 of Self Isolation

So... 28 days of being self isolated have provided me with the worst hair horns ever, a fairly regular nap schedule, and time for playing ukulele basically any darn time I want!

I'm learning how to Zoom, Facetime, Skype, use various kinds of software to communicate with others via computer and phone that are not just phone function calls.

My groceries list is changing because I have to start making some foods as homemade, on demand, 'cos there's only so much storage for some items from the store. The same goes for household items, cleaners, etc. - only so much storage; plus, needing to avoid running out of things that are important. Mostly, this need to order from stores differently is because the protocol for shopping has drastically changed and shopper/delivery services are backlogged badly. Services that used to guarantee same day delivery within 2 hours are taking over a week to deliver an order I placed last week.

BY the way, if you haven't tried Instacart yet, try it!!!

If you use the link below, I get a small reward to help me with my next order - and you get $10.00 off on YOUR order:

Sign up/Shop with Instacart


I've fielded a number of phone calls about people not doing well in isolation and feel grateful that isolation hasn't bothered my mental health too much. I've had a few moments of anxiety and also a few low points of wondering what to do and WHY to bother doing some things when the whole world is in pieces right now... And I could seriously hold all those combined moments in the palm of one hand. Again - grateful about this.

There are seriously interesting changes happening in the world. Since many factories are shut down, many places near those factories have cleaner air. I'm reading about wildlife repopulating certain areas where people would normally intrude in wild spaces and push animals out of their environments. This is awesome and interesting for me to find out.

It's mostly better in my realm of living, too. It's quieter in my small area of the world and I can stop and reflect, think some things through. In doing so, I'm also resting so I'm ready for difficult phone calls with people who are cracking from isolation issues. I'm staying home still, staying safe. I'm trying to figure out how to start a container garden I'll manage on my balcony, in my yard and my front room.

Everything about all this is different.

This isn't what I had planned for Spring 2020... it's actually better!


Sunday, 5 April 2020

Anchoring Bias Interferes With Critical Thinking

A bias a lot of people don't know about yet is called Anchoring Bias. Most people make bad decisions because they are under the conditions of this bias and people aren't aware they're even making decisions based on unsound anchoring perception.

Anchoring bias happens when a person relies on the first tidbit of information they've heard and use trust in that information to make decisions without weighing the value of other pieces of data. Basically, a person relies too heavily on one tidbit if information they view as a stable fact/position and then moves on to decision making.

It works like this:

Store T gets in a new shirt style and puts these on the rack for $99ea, so people see this shirt as a $99 dollar shirt.

In two weeks, the style of shirt isn't selling, so Store T puts a new tag on the shirt(s): $59.

Now, people believe this shirt is ON SALE and they're getting a deal. They're more willing to fork out money on this shirt, believing they are getting big value for less money.

In reality, the $99 is the anchor that all future information is weighed against. It may not be the value of the shirt but is a price the store decided they wanted to sell the shirt for. (It's about how much money the store can make for selling the shirt)

Check out this addition to the example:

Store N has the same shirt in stock that Store T put out at $99...

Store N puts a tag on the shirt for $65.

Someone - a shopper - who was in Store T and saw the $99 shirt ends up in Store N and sees the same shirt for $65. The shopper hasn't seen Store T mark the shirt down to $59. Now the shopper is going to decide, most likely, that if they really like and want the shirt, they'll buy it for $65 in Store N and be getting one heck of a deal...

The shopper's decision is based on anchoring - having originally seen the style of shirt for $99.

In this example, we can see that there is likely nothing but store profit involved in the price tag but shoppers place perceived value on items, particularly when an anchoring price starts high then goes down, making shoppers perceive that they're getting a deal for their money.