Pat Blythe – Interpretation….Racism….White Privilege – (bet that caught your attention!)….

This column was supposed to be about London Bluesfest and a final wrap-up of Mariposa and Summerfolk but I’ve ended up down the rabbit hole, waaaaay down the rabbit hole on a totally different tangent. My apologies to those waiting for any of the above but occasionally, when I get stuck on a thread I’ve got to go with it. So….I woke up yesterday morning with a particular FB post and the subsequent thread traipsing around in my cranium. Bear with me. First the post….

I love that the things privileged folks seem to want in on are the things underprivileged folks are trying to get out of. it seems like some people want to be able to be victims of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination so bad they’re inventing it where it doesn’t exist. Want it? TAKE IT! but only if the rest of us can have your level of privilege in exchange….”

I found the post interesting although I had no idea what the specific context was. I would normally let that go by with a simple “like” (because in principal I agreed). But, when someone compared the premise of the post to an uproar in the U.K about a white singer and a ‘black’ song, I read on. It didn’t quit fit.

And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going – Bianca Ryan

(wait for it……)

And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going – Jennifer Hudson

(run on sentence alert) The hubbub….white singer Mazz Murray, according to Twitter and media reports, was prevented from performing the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the West End show Dreamgirls because producers Seventh Sense decided it was not “appropriate” for a white woman to sing a song from an African-American musical. Evidently white people were outraged with some calling it reverse racism, so the post respondent continues on to say, “…it seems as though we’ve reached a twisted point where the privileged now want to be victims of discrimination so they can deny they’re privileged”.  By the way, here’s the full article according to Media, Entertainment, Arts Worldwide (MEAWW)  https://meaww.com/race-based-injustice-west-end-star-barred-singing-dreamgirls-ballad-because-she-not-black-mazz-murray-brian-may

Wading in…..

I am no political analyst nor do I profess to be extensively knowledgeable in this area. I follow the news (mechanical and otherwise), participate in conversations, do the research, listen to the radio reports and other viewpoints and generally try to pay attention to what’s going on in the world (and on our doorsteps), ultimately drawing my own conclusions based on the cacophony of information available. Now our DBAWIS politico, Roxanne Tellier aka Mrs. Parker, does a great job of separating the wheat from the chaff (so to speak) analytically, with careful thought and reams of research, eliminating all the froo froo of reactionary responses and sentiment. It’s done with clarity and without emotion…..and, although we may not always agree with her, she nails it!

I decided to wade in where I don’t normally go. Why? Because I thought the comments did not reflect the essence of the original post. The trail had segued from racism to white privilege and the post referred to neither.

As for my take….I believe the post was referring to anybody in an elitist position who attempts to empathize or compare themselves with, and generally hijack, the plight of those less fortunate; that they are not actually willing to take on the misery of those lives but feel the desperate need to associate with it/them for their for own self serving purposes; that they must appear to be ‘one of them’ so they are not left out of the ‘conversation’.

This is neither white privilege or racism….. it’s another form of “me too” but in an extremely crass, egocentric, insensitive and thoughtless form. It’s not based on colour or lack of…..it’s about assuaging your guilt while feeding your ego and it’s a rather perverse way of being or feeling included.

Common sense should prevail but even that phrase is an oxymoron….

We get nowhere, accomplish nothing with any form of racism or bigotry and the comment Seventh Sense allegedly made was unabashedly racist. If it had been the reverse….black woman banned from singing a white women’s song…..all hell would have broken loose on every page in social media and, without any hesitation, the “perpetrator(s)” would have been pilloried, thrashed, bullied and belittled mercilessly while those rising up against it applauded. As for white privilege specifically, I don’t see that as being noted or part of the story either. The term “white privilege” also subtly implies that whites shouldn’t, or somehow don’t have the right to voice their dissatisfactions or complaints….that being a lighter shade of pale means we keep our mouths shut when we experience discrimination. Our sense of fair play and justice does at times feel a bit lopsided.

I suppose I live in a rather Utopian world in my head. It’s not the colour of your skin or where you’re from that I base my decision on whether you are a good person or not….it’s what’s in your heart that counts. I have no defense for my skin colour. It’s been suggested my Scottish/English paleness provides me the privilege to ignore the skin colour of others. Conversely, if I was a person of colour apparently I wouldn’t have that same privilege. I most assuredly do not agree. We ALL have the privilege or ability to ignore race, colour, etc. if we choose, because it really all comes down to choice, regardless of what you’re taught, see, read or hear. To quote Nelson Mandela, “no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion…people must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Born This Way — Lady Gaga

I don’t look at it through rose coloured glasses either. I am well aware of how people of colour or mixed race, including my friends, are treated by law enforcement, business, educational and religious institutions, government, etc. and much of the general population. I hear the snide remarks and innuendos. I see them overlooked and underrated. We treat our elderly, homeless or women in a similar fashion. No we don’t card them or pull them over but just as shamefully we ignore them, push them aside, judge them, belittle them and mock their grievances.

Racism/white privilege……

So…..what is the difference between “racism” and “white privilege”? I found the following descriptors in a beautifully written piece that describes it perfectly.  Excerpted from White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay M.S. To read the entire article go here https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/on-racism-and-white-privilege

On white skin privilege, “White skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society (this, by way, refers to everything from hair care products to band aids).…”White privilege” (quotes are mine) is a hidden and transparent preference that is often difficult to address. Only on closer inspection do we see how it creates a sense of entitlement, generates perks and advantages for white people and elevates our status in the world.”

On racism, “Racism is a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that does three things. First, it claims to find racial differences in things like character and intelligence. Second, racism asserts the superiority of one race over another or others. Finally, it seeks to maintain that dominance through a complex system of beliefs, behaviors, use of language and policies. Racism ranges from the individual to the institutional level and reflects and enforces a pervasive view, in white dominated U.S. culture that people of color are inferior to whites.”

On the face of it, neither of these above statements fit the initial post.

Labels……

Everyone is trying to be politically correct and it’s backfiring at peak volumes. All our self-righteous indignation at whatever piques us has run amok. Our inferiority complexes are surfacing and the blame game is on. Adding fuel to the ever growing fire is the so-called leader of the supposedly greatest nation on earth who has given every uneducated, no-brained, numbskull a free licence for stupidity while he works furiously for his own “get out of jail free” card. It’s truly a Pandora’s box of woes. We are not files folders in a filing cabinet so please…. stop! with all the labeling and categorizing. Like the word “multiculturalism” these “tabs” only serve to divide and separate us, to point out our differences and put us all on the defensive rather than eliminating the barriers and promoting integration.

In my humble opinion we are great at coming up with the buzz words or catch phrases, classifying and branding. We can give ourselves an A+ at shining a light on problems and the differences, an A++ at pointing the finger. We earn a Z- at truthfully facing up to and agreeing on one thing…..in one form or another we all have biases or prejudices….they are inherent in us. We must acknowledge them, address them, learn from them and finally turf them (although the bias against that spider crawling down your arm and the urge to crush it I’ll forgive). Instead of simply reacting we need to take a deep breath, slow down and listen.

There will be some who agree, some who will agree to disagree, some who thrive on poking holes or finding discrepancies or simply like to bash. Racism, sexism, ageism….they are all endemic. It’s impossible to cover all bases or touch on every point but I will say this…. I am so incredibly grateful and thankful for the many friends I have…..from all walks of life. I do not see their colour, their race, their sexual orientation, their religion.  I see them as the wonderful, warm, funny, supportive, creative, loving, caring human beings they are. They are precious and they mean the world to me.

Now there’s the new buzz word….cultural appropriation. Don’t get me going on that one. I’ll leave that up to Mrs. Parker.

Imagine – John Lennon

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

3 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Interpretation….Racism….White Privilege – (bet that caught your attention!)….”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    What an outstanding column!

  2. Jain McMillan Says:

    thought provoking read… thanks for it

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