On discussions of race and politics, Mount Allison can be a lonely place for the visible minority of us. I envy my friends of colour who attend institutions in urban places populated by folk who look like us. A certain sadness looms over me when they talk about learning from professors who look like us. At Mt. A, we lack these relationships and safety. However, that is not to say we do not exist here.
I have been trying to articulate my experiences as a woman of colour at Mt. A, where the dread of discomfort is so rampant. The justice work in which I have proudly engaged has resulted in an arrest while protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, an impeachment that I was institutionally prevented to explain and admonitions that I should “go back to where I came from.” If I followed this advice, I’d actually go back to Edmonton, and not China, as they assume.
The lack of space for people of colour at Mt. A is distressing. Writing this column is my way of resisting the neglect of minorities that has existed since the University was built on stolen land. The purpose of this column is to elicit conversations of race and justice that have been put on the back burner for so long. The foundation of so many of our public institutions is white supremacy. We must talk about it. We must question it. We must learn how to be better allies.
A year ago, many of us would have been slack-jawed to see white supremacists proudly march in the public streets of Charlottesville with their hoods off. A year ago, many of us looked on in disbelief as a white supremacist was sworn in as the President of the United States.
As I attempt to do my part in normalizing conversations of race and justice on our campus, I ask that you listen with an open mind. If you are a white person and you feel helpless watching the news, how much trauma do you need to witness to finally understand that these racist events are not isolated? Talking about racism and privilege is uncomfortable, but your guilt is unproductive. Sit with that discomfort while understanding what an immense privilege it is to feel uncomfortable in discussions of racism that are not directed at you.
The ideologies that resulted in the death of Dafonte Miller, the Quebec City Mosque shootings and the death of Barbara Kentner (an Indigenous woman who died from being hit by a trailer hitch from a passing car) exist here too. This violence exists in every corner of Turtle Island. This suffering may not be yours, but is ours every day.