Systemic Racism and Blind Spots

The following was delivered by Peter Bevan-Baker in the Legislature as a Member Statement on June 9, 2020.

One of the biggest challenges of living in a society based on systemic racism, misogyny, and homophobia is that the assumed superiority of the white male heterosexual is built into every fibre of our culture.  It is in the air that we breathe, the history we read, and every aspect of our daily lives.  For someone like me, who fits into that norm, it is often hard to clearly see what is so glaringly obvious to others.  Privilege creates blind spots and the greater the privilege the larger the blind spots.

In some ways it is like driving on a crowded multilane highway. When I learned to drive I was trained to always check my blind spots.  A driver can do a lot of damage if they change lanes and are not aware of what is happening around them. 

Similarly when moving through society we must also be aware of our blind spots in our interactions with others. I must always be alert to what is happening around me and what I am missing; I must check over my shoulder regularly to see if people are being left behind; and most importantly I must be willing to look in the mirror and face my own errors.

The past two weeks of protests has resulted in a number of hard conversations about race, violence and the systems and tools that oppress so many in our society.

But I am grateful for these conversations and the awareness that the Black Lives Matter movement is sparking around racism, not only towards black people, but the Indigenous people our country has systematically dispossessed and tried to assimilate, as well as many other minority groups who suffer solely because of the colour of their skin. 

This movement is telling me that change has been far too slow and society too complacent, and it is asking all of us who truly care about equality and social justice to examine ourselves and the systems we are part of, and to step up our efforts. 

At times this conversation has been difficult and heated.  At times I have been forced to look in the mirror and been tempted to turn away. 

But at times like this I have also learned that I must bow my head and say, you know what? I don’t always know and do the right thing and I am sorry if anything I did caused you pain, and now that I know, I will try to do better.