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I’m Sick of Being a Conversation Piece for the Privileged

Every time systems and institutions are exposed for being inherently racist or designed to discriminate against BIPOC, we all seem to rush to social media to get some hashtags trending. It started with the murder of George Floyd and now it appears that #StopAntiAsianHate is trending after what happened in Atlanta.

Workplaces, schools and other institutions are quick to remind people of their ‘shared responsibilities and action plans regarding diversity and inclusion’ but what does that really mean?

What steps are these institutions and systems taking to ensure ‘diversity and inclusion’ are present? Are BIPOC being understood in the ways that they need to be? Is their work constantly being compared to that of their white colleagues?

There are so many questions that come to mind when thinking about what it means to be a part of this community and the actions that go along with it.

Are my traumas going to be exacerbated in this environment? I don’t know.

Are my traumas usually activated by insensitive people who minimize my experiences? That’s what has been happening.

Am I obliged to educate people and answer everyone’s burning questions? No. That takes a toll on my mental health as a person of colour. Every time there is some sort of equity and diversity talk that happens through a presentation or conversation where a white person is speaking about the experiences of BIPOC, it feels like I’m being wronged.

When a person that identifies as a member of a minority group shares their experiences or educates us on something, why do some of us feel the tendency to relate, control or even one-up them and what they just shared?

Another key question that comes to mind is why specific groups are highlighted and others are excluded when it comes to awareness. AAPI doesn’t just mean East Asian people; it also includes people from across Asia like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and so many more. Black people are a variety of shades and come from places across the world. Minorities aren’t limited to a specific landmass or region.

The more I have to sit through white people telling me how to “advocate” for myself, the more I wonder what they know about my experiences and why they feel entitled to teach me how to fight for my rights. The irony within that is blatant.

There are so many better ways to help us rather than committing to some performative behaviours. I don’t care if you posted about that news event or not.

What I want to know is, are you calling out racist people in your inner circle? Are you learning about the cultures that are exploited to get you that “chai tea latte” that you love? Do you even know where words like “mantra’ and practices like yoga come from BEFORE you go to the culturally appropriated goat yoga lessons?

Don’t leave it to us BIPOC to educate y’all. It’s draining and it feels like you don’t care. Frankly, I’m tired of people using our experiences and struggles to seem “woke” and call themselves allies. All these companies and institutions that are now introducing some form of “diversity and inclusion training” need to start including BIPOC and other minorities into their daily operations, rather than reducing us to required training material.

I am not something you should learn to navigate. I am someone you need to include in your conversations and have at the table. It’s about time.

Priya Butter

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Priya is a student at Wilfrid Laurier University pursuing an Honours BA in Global Studies. Along with being a writer, Priya is a passionate dancer and advocate.
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