Perspectives About Society from its Outcasts: How to Do Better in 2022
I'm a chef, so, naturally, food is my art medium and my livelihood. Additionally, I'm a Jewish, non-binary human and my life runs in conjunction and intersection with my cooking existence.
Despite a lingering expectation of me to talk about food, I will dedicate a few essays here to other issues that also affect my life - because we all know that dead-me can not cook, and that's why it matters!
First, I will reiterate an observation made by my dear friend Gillian:
“My neighbourhood is predominantly non-white. Yet when I go to any of the seven pharmacies within a few blocks from my house - all the bandages are either [white ppl] 'skin-tone' or silly cartoons.” The only possible conclusions are that people of colour are less likely to injure themselves, people of colour really like Dora the Explorer better than plain-looking bandages, people of colour heal faster, or that people of colour are an afterthought in a health system created to serve white people.
I know what my reasonable conclusion would be about this observation, but, then again, I host a judgment-free zone here.
If you find some of the opening ideas I've shared ridiculous, then I'm with you. When Rebecca and I shared statistics about the number of black sommeliers and winemakers in Ontario, we still had a few (a.k.a a few too many) people comment that "maybe wine speaks less to people of colour." But, then again, this was in 2020, and Trump was the President of the United States.
If you have read my previous posts, you would know that some issues are dear to my heart, as they are part of my direct existence. So, of course, one would hope that simply being a human would make us all super interested in human rights. Nonetheless, 2022 keeps surprising me!
So, why are we here?
Being treated as invisible and experiencing consistent attempts at erasure from society tends to impact people differently. [And, no, I'm in no way entertaining the idea of the 'Freedom Convoy protestors' as oppressed, invisible, nor freedom fighters.)
I can give you a peek into my experiences and a few ways I see it manifesting in others. The truth is always a combination of middles.
So, let's clarify: No one actively said, "You know what? Let's not make brown bandaids!" Erasure is a micro-aggression in most instances. Instead, they made bandaids full of great intentions. [No, Mr. O'Toole, not like the founders of the Residential School System]. When they made bandaids, they thought of white people and white children, but no one bothered thinking about the idea of other skin shades.
Here’s something else that’s true: for years, feminists had to fight for inclusions as simple as saying "the men and women of ______" (insert your institution of choice here) instead of just ”men”. And hell no - I'm not taking the standing ovation away from the older, cis-, white men that managed to make it a common practice of being inclusive to women in 2021. A tip of the hat for your progressive progressions 👏🏼
But imagine a different world (my world):
During COVID, a small business owner needs to listen to the news because it directly affects your day-to-day life. I painstakingly noticed it's full of politicians [left and right] thanking men and women for serving during the pandemic. So, why is this a problem?
Well, for starters, I find it hard to believe there are no Transgender and Non-Binary folx who work for the Toronto Police. Or Toronto Fire. Or the Canadian Military. Or in the hospitals. Or in the grocery stores. Where do all of us NB's hide nowadays!?
Maybe it's that the Transgender and Non-Binary folx are not worthy enough to be thanked alongside all the incredible men and women out there.
Perhaps, we are purposefully erased and not considered in these news broadcasts, or anywhere for that matter. Maybe it's that my very existence as a Non-Binary person offends or threatens cis-men enough to make me an afterthought?
In the effects of these traumas; I see a few paths:
One significant outcome is silence; where a person who is constantly picked on may go inward to form a safe cocoon and just exist.
The opposite path from silence is a sheer disregard and lack of fear: "What do I have to lose? I'm already there." And with nothing to lose, I can risk the shuffle of people that won’t like me, or erase me, or ignore me. Pride, for example, was initially a riot started by Black Trans Women who realized they had nothing left to lose.
Results of oppressions vary from forming groups of singular oppression & not seeing anything besides your own to becoming a warrior against every single wrong. This is because there are so many variations of traumas, responses, personal outcomes, and ways to cope. Despite this, all of you are valid and I see each and every one of you!
But what's my point? Where am I going with this, you're asking?
My point is that I think we are on the edge of a cliff as a society. We still accept small victories instead of fighting for justice. For instance, we believe lowering a flag at half-mast is acceptable after discovering 215 Indigenous children buried in British Columbia, with not one person being investigated or sent to prison as the body count exceeds six thousand.
This behaviour won't hold forever. Continuing to offer regrets and apologies, or thoughts and prayers, instead of presenting plans of action and change will not cut it. But, in 2022, it seems as if we will finally wake up to see things as they are.
I believe change is inevitable, and I will continue to be a part of every conversation. Remember that Pride started as a riot - I am very ready to march!