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Free Our Minds & The Rest Will Follow…

Chef Eyal's Culinary Creation

"Things that you see from here, you don't see from there." (דברים שרואים משם לא רואים מכאן)

A beautiful quote by Israeli poet Ya’akov Rothblit from a poem I grew up with.

My life's story is that of a regular white kid. I grew up with privilege and was groomed to be a cisgender, white, heterosexual man of means. And because of this grooming, I do know your perspectives, my dear men because remember I was you. Well more accurately, I was expected to be you but took around 39 years to reveal my true self - that's just semantics though at this point, really.

But the fact remains that it is hard to see diversity when you have never been othered! This I know too. So with every oppression that adds to your existence, you seem to ‘gather’ this craving for inclusion. This craving burns you with passion!

For a bit of clarity, I am a white-passing Jew, a man-passing genderqueer person, a straight-passing pansexual human, polyamorous, and a settler on stolen land that benefits from colonial systems I burn with passion to deconstruct.

I’ve seen it countless times - the frustration that comes from those with supremacy in response to the oppressed challenging the normative. Voices of non-inclusive values in our society circa 2021 scream things like

You’re too sensitive!
We'll lose our freedoms!
It’s the death of poetry due to restrictions on language
It’s too hard! {stomps feet}
We just started saying he/she or men/women and now you want us to say they?
We gave you pink feminism. Now you're all into trans inclusion?!?

Ahhhhhh yes! Yes, we are! The question “Where do we draw the line” is one you can easily ask when the lines don’t, and never have, affected you personally.

Meanwhile, whitewashing and/or putting whiteness at ease can be seen in something as seemingly innocent as the uniformity of red, round tomatoes in North America (accomplished by strategically breeding out the green, yellow, and blemished ones - more later). Whitewashing and/or putting whiteness at ease can also be seen in something like the overall justifications for why we discovered 215 children buried at a Residential School in Kamloops, BC. The intentions of these school managers were "good," said a few people in the Conservative party of Canada as I recall...

Oh, too far?

Shall I ask again, then? Where DO we draw the line?!

When you are suddenly on the receiving end of these micro-aggressions, it's interesting how you blatantly begin to notice them happening around you in various ways.

purple carrot with carrot hair

Take the carrot example: when you think of a carrot, what colour do you picture? Orange. Then we distinguish the purple carrot as a purple carrot and a yellow carrot as a yellow carrot. But never the orange carrot as an "orange carrot." See how that works?

When we have come to standardize the orange-coloured carrot as the essence of all carrot-ness in a way where most don't even notice, then I ask you again: Where DO we draw the line?! With carrots? With cisgender people vs trans people? Perhaps with white people vs black people? With our comfort? With our lives??

Here's another example: Do you exclaim that so-and-so is your cisgender woman friend when you introduce/speak of her? So why do you take the time to emphasize that your friend Jennifer is a trans woman? Also: is Eric referred to in your story as a white man? Or do we only point out that Jerome is a black man in that same story?

These are the lines we need to start talking about!

Yes, I know; I’m asking you to take a big leap of imagination here. After all, I'm presenting profound ideas like calling every shade of carrot "carrots" to those with supremacy, aka those who have proven to enjoy their orange carrots right where they are - at the top of the carrot hierarchy. At the very least we could call the orange carrot an "orange carrot" as well, for the sake of carrot equality - more profound ideas. So… time and effort consuming.

But while we're on the subject of the historical whitewashing of produce in North America, let's talk about the popular and more expensive Heirloom Tomatoes:

An Heirloom tomato is a tomato - yes, just a regular old tomato! These "misshaped and odd coloured" tomatoes were re-introduced back into North America within the last decade as a luxurious tomato - The Heirloom Tomato. Meanwhile, it's these exact tomatoes that were shunned by decades of housewives as undesirable at the grocery store, leading food producers/farmers to phase them out strategically and completely. Goodbye to any tomatoes other than plump, round and red!

But can we please take a moment to acknowledge this tomato history for another facet of what it really represents: the fear and breeding out of the scary, unfamiliar, and different (read: racism and transphobia). This trend occurred as much in produce as in our communities if we are being honest.

All in the name of uniformity. Think about it for a second...

tomato salad
Tomatos: Colours bred out and then reverse engineered back & rebranded as Heirloom

Every oppression can be broken down as follows:

The two minority groups within oppressive systems are the oppressed and the oppressor, while the biggest chunk of the pie is those who benefit from the oppression of others. Remember that even those who are oppressed may still benefit from the oppression of other groups! At times, the oppressed can even benefit from some outcome of their own oppression implemented on other, less fortunate people within their own ‘class’. As George Orwell wrote, "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." Finally, the silent masses are those who enjoy, feel, and/or witness the effects of oppression on others but do not say anything or act out against it. This category can include a small sum of the oppressors (to protect their oppressive vantage point) as well as some of the oppressed (due to fear and trauma) but is mostly defined by everyone in between.

As you can see, it's the biggest chunk of humans that have access to and intersect with the powerful minority who's drawing these uncomfortable lines in the sand - the oppressors. The people who border-control the comforts of society while simultaneously restraining the kinds of profound ideas you have witnessed here in my blog today; ideas of inclusivity.

Maybe if we follow the words of En-Vogue and Free Our Minds, then maybe - just maybe - the rest will follow?

Happy Pride


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