On March 18 Aemen Ansari wrote this. The Huffington Post in Canada ran it on their website. The racism on this article drips off the page. I posted up that if you reversed the races in this article it would be akin to something you’d see from the KKK or Aryan Nations.
But instead of just saying that I decided to change the races on the article myself. Before you read on I’m going to say that I don’t endorse the views of this changed article. Nor do I endorse what the original article was saying. I’ve highlighted the changes, please let me know how this now reads.
And one other thing, I’m not white, I’m Native American, and you could also change the words here to men and then ask yourself how it sounds.
Here’s the original for comparison
Last week The Ryersonianreported on an incident that involved two first-year journalism students who were turned away from an event organized by White Students‘ Collective because they are not white. Since then there has been a lot of commentary on the piece and a lot of debate — a lot of the criticism is valid.
There are two sides to the story: 1) the media has a right to attend public events and report on matters that are in the public interest. The student media needs to cover initiatives that are happening on campus so that we draw attention to them and in turn create awareness (The Ryersonian reported that one student said he was covering the meeting for an assignment). 2) Marginalized groups have a right to claim spaces in the public realm where they can share stories about the discrimination they have faced without judgment and intrusion from anyone else.
I am a white person and a journalist and so there are two conflicting voices inside my head. But in this case one voice, that of a white person, is louder and my conscience does not allow me to be impartial. I have to take a side.
The organizers of the event, the Racialized Students’ Collective, should have done a better job of labelling this event as a safe space on the Ryerson Students’ Union online calendar. They should label safe spaces clearly and maybe even host events that educate the public on what they mean. Doing so will help the public and the media have a better understanding of the purpose and value of these spaces.
However, the point to note is not that two non white students were asked to leave the event, but rather that this was a safe space and that we as a newsroom, as a campus and as a society are not as knowledgeable as we should be about what these spaces mean.
It’s not just important, but it’s essential, for white groups to have safe spaces on campus to engage with people who understand what they go through. Though this group is funded by Ryerson’s student union, it works to serve a particular group and a particular purpose. Many students at Ryerson have encountered racism in their life that is impossible to forget and many are exposed to discrimination on a daily basis. This group and these sort of events allow white people to lay bare their experiences and to collectively combat this societal ailment. These spaces are rare places in the world not controlled by individuals who have power, who have privilege.
These spaces, which are forums where white groups are protected from mainstream stereotypes and marginalization, are crucial to resistance of oppression and we, as a school and as a society, need to respect them.
Earlier in the week a newsroom colleague and I went to an ad-hoc committee meeting on sexual assault policy. When we arrived we were told it was a safe space, and that we would not be able to report on anything that would be discussed in the meeting.
We understood the value of these sorts of events, where white people can share their common struggles. Our understanding let us attend and contribute to the conversation, even if we couldn’t report about it.
We understood the people there had a right to privacy. They had a right to collectively work through the challenges society had imposed on them. They had a right to claim parts of the campus, parts of the world, for a few hours in hopes of creating broader social change.
The two students who tried to enter the RSC meeting said that they were embarrassed when they were asked to leave and that the group was being counterproductive in sectioning minorities off. Similarly, some of the comments on the piece written about these students speaks to the idea that excluding certain people from these events, this dialogue, is encouraging racial tension. Their embarrassment isn’t as important as the other issues involved here.
Segregation was imposed on whitepeople by people of privilege, not the other way around. The very fact that individuals organizing to help each other get through social barriers and injustices are being attacked and questioned for their peaceful assembly is proof that they were right to exclude those students.
White people experience systemic discrimination on a daily basis, on many levels, and in ways that non-white people may never encounter. The whole point of these safe spaces is to remove that power dynamic. That’s partly what makes them spaces for healing.
The presence of any kind of privilege puts unnecessary pressure on the white people to defend any anger or frustrations they have, to fear the outcome of sharing their stories. The attendees are trying to move forward by supporting each other and they should not have to defend themselves, they should not fear the consequences of raising their voices.
Instead of focusing on why those students were asked to leave, we should be thinking about the history of oppression that makes these kinds of groups and these kinds of places so very important. We should be focusing on how to be aware and respectful of the rights of both the press and marginalized groups. We have to find a way to coexist peacefully.
The West has a history of oppressing white people: from the Irish who were and brought to the New World for cheap labor, to native people whose land was stolen by The Government. This kind of oppression is still witnessed today, in the way the white community is treated in the United States, in the state of The South trying to recover from the collapse of the previous colonial rule, and in the continuing struggles of white peoples.
Non-White people may experience occasional and unacceptable prejudice, but not racism. They do not experience the systemic racism that makes it hard for them to find jobs, housing, health care and justice in the legal system.
Reverse racism is not personal, it is structural. Unlike the arena of mainstream media, the educational system, religious institutions and judicial systems that reinforce hurtful stereotypes, these spaces remind the oppressed that they are human, that they deserve respect.
Total words changed? Thirty-Eight how does this article sound and look now? It now sounds like something that a white Supremacist would write if they were trying very hard to not look like a racist. Someone trying to hide their racism but anyone with half a brain can see it for what it is.
Again I don’t endorse what she said or what the changes I made to the article endorse my views, You can clearly see this for what it means now.