This ‘party’ is not for everyone
I’ve seen some Wakefielders who support the protest and occupation happening in downtown Ottawa argue that demonstrators are peaceful. I’ve also seen protesters themselves on social media or on the news attempt to project a joyous and almost party-like atmosphere.
This is where I ask you to check if you’re white. Go on, I can wait. Oh you are? Great. Now I’m going to ask if you can remind yourself of what privileges you enjoy.
There have been a number of people charged with hate crimes in Ottawa, reports of protesters hurling racist slurs at residents, and of course, the infamous symbols of hate, the swastika and confederate flag, among others. (I’d personally add the Trump flag to that list, but perhaps that’s a debate for another day.)
So Wakefield, here’s my point: I know there are a lot of alternative perspectives in this village, and that’s part of what makes Wakefield weird in the best way possible. But I implore you to remember your friends of colour, as well as anyone who belongs to marginalized or vulnerable communities, and ask yourself if they’re all welcome at “the party” happening in Ottawa right now? Spoiler: the answer is no.
If you need to be convinced of this fact, know that this past weekend veteran grassroots protest organizers strongly discouraged counter-protests in the city because of serious safety concerns about the convoy escalating violence, especially for marginalized folks who are already being targeted in the downtown area.
And if you argue that those few members of the convoy who take racist actions are the minority, I’d argue that there’s evidence to suggest convoy organizers have espoused white supremacist rhetoric in the past in public spaces.
You may even say, “Ana, I saw people of colour on the Hill high-fiving organizers.” To that I’d say, “Cool, but their experience and decisions don’t negate the experiences of those who feel unsafe or have experienced intimidation, harassment or racial slurs in their own neighbourhoods.”
Finally – and I borrow this excellent analogy from The Hill Times managing editor Charelle Evelyn – if you were invited to a party and the host was like, ‘Hey, so that corner of people over there are all Nazis, but like, everyone else here is cool,” would you step foot into that party?
I’m not asking you to stop talking about COVID-19 mandates, how the unvaccinated have been treated or to stop voicing your frustrations, but I am asking you not to ignore the very real racist rhetoric taking place before our very eyes. Please do not ignore this because it’s inconvenient or doesn’t fit with the rest of what the convoy represents to you.
So please, take a moment and remember your empathy and your privilege.