I’ve been racist.
I grew up in a predominately white town. There was one black family in my neighbourhood. I was never taught about race growing up, but I knew that those kids didn’t look like me, and I didn’t know why.
When I was in middle school, my friend and I filmed a video project for school where she was playing Oprah. I put dark-coloured makeup on her to make her look more black. I didn’t know this was wrong.
During my first year of university, I dressed up as an Indigenous woman for Halloween. This is before I learned about intersectionality and cultural appropriation in one of my courses less than a year later. I remember feeling sick to my stomach when I found out. I almost deleted all the photos from my Facebook in embarrassment. However, I didn’t, because at the time, I didn’t know it was wrong.
We are, without a doubt, an incredible species. We’ve built huge machines that can fly from one end of the world to the other. We’ve discovered ancient burial grounds and fossils from animals living millions of years ago. Heck, we’ve even put a man on the moon. We are a smart species, a species whose learning capabilities are beyond that of any other animal on the planet. It should not be this hard to learn acceptance. It should not be this difficult to acknowledge that we have not always known right from wrong. That we are constantly developing and moulding into a better version of ourselves. I’m a white person, and I’ve been racist. I know this. I know I’ve benefited from the colour of my skin in all areas of my life. I know that I can never know what it’s like not to be white. I know that I am still learning, and will continue to do so throughout my lifetime. White people, we need to do better. We need to put our ego aside and stop saying “I’m not racist,” because the fact of the matter is racism is so ingrained in our society that we all have benefited from it, whether we’re aware of it or not. What matters is not what we’ve done in the past. What matters is what we do now to make a better world for the future. I’ve been racist, and I’m sorry. I will do better.