24 Jul Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
White privilege, while only coined in the 80s by Peggy McIntosh, is a historical and present-day attribute that all white individuals hold, wherein white people benefit from unearned and often unacknowledged advantages. It’s inherently feeling like military and law enforcement officers will protect you. It’s finding the exact products for your hair type and skin tone with ease and at affordable prices. It’s being paid a fair price for your labour. It’s holding on to your culture without government agencies trying to erase it for hundreds of years. In Canada, it means being immune to the threat of residential schools, Starlight killings, and, more often than not, police brutality. White people are able to hold onto the blind belief that everyone has the privilege of being protected by those we were told would protect us for as long as we choose to ignore the truth. It’s a choice given to those with the privilege to ignore racism, both as it has existed and as it exists today.
White privilege allows us to be reminded of and to learn about Canada’s racism while for the rest of society, racism has become a persistent generational trauma that has not been given the chance to heal. To choose to be “colourblind” is to ignore that this is a privilege you hold. Whiteness and white privilege exist whether you want to acknowledge it or not. It’s your responsibility to use it for the better, instead of reaping the benefits without a care for the consequences. Black and Indigenous communities have been routinely disadvantaged and harmed throughout Canadian history. Canadians of colour, specifically Black and Indigenous Canadians, continue to have lower rates of employment in consequence of the deeply rooted racism here. This is outside of the currently increasing rates of police violence, abuse, and killings of BIPOC. Another way of acknowledging your white privilege is to shop and support Black- and Indigenous-owned businesses.
Money holds power, whether it comes to private sector donations or the brand of shampoo you buy. It’s your personal responsibility to research both how the product has come to be and what your money will be used for after you part with it. By supporting Black and Indigenous brands and businesses, you work to close the racial wealth gap that white individuals systemically hold the advantage in. Consequently, people of colour in Canada are less likely to accumulate generational wealth, which commonly benefits white youth today. Your dollar has the power to affect change in your local community and the disparities within it when spent correctly. Supporting Black and Indigenous businesses works to reconcile the past hundreds of years, continuing now, where such businesses were subject to racism by consumers and the government alike. It’s clear the Canadian government hasn’t done enough and using your purchasing power at Black and Indigenous businesses works to redistribute wealth when the government fails to do so.
Local businesses tend to invest in local sports teams, arts, and other initiatives that benefit the community they are in, unlike their corporate competitors. Your money is far more likely to stay within your community if spent at a local store rather than a massive corporation. Corporations tend to give excess funds to law enforcement, political campaigns, and other institutions that shouldn’t be influenced by the private sector. Since profit is evidently more important than ethics for these international businesses, such as Walmart and McDonalds, many feel no reason to disdain from stocking products that are riddled with human rights violations throughout their manufacturing process.
Diverting your money away from racist businesses towards Black- and Indigenous-owned businesses is not the only way, but still an important aspect of acknowledging white privilege and taking action to amend the consequences of it. The need for socio-economic change within Canada is not a fad; it existed before the month of June 2020 and will exist for long after. The tragedies the Canadian government has perpetrated against marginalized communities are too devastating and immense to be encapsulated into a single list, but continuing to put in the effort to understand and address racism and whiteness in your life is essential. Put your money where your mouth is and follow through on your word by supporting businesses that have historically been unfairly sidelined in favour of their white counterparts. Below are the Instagrams of ten of the MUSE team’s favourite Black- and Indigenous-owned businesses or brands in Canada.
Header Image Source: John Holcroft