Serving ‘Realness’: A Dialogue on Privilege & Passing

Originally posted on: 2012/06/19

As I write in my bio on the “About me” page, I am the undeserving recipient of many forms of privilege which include: having been born in Canada with light skin, an able-body, identifying as cis, speaking English… and this is not an exhaustive list! It has taken me a long time to understand & acknowledge these privileges for a number of reasons,  some of which because I didn’t have them before in my small town, but I do have them now in “the big city” (ie passing for white).

In my small town, it was fairly well known that I was “Jamaican” and of course, in this country, Jamaican is synonymous with black (which is a whole other kettle of fish for another day). Nowadays in the city I am read as just about anything, but much closer to ethnicities that are now lumped into whiteness (or at least “off-white”) ie Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Lebanese etc. This transition has been a wildly mind-altering experience,  moving from one space to another and “somehow” changing races (which of course speaks to the fluidity and construct of race itself). On the one hand, being surrounded by my fellow people of colour has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and is the biggest reason why I can’t see myself ever leaving. On the other hand, the painful fact that my phenotype (features) betray me is a difficult new reality that I am only beginning to learn how to navigate.

For these reasons and many more, Mixed in Canada & the fantastic folks from The People Project (an organization facilitating innovative arts and leadership opportunities for and by Queer & Trans young people of colour; as well as consulting, training and educating youth service providers and allies around anti-oppression and intersectionality) are putting on a forum on Passing & Privilege of all kinds on Friday, June 22nd, at 598 Yonge St, Toronto, Ontario from 6-9pm. Hope to see you there!

Description: Serving ‘Realness’: A Dialogue on Privilege & Passing
“There is a ‘privilege’ to be able to “pass” as a more advantaged group, such as a light-skinned person of color passing as white, a trans-person passing as non-trans, a disabled person passing as able-bodied, etc. There is also fear about being discovered and disconnection from communities of choice. While passing may be a goal for some because of the privileges it brings, it can also be a disadvantage by erasing other elements of ones identity.
Please note: Dinner Dialogues are meant to provide inclusive and anti-oppressive space for diverse community members. We will work hard as facilitators & community members to prevent and respond seriously to discrimination based upon race, gender, sexuality, ability, language, nationality or beliefs.

Date: Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Time: 6-9pm
Location: 598 Yonge St, Toronto, Ontario

Follow The People Project here: 


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