Updated: Mar 18
This has been a tough year. It's my first year of entrepreneurship, and I have been exhilarated and joyous and yet heartbroken and riddled with self-doubt, all at the same time, sometimes in the same day.
I have felt a great deal of (self imposed) pressure; pressure to create exceptional content (not sure I've even done that yet), pressure to do that on time (not sure whose timeline since I am the boss and am my only employee?) and pressure to follow some already established formula.
I tried hosting RURAL TALKS on Sundays, (and I'm going to be doing that again soon) but no more than three or four people would show up - not that there is anything wrong with a small number of people gathering to have a conversation, that's actually fantastic for listening and for all folks getting a chance to speak, I just didn't think there was enough interest at the time to continue.
I've been trying to bring rural-specific issues to the forefront that are being ignored by traditional or mainstream media, but I'm only scratching the surface! There are so many.
What I do know about innovation though, is that you may fall flat on your face many, many times, trying something new, before you hit the mark. I'm still stumbling along.
My goal for this second season of the Clearing a New Path podcast and the weekly newsletter (if you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that here) has been to build a more united, progressive, feminist, anti-racist rural Canada, one that embraces diversity and is rooted in reconciliation.
I send out the weekly newsletter to about 850 subscribers across rural Canada. One of the things I include in each newsletter is acknowledging my white privilege.
A woman recently wrote me a reply and said,
“White privilege? I thought you recognized the true plight of rural Canada but the obvious claptrap in this video says otherwise. Very disappointing.”
I asked her for further clarification because there wasn’t a video but there was a podcast episode. (I also had to look up the meaning of claptrap.)
Her response was:
“I don't think you know what white privilege is. It is working your heart out to try to make ends meet while a corrupt government takes whatever they can in taxes to feather their own nests. The term is offensive regardless of its intent. This type of journalism only promotes division and animosity. The comment is highly racist. A response is not required. I can tell by the article that we are miles apart in our views.”
And so I’ve been sitting in that. Thinking deeply about the comments. This reaction is not unique nor new but I've been trying to hold space for folks who hold opposing views. It's been a sincere challenge.
I’ve been thinking about division and how to bring folks together to help solve common problems in rural Canada. How do I do that, when we are often so far apart? How do we hold space for one another, build trust and work towards common goals?
And then… I watched the documentary, ‘Deconstructing Karen’ on CBC Gem.
While I haven’t read their book yet - White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better - Saira Rao and Regina Jackson get to the heart of pulling apart white supremacy in this documentary. Liberal white feminists (like me) are the most dangerous in upholding white supremacy. We play nice, we uphold capitalist ideals (beauty, weight, hustle, wealth, success, accomplishments, sacrifice) all the while perpetuating the violence against black and brown people by denying it exists and not speaking up about it. We like to think we ‘do good’ but it’s really the opposite. And there are LOTS of us in rural Canada.
Although I continue to go deep inward, I am still racist, have been complicit and have so much to learn and so much work still to do. And, as I come to realize, action to take. It's been too easy to walk away from conflict. That has been what privilege has afforded me (among many other things).
Living in, and doing work in service to rural Canadian communities, I wonder how one of these Race2Dinner events (the basis for the documentary) would go in a rural Canadian setting?
Are we brave enough, vulnerable enough to challenge our own deeply ingrained racism and white supremacy in rural Canada? I certainly have my own work to do but I'm willing to be public and vulnerable about those flubs and missteps, just like I am willing to do that with the podcast and newsletter. It's the only way to make significant change. Many folks aren't ready for that kind of change but that's the direction I feel called to go in this moment.
Care to join me?
(Have you subscribed to the newsletter yet?)