An open letter to Jim Harrison, fellow white guy

Two & Out
By James Peters
November 4, 2016 - 9:57am Updated: November 4, 2016 - 3:06pm

KAMLOOPS — Hi there, Jim - or Mr. Harrison.

I read your column on Halloween costumes earlier this week with great interest.

I understand you have some angst over the evolution of racial and cultural understanding over the past few decades.

Things are tough for white guys like us.

Well, that's not totally true.

We do still sit atop the majority of the world's power structures, we're given preferential treatment by individuals and institutions alike, and frankly, we're paid more than anyone else.

Maybe things aren't that tough.

But your column seems to suggest we're really misunderstood when we choose to dress up in blackface or wear a First Nations headdress.

You equate outrage associated with those costumes with outrage that may stem from dressing up as a certain profession, such as doctor or housewife.

The problem with that logic is that profession and personal identity aren't the same thing.

You mention watching Amos and Andy didn't turn its viewers into racists, but certainly we can understand what was inherently wrong with shows like that, and agree that it shouldn't be repeated in 2016.

I guess we need to understand that we white guys don't get to pick what is offensive to other groups of people.

It's difficult, I know.

Dictating how other people should feel is kind of our thing.

We've been doing it for centuries.

But if a group of people say "my culture is not a costume," we have to listen.

Listening is what we do in a progressive society, the root word there being 'progress,' something we should all strive toward.

I hope you won't take offense, but perhaps next Halloween I'll dress up as a longtime Kamloops radio news director.

The only problem is, I don't know if I'll be able to breathe with my head buried in that much sand.

Carry on, fellow white guy.

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