Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-racism in Canada

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Arbeiter Ring Pub., 2005 - Social Science - 176 pages
Wilmot argues that the participation of white progressives in anti-racist movements and organizations in Canada badly needs an overhaul. With this thesis, she begins her assessment of anti-racist movements in Canada by guiding the reader through a summary of the ugly history and legacy of Canada's racist colonial past, and reveals that racism remains an urgent problem today, despite the passing of centuries. Racism in Canada is inextricably linked with capitalism, class, and sexism, and the state promotes it with its laws that systemically exploit Aboriginals and people of colour, and privilege whites, despite its claim that Canada is a multicultural and democratic nation.

Using concrete examples from her extensive activist experiences, Wilmot illustrates her argument that white progressives who aim to unite with people of colour against racist oppression must examine and possibly challenge their personal, political, and theoretical ideologies and acknowledge their privileged societal position, if they are to translate anti-racist ideas into effective action, and furthermore, help educate other "white folks" into taking up the cause in an informed manner. White leftists must cast aside political sectarianism and engage with Aboriginals and people of colour as equals when they assist with organizing constructive anti-racist organizations and movements. The balance between taking responsibility and taking direction is oftentimes tenuous at best, Wilmot suggests, but it is essential that in the fight against white oppression, white leftists come to the table in solidarity, rather than come as silent aides, or the opposite--come and paternalistically and patronizingly appropriate the organization.

Wilmot devotes a significant section of her book to highlighting and evaluating various anti-racist organizations and anti-racist educational resources in Canada, and she expounds on the various academic approaches to anti-racism: this portion of the book is a valuable tool for both novice and experienced anti-racist activists, and for a general or academic reader

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About the author (2005)

Sheila Wilmot has been a community activist since the 1980s, and has worked in the labour movement as a shop steward and an organizer with low-wage and migrant workers; in a long-term solidarity project with the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico; and in anti-war and anti-racism campaigns in Toronto, Canada. She currently is the manager of a midwifery clinic.

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