White privilege is now a part of the Ontario school curriculum. It is taught in teacher training, and is a routine part of anti-bias education. The idea is that white people benefit from unearned advantages based on race. Canada is depicted as a deeply racialized society where people are automatically advantaged, or disadvantaged, by their skin tone, race and (by extension) gender.
Justus and his mom, Karen, were guests this week on Ontario Today, a CBC Radio call-in show that, to its great credit, dared to tackle this incendiary subject. Among the other guests was Arlo Kempf, who has taught anti-discrimination to teachers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. “Adding the lens of privilege implicates everyone in the conversation,” he explained. “We have to look at those invisible spaces of whiteness where privilege goes unchecked.”
Karen Walker disagrees. “If you took out the word ‘white’ and used any other race, it would be perceived as racist,” she said. “It’s stereotyping in reverse.”
I spoke with Ms. Walker after the program. Other parents in the school were also uncomfortable, she said, but were reluctant to speak up. As a dark-skinned person, she felt she could stick her neck out. “A lot of people are afraid to say that this is racism,” she told me. “But it is.”