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Perdita Felicien takes aim at white privilege

The Canadian 100mH record holder explains how Canadians can learn, understand and do better when it comes to race

Canadian record holder Perdita Felicien addressed the issue of racism on Instagram yesterday, in response to widespread outrage over the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on Monday while being arrested. The officer knelt on Floyd’s neck, and despite Floyd’s pleading that he was in pain and couldn’t breathe, the officer didn’t let up. Floyd died a few minutes later. The story comes only days after Georgia police reopened the case of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot to death by white vigilantes while on a run in his hometown of Brunswick, Ga. in February.

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💔 ⁣I can’t watch this video showing a police officer draining the life out of George Loyd. Not 10 minutes of it nor 10 seconds. But I’ve read enough about it to be near tears last night in the bathroom. Only to swallow hard the sorrow winding it’s way up my throat. I didn’t want to scare my daughter with my sobs.⠀ ⠀ I save the talk of race & politics for forums deeper than social media. I opt for my kitchen table or phone conversations with my husband & other POC (ppl of colour) because these are arenas where I feel safe. Where I dont have to explain my fatigue, my worry, my rage.⠀ ⠀ It’s self preservation, (this stuff can be exhausting, alienating & triggering.) But it’s not helping the conversation move forward.⠀ ⠀ So I’m interrupting our perfectly curated feeds right now: You’re white, and wondering what you can do to be an ally, to not be a part of the problem? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few suggestions on how you can help people of colour if you swipe left…🖤 #georgefloyd

A post shared by Perdita Felicien | Olympian🇨🇦 (@perditafelicien) on

Felicien is a former world champion and Canadian record holder in the 100mH. She wrote on Instagram yesterday, “I save the talk of race and politics for forums deeper than social media. I opt for my kitchen table or phone conversations with my husband and other POC (ppl of colour), because these are arenas where I feel safe. But it’s not helping the conversation move forward. So I’m interrupting our perfectly curated feeds right now.”

Felicien points out that many white people wonder what they can do to help, and she shared some suggestions:

Acknowledgment

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“You have to admit life is different for people of colour. This video is proof that black bodies are viewed and policed differently. Could you image a non-violent white woman or man with the full weight of a police officer’s body on their neck while they plead for air? It would not happen.

Action

“Speaking to your children as early as possible and throughout their lives about race. If you are an ally you must see colour because our world does. To ignore it is how this continues.

Educate

“Educate yourself on why minority communities are hurt, outraged by this, why Kap took a knee. Read. Learn. Look up books and authors who break it down. Follow social accounts that make this stuff plain.

Understand

“Understand that speaking about white privilege is not being anti-white. If it makes you feel defensive or fragile, ask yourself why another community asking for equality and justice troubles you.

Challenge

Challenge your racist friends, families and co-workers. Shut down stereotypes and racial slurs, denounce misguided opinions. And if you can’t, don’t smile along.”