I am excited to be launching my first-ever blog! This is the place where I plan to post photos, comments about events I will be attending, my take on current affairs, and any exciting news as I start my journey as a writer.
What experiences led me to create the world we see in Spindrifts?
For most of my academic career, I was an outsider: one of two women on a team of thirteen in a woman-dominated discipline; then a bilingual Anglophone working in French; next, a settler working along side First Nations educators and wise Indigenous teachers, and so on. From these experiences, I learned a great deal about the importance of respectful communication, being always mindful of being sensitive to the ways my comments might be understood, and healthy boundaries: being clear in my own identity and place as an invited outsider.
Working closely with BIPOC students and colleagues, I also observed the racism, discrimination, and inequities that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour experience in Canada because there were times I was with them when such racism occurred; for example, a restaurant closing an hour before their usual time when we arrived.
Then there were also many examples of micro-aggressions I observed when with colleagues and friends; occasionally some were directed to me when people made assumptions about me based on the work I was doing. One time, I was asked by the First Nations working group to speak to French media about the launch of the Indigenous social work program. The next day I ran into a French colleague who commented that he didn’t know any “other” First Nations people who spoke French so fluently outside of Quebec. (This occurred years ago). I was shocked that he assumed I was First Nations, when I so clearly am not, and replied in French, “That is a huge compliment however am I not First Nations, and I’m actually a bilingual Anglophone.” Another time an Anglophone colleague commented that I spoke English fluently and without an accent—he assumed because I spoke French I was Francophone. These kinds of assumptions tell us a great deal about the ways people judge others without really knowing us. In both cases there was marked patronization in the way the comments were delivered.
These two experiences, and many others, gave me opportunity to reflect what it would be like to hear that tone of superiority and to experience the racism had I been First Nations, Black, or Francophone, or the homophobia if my identity was one of LGBQT2S+. It was safe for me confront the mistaken identity by questioning the basis of their assumptions and challenging their inappropriate comments. This was a privileged position to have, and I know full well that many BIPOC and others do not have this same safety to speak up when dealing with racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination.
Welcome to the blog of A-M Mawhiney. I am the author of Spindrifts - A futuristic fantasy to inspire and give hope to all who are interested in changing the world, now available to order from most major online retailers here.