Colour Outside the Lines #18: (Over-)Policing Ourselves

Welcome to Colour Outside the Lines, The Avocado’s weekly discussion space for people of colour.

Thread Rules

  1. We ask that only those who identify as people of color participate in this discussion. White Avocados, while valued members of this community, should remain in ‘lurk’ mode.
  2. Shaming and hateful speech are unacceptable.
  3. Please keep potentially traumatic content safely behind spoiler tags.
  4. Nobody on this thread is more or less a person of color than anyone else. (We will not set clearly delineated boundaries on who qualifies as a ‘person of color.’ As a starting point, this thread uses the definition of ‘non-European heritage of sufficient prominence to affect one’s navigation of a society built on white normativity.’ However, we recognize that there are identities which skirt either side of the divide. If people feel that they meaningfully experience the identity of being a person of color, then they are welcome to participate.)
Additional Guidelines

1) The term ‘people of color’ encompasses a broad range of experiences. We are not a monolith. Therefore, we ask that participants respect each other’s experiences during the discussion, and refrain from promoting one particular experience as being more true to our shared identity as people of color. Furthermore, we ask that participants attempt to voice their own experiences as opposed to generalizing on behalf of the community as a whole. Of course, there are some exceptions. Participants are welcome to interrogate how shared experiences like marginalization help to forge common bonds within our community, but please remain courteous towards others in doing so.

2) We ask that participants remind mindful of the following: we would like to keep this space as safe from white privilege as possible. Even people of color can help to perpetuate systems of white privilege. For example, people who enjoy passing privilege may not understand the experience of being a visible minority. What people of one ethnicity know about people of another ethnicity might operate through the proxy of whiteness. We simply ask that a conscious effort is made to acknowledge white privilege. Likewise, we ask that visible minorities consider the unique challenges of passing privilege when posting. Again, we are only asking that participants keep this in mind while commenting.

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The Prompt

This week, COtL turns inward and asks us about our own communities. Within a community, there’s often a pressure to conform or to adhere to cultural norms. This pressure can be subtle and minor, but it can also be overt and even lead to ostracism. Have you ever felt the pressure to act more like a “typical” person of your background? What form did that pressure take?

As always, the prompt is just a suggested discussion topic. If you’d like to discuss any other racial or ethnocultural issues, this is your safe space.