We now know that systemic racism is largely unconscious because it’s baked into our culture. It took the remains of hundreds of Indigenous and Inuit children to make Canada understand its own systemic racism, and in the US, the death of George Floyd changed how we view race by reminding us of so many other Black men and women who have died at the hands of police.
But these deaths, by craven indifference in the case of Canada’s children, and by craven involvement in the case of America’s Black people, also exemplify the power of systemic denial.
I define it as institutionalized cluelessness on an industrial scale about things that hurt just as many people as systemic racism.
Two recent and egregious examples of systemic denial are ripe for similar treatment. My hope is, what we knew to be true of other parts of our lives, but carefully avoided, will change just as quickly and dramatically as our awareness of systemic racism did. The glare from what we’re now being forced to see simply can’t be avoided any more.
The first case involves sexism in the Canadian military. Or rather, at the very peak of our military.