1. You are not crazy.
2. Being a person of colour is not a pathology, even if you’re told otherwise every single waking moment of your life.
3. History is against you. The institutions are against you even though they espouse the language of inclusion and diversity.
4. When someone commits an act of violence against you, you are not sensitive if you call them out. You are stating a fact: “Please remove your hockey stick from my ass. Now.”
5. This being said, there is nothing wrong with being sensitive. As Winona Ryder said, “I’m so sick of people shaming women for being sensitive or vulnerable. It’s so bizarre to me.” The same can be said for people of colour.
6. As your bruise blooms, know that the pain is real. Someone fucked you up. It is not in your head. You did not invent this for attention.
7. When someone commits an act of violence against you, they are responsible for their mistake. They may make it about your reaction, rather than about their transgression because they are evading responsibility. They are in the wrong.
8. When you call someone out on their violence, and their response is “I’m sorry you were offended” it is as if they never apologized. You may continue to be angry. You are not being petty or emotional.
9. The right response to being called out on fuckery is, “I am sorry. I made a mistake.”
10. When someone doubles down with a racist response when being called out for acting in a racist fashion, it’s not you, it’s them.
11. You may respond to “Can’t you take a joke?” with “Dude, you’re not fucking funny. You’re no Aziz Ansari or Ali Wong.”
12. There are people who will wield the words “free speech” to cut you down when you critique them because they believe they have the right to say anything they want without consequence. You are not afforded this same privilege.
13. If you object to anything they say or do, they will tell you that you’re the thought police. They will accuse you of doing all the things that they are doing. They will accuse you of being a victim while calling you a bully.
14. They think they are good people. In their minds, this makes you the villain.
15. If you stay silent or say the words they want to hear, you will be told that you’re articulate.
16. When they want you to know that they still have power over you even after you have pwned them so hard on national television, they will praise you for being gracious.
17. They believe that you are measuring yourself against their approval, their person, without knowing that the sun has set on that bloody empire. You are woke.
18. The reason why everything feels so heavy is that structural racism exists. It colours every interaction that you have, no matter what you do. It is why you feel powerless. You know that you cannot trust the law or the state to stand behind you even if you’re in the right.
19. In conclusion, they are always telling you that two plus two equals five. You are good at math so they can just fuck off.
(This piece first appeared on Doretta Lau’s blog and was written in response to the recent controversy about cultural appropriation in Canadian literature.)