So – this was quite a while ago – a colleague at work, another part-timer, who was also going to grad school, got a government grant. She’d be getting $675/month to cover her living expenses. I’d spent five years saving $10,000 to cover my living expenses (hopefully it wouldn’t take more than ten months to get my degree).
She’s ‘native’. Well, she was born in Canada same as me, actually in the same year even, but her parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents were living here before the Europeans moved in.
So, the argument goes, the money is compensation for past prejudice. Okay, then let’s establish past prejudice. I mean, how exactly were her parents and grandparents denied opportunities – that, presumably, my parents and grandparents were not?
She tells me that in high school, she got 50s and 60s. So? She also tells me that she was delinquent. Excuse me, but that’s her fault. How can it be her parents’ parents’ parents’ fault? Did what the Europeans do (deny them jobs?) somehow create a culture of laziness among the people who were here first? And they were powerless to resist that? I attended school every fucking day, did all my homework, and then some, and got 80s and 90s. I guess because I’m white. And lower middle-class. Bullshit!! There were plenty others like me who skipped class. And got 50s and 60s. My brother, for one.
But I was encouraged, she explains. She wasn’t, because school isn’t important in the native culture. Yes, I was expected to go to school every day. And my parents were happy, though not particularly enthusiastic about, my grades, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t say I was encouraged. In fact, I was discouraged from pursuing a graduate degree in Philosophy.
If she attended every class, and did all her homework, and then some, and scored well on a culture bias-free IQ test, and still got 50s and 60s, then I’d say, yeah, okay, you’re a victim of prejudice.
But even if that were the case, how does $675/month compensate for the prejudice? How does it equal my privilege? I got As but that didn’t lead to $675/month. I ended up with the same part-time job she did. The same number of shifts, at the same rate of pay. If she had applied for the same jobs as me and not gotten them in spite of similar qualifications and experience (and opportunity to get said qualifications and experience), then I’d say, yeah, okay, unfair discrimination.
But still, why just give her $675/month? Wouldn’t it make more sense to give her a job that pays $675/month? Doesn’t the hand-out just repeat the past, which presumably is at fault, for putting her in this awful present of hers?