Carrie Karsgaard

New magazine uncovers subtleties in white Kelowna

A group of university students is asking residents of Kelowna to take another look at how identity is formed

  • Mar. 29, 2011 5:00 p.m.

What does racism look like in Kelowna?

It’s an interesting topic and one a group of UBCO students hope to get residents of this city exploring with a new magazine entitled White Uncovered.

“While a lot of people notice racism when it’s there, they’re not aware of white privilege, which is what our magazine tries to expose,” explained masters student Carrie Karsgaard. “It’s just this subtle, undercover centrality of whiteness—that we’re the norm. We set the cultural rules without even being aware of it.”

Karsgaard penned an article on the television show Glee in the 15-page magazine, examining how the program offers a veneer of multiculturalism, but ultimately leaves all the key story lines to the central white characters.

As wildly popular as the show currently is, it poses an interesting question about our understanding of race, and the magazine does offer more concrete local examples as well.

Natalie Ingram creates a character in a young girl whose father is white and her mother black, and looks at how differently she’s treated on the first day at a new school.

Though entirely fictional, the story is likely all too real for some, Ingram noted, saying the magazine is intended to flush out some of the everyday slights and profiling that go on under out noses.

“We were looking to resist the idea that racism is something that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far away,” she said.

Even the way we look at the issue—generally focusing on the disadvantages of not being white rather than the advantages of being white—shows we really don’t paint our world with a brush that’s truly equal, the group explained.

“Privilege is a less obvious form of racism because it is often unseen,” noted Meaghan Hume in her story Why Canadians Are the Problem.

From the centrality of white history in Vernon’s murals to the racist immigration policies applied to Jamaican workers upon their arrival, the magazine pushes locals to question how the Okanagan understands and deals with identity.

The work can be found online at www.white.markrosebigband.net. Hard copies were made available at a launch party on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com

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