The first time I was representing a client in a criminal proceeding, I asked my client to wear a dress shirt, as he had no suit and tie. The day of the trial, he and I arrived early, and took our seats at the Defense council table. The Crown Prosecutor, being a white guy, came over to our table, stuck out his hand for my client and said, “So, you must be the new Legal Aid Lawyer. Nice to meet you.” Meantime, I’m sitting there in a 3-piece suit, with the Criminal Code, and other legal texts, in front of me but, still, he assumed my white client was the lawyer, and I was the accused.
I was at a conference last week in the health sector. During lunch I was sitting with another Black woman. There were only a few Black people there out of about 150 attendees. A white woman got up and made her way to my table, passing by other tables with white people. She said “oh isn’t the food great?” We replied that yes, it was (in fact the conference had done a good job getting racialized vendors to provide the food). The white woman then said “there’s so much food, did you bring your Tupperware containers? You can take the food with you.” The other Black woman and I looked at each other and told her that we were OK, but she kept reiterating that we could take the food home and said, “I just wanted to let you know because it will all go in the garbage.” Then she left.
She didn’t address the white person at our table about this, or anyone else that was white at the conference. why would she approach us without even knowing us and assume that we would be the ones to take the food home?