Meritocracy or classism is one’s position within the system where this positionality helps one group to oppress others. In the system, one group holds the power because it possesses merit. In theory, such system forms the basis of an ‘equal opportunity’. But, in practice, it just favors the dominant group. Racism is a form of oppression in which one racial group dominates over other (Sensory & DiAngelo, page 100). Race and class are deeply intertwined in making the structure of the social environment. In each class, there are certain expectations and attitudes that people develop to maintain and it is this attitude that intersects with racism. People of the society make these classes and also decide how to make them distinct from each other. Racism is a way to do this by promoting discrimination in the class. However, facing oppression in one area of social life does not “cancel out” your privilege in another; these identities will be more or less salient in different situations. The challenge is to identify how our identities play out in shifting social contexts (DiAngelo, 2006).
I can see a clear intersection of meritocracy and racism by analyzing the history of Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada. Access to economic, political and social resources is structured differently based on the class. Because of this structural division, Indigenous peoples are in lower socioeconomic status which promotes this stereotype, “they need to work harder instead of being so lazy, then they wouldn’t be so poor. There is no ‘level playing field’ between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians as both groups do not share the same level of privileges, freedom, and choice. Just by apologizing on what had happened in the history does not compensate the damage done to the Indigenous peoples. They have not only lost the land but also their language and their culture. Just amendment to the Indian Act, reconciliation and accepting rights to the land title is not enough to compensate the past bad policies and treatments but there is still a need to recognize them as a distinct society. If the French Canadians in Quebec can be accepted as a distinct society within Canada then why Indigenous peoples are not given this right? Is it still not an intention to assimilate them into the Western culture?
Being new to Canada and its politics, I need to dig a bit deeper and then challenge myself to get the true picture of this society instead of just believing what I hear from others. I had the same stereotypical perspective about Indigenous peoples, as I was told until I met an Indigenous person who was just not a fit in the picture that I already had in my mind. I think people, even Canadians, are not well educated about the history of Canada. There is a need for awareness, realization, and acceptance to the distinction and integrity of Indigenous peoples. The social relationships that have been made due the classism and racism ought to be changed if we really want to see everyone equal under the law.