White Privilege. Racism. Black Lives Matter. REDress Project. Colonization.
Conversations about these topics are necessary and uncomfortable.
Why does seeing these words make us initially feel uncomfortable?
Feel Guilt? Feel Shame? Feel Hurt? Feel Injustice?
Perhaps the gift of being asked to stay home for safety from COVID-19, has also given us time to slow down and spend time in our spiritual home inside ourselves. By making time to check-in with now, it is obvious the old “normal” we previously accepted is ready for an update. In the safety of our internal homes it is my hope we can re-imagine a new “now” that is inclusive, peaceful, and accepting of one human-race.
The last few days my newsfeed has been full of close friends, fellow athletes, and neighbours sharing their personal stories and experiences of racism, fear of police, teaching their children safety, and their experiences being judged because of their skin colour. As a female, white, Canadian I can more than ever feel and be aware of the white privilege I have. In hearing the stories and injustices both abroad and in my own backyard, I also feel guilt and shame, that I have not leveraged my privilege to improve the environment for those around me, and that I am not more educated. To those I have let down, I am deeply sorry.
The heaviness, the pain, the injustice, the fear, the racism. Thank-you to the bravery of those sharing their story, telling it straight. I hear you. I see you. I am trying to stand up for you. I feel my own ignorance. My choice and privilege to not have to know. It is my intention moving forward to no longer choose ignorance. Racism is not a subject that is only happening south of the border, or far away. Racism is unfortunately also prevalent in my own back yard in Canada. On the prairies. Towards Immigrants. Black Lives Matter movements. Indigenous Communities. Refugees.
It hurts. It’s frustrating. It’s painful.
How do we make this right? What actions do I take? How to implement change? How does my community begin healing?
I am flooded with questions. How to undo generations of learned hatred? How to teach love, kindness, acceptance, compassion?
How to educate and start the conversations of such sensitive subject matter? How to create a safe space for healing when it has been repeatedly demonstrated racism is tolerated?
How does the awareness start? It already has.
Residential Schools. Colonization. Indian Act. REDress Project. Highway of Tears.
Black Lives Matter. Security. Justice. Fear. MLK Assassination.
Racism is not a new problem. These last few days I am reminded of the embarrassment of my own ignorance. Rather than repressing and ignoring this emotional reaction and surge of public interest, I am acknowledging the elephant in the room. Racism. There is a lot I do not know. This means there is a lot I can learn. The research has begun. Writing is how I make sense of chaos, it’s how I get grounded and reconnect to my self. I feel shame for my silence, my ignorance. I want to be better. Today I am writing and sharing this in an effort to start conversation. To acknowledge there is a lack of education, and accepting now is when this healing and awareness need to start.
After the recent outpouring of news and stories of racism, I found myself wondering, What is the opposite of racism? My own list was: Acceptance, Inclusive, peace, human-race, together.
I am disappointed at how short this list is and that the answer was not immediate. Hoping for more, I decided to ask Google the same question, what is the opposite of racism? The results:
Anti-racism, tolerant, multi-cultural, fair, impartial, unbiased, open-minded, equitable. In a quick search on my phone, it was difficult to find an antonym for racism, meanwhile endless examples of synonyms and definitions of racism populated my search. I did however, find there were others who shared the same question- but also lacked a satisfactory answer. There was unanimous agreement, the problem is racism. The next step, and my question, is identifying and taking action towards the solution. I am left concerned the solution is not as clear as the problem. Is it acceptance? peace? Inclusion? Or is it time to innovate new diction?
I want to honour the injustices of cases like George Floyd, the missing indigenous women of our Canadian community, and other long list of people who have been lost to racism. But I feel crippled in that I do not know how. I am still learning the best way to do this. For me, at this time, it makes sense to share my own learning curve, ask for guidance, and hopefully inspire helpful conversation and dialogue.
Actions to take now:
– Education. The first step to solving anything is knowing what needs to be solved.
– Read. Most of us have access to Google. And access to a library full of written literature and media. Search any of these key words. The resources already exist.
– Listen to those sharing their stories locally. Do more than hear them. Listen. Demonstrate Compassion. Be Kind.
– Choose Vocabulary. Think about the dialogue passing through one’s own lips. What am I saying? Is it helpful? Is it harmful? Is it a joke? At whose expense?
– Stand up and correct ignorance from family, friends, colleagues, teammates.
– Have public conversations outside of social media.
– Research. Investigate locally, how to make a tangible, positive change.
– Ask, does this feel right?
I realize I am not an expert. I realize I am only one person. I am trying to learn. I want to be better. I am certain this could have been written much better, but it reflects where I am at today.
Is there hope? It is my belief hatred is a learned choice of behaviour. Because it is a choice, this means there is also the choice to choose love.
Changing behaviour is undoubtedly difficult, but I remain hopeful it is possible. Let’s make better choices. Together.