What is the Opposite of “Racism?”

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. 

What’s next? 

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. 

Starter Resources:

http://www.redressproject.org/

https://www.obama.org/anguish-and-action/

https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/abed101/what-is-reconciliation/

ibrary.ca/services/reconciliation

Sun-Day-Dream

This morning was my best friends birthday and I was unsettled when I woke up in a lull. After a full week and busy yesterday, all I craved was a lazy Sunday, a steady run, and a phone chat to catch up and share her special day. The day started with an uplifting chat and pleasant start, but I caught myself procrastinating- still hoping in a few hours the wind would go away for my run. Realizing lunch had rolled by I finally accepted I wanted more than my short-term comfortable Sunday. it was time to be brave, go into the 70km/h wind, and remind myself despite everything I was procrastinating, it was all going to be okay.

The sun was shining, the wind still roaring. 

I arrived at the empty t(rail) road start-line. My breath was immediately taken away. My lips cracked and my mouth dried out. I started my run, wondering how I was going to get the prescribed work done. Left foot. Right foot. Unrelenting resistance, I was aimed straight into the wind. 

After dodging my seventh tumbleweed five minutes in, I asked the wind head on, Why are you so angry? 

Clearly not interested in conversation, the wind blasted more sharp air onto my face. 

Hmm. I thought to myself, I guess not ready to say.

I carried on running and a few moments later wondered again to the wind, 

Why are you so strong? 

This time the wind answered,

Because I lead by example.

This answer struck a chord of understanding and I unintentionally let out an audible, ahh. I see.  

As I let this answer seep deep into my core the wind continued to test and push my body backward, as if to see if I shared the same resilience, by asking, are you like me

I let out another audible, I guess we’ll see.

Somehow I accepted my fate and found a slow rhythm in my steps to lead me into a runner’s stream of conscious, wondering, how crazy does this make me? Talking to the wind? Maybe I should finally watch Gone with the Wind? Maybe this is the feeling? Ask and you shall receive? Is this the Kumbaya moment coaches send us to the woods for? 

At some point my thoughts were interrupted as I finally arrived at my new workout training grounds: a flat stretch of barren gravel road. I did my drills and workout still into the wind. In case you were wondering, the wind didn’t give up. Neither did I. 

The last part of my run I was instructed to run with the wind at my back. After an afternoon of resistance, tumbleweeds, and eating dirt, it felt good to run fast, with the wind no longer testing me, rather carrying me into a smooth turnover I haven’t felt since being away from the track. I could feel the strength of the wind at my back, and the strength of my own legs as they worked together. Although no other people were in sight, I was no longer alone on the gravel road. Instead I felt the strength of the wind, a new comrade, guiding me home. Despite a ridiculous hairstyle and lull of a start, today ended up being a blessing, and a good lesson learned. In my opinion, I had just had an afternoon to fully embrace what it means to run with the wind. 

Happy Sunday everyone.

Agenda Adjusted

After we emerge from COVID-19 with the common goal of Global Health, I am hopeful for what comes next. Both in my personal capacity as a person and an athlete, but also on the grander scale of our values as a society. 

It’s been an ever-changing last few weeks, and upon reflection, I’m choosing to see a lot of good has come from this new normal, including:

  • A greater appreciation for bringing communities together, especially through the global and local community of sport
  • For the opportunity I have had (and hope to return to) competing as an elite athlete
  • Being in a sport I am still able to competitively train in despite the pandemic
  • In-person time spent with my family
  • Slowing down and listening to music
  • Creating art – innovating in general
  • Time spent to recharge
  • Having quality time going back to my roots
  • Embracing the importance of hope

For anyone who knows me, knows I still carry a paper-copy agenda and write all of my must-dos in here. As discouraging as it was to erase some important dates, I am excited and pleased to rewrite in some big 2021 events. The big ones including July “202(0NE)” Tokyo Olympics, with qualifying race dates reopening Dec. 1, 2020. In addition, Athletics Canada announced Olympic Trials are planned to be back in one of my favourite cities, Montreal next summer. Of course I know these could still change, but for now I find comfort in these plans. 

Since I’ve last checked in: yes, my training facilities are still closed and like everyone else, I train at home or outside on the empty gravel roads/ trails. I can’t wait to get back on the track, but I know that is coming, hopefully in time for some warmer weather too. In the meantime, I’ve stepped up my mental training, and am pleased with the works in progress.

The New Normal: There have been a lot of phone + video calls to catch up with my regulars, but I am so happy to be home-based in Regina. Although a good handful of people still cringe at the thought of me choosing Regina before the chaos, there’s no place I’d rather be. After having so much of what I want over the last few years, it feels good to feel grounded and finally have what I need.

My focus remains steady, and the agenda has officially been adjusted- (for those that don’t know, this mean business)! Now back to washing my hands, running the grids, cleaning my cell phone, and building my empire.

#ReginaAthlete #RunRegina #TeamAlger #WashYourHands