I seen this image on Instagram earlier this week and I could not help but reflect on it. This year we have had so many changes in the world and many of us have been put into very uncomfortable positions. Many of us have lost our jobs, lost people we love, and lost a sense of reassurance. This year is allowing us to learn about ourselves, seek truth and understanding on how we can better ourselves as individuals.
Two weeks ago the world received the news about a man named George Floyd. George was an African- American man who was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. His death became world wide news and protests became the loudest response to Floyd’s death and also towards police violence against black people within the United States. This was broadcasted not only in America but to the rest of the world. The US has been fighting against racism for many years and has been seeking for justice for many innocent lives lost due to systemic racism within the country.
George Floyd’s death allowed the world to reflect on the truth about racism. Many people were involved fundraising for the Black Lives Matter Cause, Donating, and/or coming out to the protests. I know for a fact that racism still exists and is much alive not only in the US but also Canada. Canada does paint more a picture that we more accepting than those of our neighbouring country (the US) but we are far from being perfect.
My daughter and I went to the protest that happened last week. It was the first time that our city held a protest for Black Lives Matter and I felt it would be a great way to expose my daughter to what was going on in our city and to the stories that had been broadcasted about black innocent lives lost in US and the whole world prior to the protest. Although my daughter didn’t really understand the depth of what was going on in the world knew she had a base understanding.
My daughter is young but has already seen and learned that the people in our world may look different, have different thoughts and opinions. She goes to a predominantly white school where minorities of colour are less than 25% percent. Rebecca is the only black girl in her class but she stands proud about her differences amongst her peers. I truly believe that we as people are not born racists and that racism is definitely learned.
I had to tell my daughter about racism when she was in grade one. One day after school Rebecca looking very sad and with tears in her eyes. I didn’t really know what was going on with her but I kindly hugged her and asked her what was going on. As tears streamed down her face she quietly explained how a girl from her class told her that “Black girls weren’t as pretty as white girls”. Once I heard this I immediately felt hurt myself – hurt in a sense that my daughter has faced something that she did not deserve and obvious hurt from the lie that her classmate has told her. As she was telling me I could not help but think who may have taught her classmate that it was okay to say this hurtful statement and how did skin colour come up even as a topic in her grade 1 classroom?
I hugged my daughter and told her to not listen to people and their negative opinions. I had reflect for a second on what I would say to her because I knew this was going to be something she may not experience just a few times and may experience throughout her life. I told my daughter that the colour of her skin makes her special. She is rare and she is beautiful and just like so many black woman in history her skin colour represents strength and courage. I had to tell my daughter that the world isn’t going to be very fair and there are still many changes that need to made in this world for people to see each human life as equal regardless of race, religion, gender, or social class. I had to tell my daughter that this was something that was not okay and that it was something that she had to be vocal about because it was important to remind people that the colour of a person’s skin cannot not validate the intent of their heart. Heart is skin deep and there will be always good people and people in this world but it’s important to be mindful to even those who may hurt you because we may not know what they are going through or where they may have learned the hurtful things they do from. I told my daughter to not let people walk over her and have her voice be heard for what is right and true and to always do it with kindness.
As a single mother to a daughter who is black I feel that it was my duty to research and learn as much as I can to know more about the history and oppression of black people in North America. The movement right now is something that she will be able to look back on and learn from. She has already had story of encountering racism in our own city but from George Floyd’s case the world was allowed to view it and reflect upon what needs to change. Racism has been going on for far too long and these moments are definitely steps towards positive change.
2020 has been a tough year for many people already but I truly believe this is a year of self discovery, development, and change. I am grateful for this year because it is a time to get down to the nitty gritty and start being the change as individuals. This is time to cease the moment when the world has seemed to stop. No, we should not go back to “normal”because the old “normal” of hurt, pride, and injustice did help us. This is our time to make a new change and make a better life for our future.
What are you doing with your time? What will you do today that will make the better place tomorrow?