Fingers crossed that we’ve turned a corner. What a memorable past 3 years these have been since the pandemic started. We have done very well as a school district and a province. Yes, there have been a few stumbles along the way, but overall, we’ve come through things really well. Not bad for not having ever gone through something like this before.
Yet, there is still criticism about how we handled the pandemic (perhaps some of it justified) but there has also been a lot of personal and negative attacks. And in particular, social media, has been the platform where comments can be ruthless, insensitive, often misinformed and sometimes threatening.
Here in BC, Dr. Bonnie Henry (the provincial health officer) has been a regular target of these attacks. Throughout these past 3 years she has remained a beacon of calmness, intelligence and thoughtfulness. You may have disagreed with some of her decisions, but she had the best interests of the people in her sightlines– and she did so professionally and consistently. In my eyes, she is a hero. And yet, there has been a rather continuous stream of callous, personal attacks on her character — much of it through social media.
This is a difficult topic — both to discuss with you, but also in finding the words to do so. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve deleted whole paragraphs and started again.
How do I communicate what I really want to say about this topic?
How do I make it relevant?
How do I keep it succinct yet powerful?
I’m not sure I’ve got it right, but I’m sharing it now anyways. Racism needs to be acknowledged, understood and challenged.
It’s time to talk!
How about a few examples of racist comments. Racism can be subtle or ‘hit-you-between-the-eyes’ bold:
Minimizing racism by comparing it to other issues:
“It’s true that maybe they’ve experienced racism, but I’m ________ (fill in the blank with any particular group) and feel like I’ve been discriminated against as well.”
“These people just need to get over it. I can’t believe they are still talking about this after all these years.”
And some are really ignorant:
“I feel disrespected as a white person. It’s time for me to stand up for my own rights.”
Racism is a topic that can alienate people — likely because they don’t feel like they are part of the problem, or they feel that racism really isn’t an issue. And, therein lies the big challenge — having people actually acknowledge that racism is real and that they need to play a role in eliminating it.
If you are steadfast in your belief that, “I’m not racist, nor do I do things that could be construed as racist”, then this post isn’t for you, because you’re not ready to be part of the solution — your mind is closed.
But, if you’re open to really exploring it then let’s begin …
My daughter is studying to become a counsellor. She has an innate ability to connect with others, and in particular with children — I view her as a “child whisperer”. In her studies, they have been discussing microaggressions and she thought it would make a great blog topic. She was right!
Let’s start with a definition:
MICROAGGRESSION – A term used for commonplace daily verbal, behavioural or environmental slights, whether intentional or not, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative attitudes towards stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups.
Remember, they can be intentional or unintentional slights. The important part is that they communicate negativity.