“Being better tomorrow than we are today” is something I talk about a lot — in my daily interactions, my blog posts, in all sorts of meetings …
But, what does it mean to be ‘Better’?
I explored this this topic the other day with our school trustees and thought it might also make for an interesting blog post. So, here we are …
When I engage others in conversation about our road to improvement, I reflect on a reminder I have above my desk about the need to move forward:
“It’s OK to be where you are right now. It’s just not OK to stay there.“
These concepts of ‘being better‘ and ‘finding ways to move forward‘ form an important part of my mindset on personal and organizational growth. But, the question still remains … what does BETTER actually mean?
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.
How often do you think about the colour of your skin?
If you’re white like me and live in Canada, my guess is that your answer is probably rarely. I may think about my whiteness every few weeks or months. If you ask a person of colour this same question you will likely hear they regularly think about their skin colour — perhaps every day. The reason is that they live in a world of ‘white privilege’ and wonder whether the words, actions or decisions by others have anything to do with their skin colour.
When they apply for a job, was the decision about who was appointed based on the colour of their skin?
When someone is rude to them, was it because they aren’t white?
When a person cuts in front of them, was it because they don’t look like most people in their community?
I don’t wonder whether my skin colour is the reason I am stopped at the highway check stop, if someone doesn’t speak to me in the store, or if I am bypassed for service at a coffee bar. There are surely reasons for all of these things happening, but it’s not because I’m white.
Maybe you’re thinking that I’m exaggerating or perhaps even completely wrong. If that’s the case, you’re wrong. Racism exists — it’s in our stores, in our offices and in our schools. People of colour experience it — they also think about it regularly — more than a person who is white.
“OK, so we still have a long ways to go in our society to build equality. I get that. But, that doesn’t make ME a racist. I don’t do anything because of a person’s skin colour. I’m not part of the problem.”