That’s how 2020 has been thus far.
Unfortunately for me, my year would start off with the loss of my mother who had a twenty-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease and passed away on January 13th. That alone was traumatic, as I was her informal caregiver for the entire period. Then, just as I was trying to process the loss and get into a new normal, along comes the pandemic.
Mind you, looking after my mother would prepare me for the social distancing that came with the pandemic, as any caregiver will know I am sure, that the role is completely isolating on a good day. There are not many people around when someone is sick, so that part didn’t bother me. It gave me time to process, to really think and to figure out methodically what my next steps would be.
Then came several racial infused incidents in the United States including the horrific public killing of George Floyd. What came after, was hundreds of years of rage that poured over into many cities, many states and then, many countries.
Let it be clear, that I reside in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. The after effects of this horrific event shocked me or maybe shock is an inappropriate word. I suppose I always knew there were some people that were not overtly racist, but clearly were behind closed doors. I had several draining conversations on Facebook back and forth, bringing up historical facts on revolution and protesting, all the while stating that I did not support rioting and looting of any sort. I wondered to myself why I was debating this.
The debate continued and became extremely disturbing, the issues were being convoluted. So I will be clear- I am against Police Brutality of any race, NOT against the police. (There are many good police officers) I am against Racism of any form and I am perturbed that in 2020, equal rights still do not exist. When the killing of George Floyd took place, (admittedly, I cannot watch the video) and close friends openly discussed their feelings, the triggers that happened after, the name calling, the non-inclusion, the feelings of less than came to surface yet again. I thought perhaps we were in a paradigm shift, that because it is a global discussion, maybe, just maybe things can get better. (Forever the optimist)
I was called a “victim” on a thread, where I tried to educate someone, there were people that posted that George Floyd was a criminal and got his karma and many other things that were said. Most people went back to posting their meals and got on with their regular scheduled program. (Well it doesn’t affect me personally, so – next) This took me a long time to process, did you not see what I saw? What alarmed me were the many people that remained silent.
I am not a bandwagon jumper, and I have admittedly and openly stated that I have received racism on both sides (white and black). However, when an injustice is done and you don’t speak up, you are just as bad. So it should not matter what race you are, when you saw the chain of events that happened, and then you hear the stories of inequality, systemic racism, and some of your own friends or family that have experienced it, are you that desensitized?
It saddened me to have to have the talk with my son, that if he gets stopped by the police, just be super polite. Have I ever had an incident with the police? No, I haven’t. I have never been pulled over or questioned or anything, but that doesn’t mean that I am ignorant to the fact, that he may. I do not know the statistics on why this happens, and I don’t want to know. So that wasn’t an invitation. I do know that it is a reality. My son will not be judged by his character, that he is an A-student, well mannered and what I think a great human being; He will be judged on the colour of his skin, that is all. – think about that. But of course, how can you? Many of you couldn’t care less- because – it is not your world.. To truly understand it requires empathy, and what I have seen as of late, not many of the people that I know, have any.
Imagine in 2020- this is what you have to tell your child.
When i shared this video on my wall- you would not believe how many close friends I know- reshared it- because they can relate- and they have had similar conversations with their children. Think about how worried you would be everytime your son or daughter goes out- because their skin colour -they are immediately disadvantaged.
I have known a few people, myself included that had to go to therapy due to the draining conversations surrounding this topic and the blatant racist comments that continue to be said. To know that this hatred is deep rooted and that no amount of education is going to dilute the ignorant beliefs that some of you hold. The sad part is some of you are my age, which means you were in the same school or perhaps the same class as me, all the while secretly hating me, not for me as a person, but my colour.
I have had several in-depth conversations with close people I know and people that care about me and how this has affected me. However, the after effects have left me a bit despondent. I would challenge anyone that I know, to please delete me if you have these beliefs.
I have a close friend- Peter Rattan, we met in high-school (St. Thomas Aquinas). I was 15 and he was 13. We would later find out that we both were from Trinidad, and that his father and my mother grew up on the same street in Trinidad.
That friendship has stood the test of time. He is like part of my family, a little brother. We have in-depth conversations on many topics, I read his post on Facebook the other day on the topic of George Floyd -I will leave you with it.
Recently I was engaged in a rather frustrating chain here on FB. I don’t have the energy to unpack it all for everyone with the back and forth, rhetoric, misinformation, left vs right, comments that are being thrown at me.
Here is my response and please feel free, those of you who have shown your true colours to unfriend me without any malice on my part.
I think this entire chain is becoming convoluted by left/right sentiment, race, personal and emotional viewpoints.
Disregard Floyd’s history, his race, systemic racism, police brutality, criminal intent, everything.
Look at the situation without any of those biases.
Andrew Hosie stated white people are 28 times more likely to be killed by a black man. I’m not sure whether that is actually true or not but I’m sure depending on our political viewpoint we can all find statistics to substantiate our narrative.
One thing I’ll say about that, minorities are always placed in that negative stereotype almost as a default by white people. They have to prove they’re not part of that statistic but are looked upon that way until they do.
Andrew and I have mutual friends on here who are black. They become exempt from that stat because those of you who subscribe to that viewpoint know the individuals, but what if you didn’t?
They’re still the same people, but you not knowing them they automatically fall into that category of a potential threat. If an everyday person feels that way, imagine a police officer who subscribes to that belief with power to execute whatever they want to a person without knowing anything about them, just a presumption of violence?
Every black man they see is vulnerable to that stereotype, good, bad, innocent, criminal, etc. They’re treated all the same way.
Now pick any friend on your FB friend list who is black and picture them in the same scenario as Floyd, under that knee for 9min. Without any of the information or misinformation that’s going around.
Go back to just the first video that went viral, where no one knew who anyone was in it. Try to clear your head of political, personal, any non-objective views. Just simply the incident. Put anyone you know in that spot. Was just the incident on its own right or wrong? Excessive, necessary?
If you looked at that incident as nothing was done wrong, there’s no reason to debate anything further because that becomes a futile debate. But the vast majority of the world saw something so insidious, so passively violent, so wrong. It was completely unnecessary for any of that to happen after a man was handcuffed, face down on the ground and non responsive. How anyone feels about him personally is irrelevant.
I do find it strange that we all have mutual friends on FB, quite a few who are black and none of you stopped to think how offensive your comments are to them. This is the epitome of white privilege. You can say whatever you want with impunity or regard for even your friends whom are minorities.
I responded to this chain because of a comment I found strange that “Floyd received Karma and we’re all better off now that’s he’s dead.” But after short dialogue with Andrew I understood the context by which he made that statement. It’s based on Floyd’s criminal history. Again, whether that is true or not I can’t say, but either way, if you believe that, then you will lack empathy for someone based on their past.
Cory Baylis has a personal attachment to this, and his responses whether he realizes it or not are emotional ones.
I do not subscribe to the notion that all police are bad but I do have police officers in my family as well as friends, and that blue wall of silence is a real thing, being part of a brotherhood. It’s a cult of loyalty, neither good or bad, it just is. I also see the difficulty in telling someone in a privileged position that they are in fact privileged because to them it’s just normal, but that normalcy for them because of that same privilege is what set the standards for everyone else.
Everyone is arguing viewpoints based on so much irrelevant information.
I will leave everyone with this and use Andrew’s 28 more times stat.
If that’s true and he definitely subscribes to it because he said, based on that, “Who do you think I’m going to be more careful of.”
Then given that fact, as difficult as this will be for some of you to process – if you don’t know me and I would automatically fall in that 28 more times to attack a white person category, then I could have easily been that man under that knee. Because I’m presumed to be violent without knowing me. I’ll say it again, I COULD HAVE EASILY BEEN THAT MAN UNDER THAT KNEE.
Would you have the same viewpoints? I’ve never been in trouble with the law, I come from a good, nuclear family, I’m an educated man, and I treat everyone with the same level of respect I expect.
Are your viewpoints the same? Did I deserve to die simply because I fit some misguided stereotype of a violent person?
I’m not tearing down anyone’s perspective, I’m just trying to relay that everything everyone is talking about is irrelevant. Forget his history, race, or any preconceived notions. When we all saw that video, we didn’t know any background about anyone in it.
The kid that shot up a church killing all those people in the name of white supremacy, did we dissect his history? Did it create all this debate? Does anyone even remember that kid’s name? Does anyone even know what the outcome was for him murdering all those people? Should I find some stat about the high percentage of serial killers being white to prove an irrelevant point? And then use it to now state I should fear all white men? Sound ridiculous? Probably as ridiculous to black men who read that they’re 28 times more likely to be violent stat.
For doing what that kid did, murdering innocent people in church of all places, he was taken through a Burger King Drive thru because he was hungry while in the police car. George Floyd, irregardless of past history was killed for buying a pack of cigarettes with what was suspected as a fake $20 bill.
See any disparity in that? Murder gets Burger King, fake $20 gets Murder?
Again, forget everything you know or think you know.
Was killing a man with your knee on his neck, right or wrong?
That is the bottom line, everything else is rhetoric. It doesn’t matter what stats, percentages, articles you all dig up. You’re missing the point.
I don’t think anyone I’ve had this dialogue with are necessarily bad people, I don’t think all police officers are corrupt, I’m not condoning a past criminal history, I don’t think all white people are evil. The people I love the most come in all different colours, and for me that includes everyone. I just think we’re all seeing life through a different lens, based on our experiences.
If I’m willing and able to listen to your views and trying to understand where they come from without hostility, anger or hate; please try to understand mine, ours and theirs. It comes from a marginalized place where people are unnecessarily dying. (Peter Rattan)