I haven’t written on the topic of racism and not because the topic has dissipated from the forefront, mostly because it is exhausting to discuss with people who clearly want to retain the superiority and supremacy of its existence. The George Floyd tragedy provided the impetus for black equality rights to re-emerge once again. And yet, that incident, also uncovered another reality that is obvious to black people………………. we are not equal.
The implementation of affirmative action in the United States is indicative of a known broken system. In Canada, after the George Floyd incident, there was a begrudging acknowledgement that our system was also broken. And then we saw an influx of recruitment and selection processes underway for “Diversity and Inclusion” positions in every sector.
It was shocking to me because what it blatantly signified, is that you don’t know how to be inclusive, although our landscape has significantly changed- You are recruiting for an individual to show you how to be humane? So, what you are saying is that you need to create a position whereby an individual or team can hold you accountable to a policy that this position will have to create. If it sounds convoluted, its because it is. I am not sure why this is blatantly offensive to me.
I was having the conversation with my son today, which is also a double-edged sword, as it is great to have the ability to gain a perspective from a young black 21-year-old male, it also saddens me that we are having these needed conversations in the present tense.
I tried to make sense of it, on one hand, we realize that racism is systemic and entrenched in our society for generations and worse for African Americans/Canadians because of slavery. When an entire race is enslaved and then a system is created to ensure that equality is never achieved, can we not please admit- the entire system is broken?
Where you have to tell your children that life isn’t the same for them, that they have to be the best, in everything just to compete and if by chance they do “make it” in whatever field they have chosen, you will be alone, or you may have one or two others that look like you. Where the subliminal message is now in subtitles on a constant loop- We are not equal.
And its palpable.
It was on display for the world to see with the “freedom Convoy” -allegedly fighting for “our freedoms” up to this day, I do not know which Freedoms they were fighting for. And yes, I know that is an unpopular opinion. Oh well! All I know, is that there would be no way, that a racialized group, could announce their plan and block borders and pariliament for three weeks, but I know optically what the predominant race was, so it was not shocking. And what does it show again…… We are not equal.
Even in war, evidence was shown that black people could not leave, and certain countries were not allowing them entry. Journalist were fumbling over their words when reporting the news. And yes, there were even subtitles attached, to display the racism and did it make a difference? No.
Which brings me to the most recent event of the racially motivated shooting in Buffalo of 10 victims. I don’t even know what to say. The fact that an 18-year-old is malleable to that much hatred should demonstrate the obvious. We are not equal AND The system is broken.
So today, when I was speaking to my son about all of this, and the perpetual microaggressions that we are taught to live with. To the point where other racialized groups are also using racial slurs. A close family friend told me that during Black history month in her son’s school, a twelve-year-old was told by another twelve-year-old racialized student to “go pick cotton”
We are not equal, and the System is broken.
This is happening.
Its weird, I never had to teach my son to be humane, or not to offend people. But I have had to teach him what people may call him, or what they may say. Imagine having to tell your child that he needs to excel in school to change the alleged stereotype, that’s a lot is on his shoulders. That’s a lot of pressure. And not to hand down the generational trauma torch, but it was one bestowed on me when I was 7, when my dad said, “you have two strikes against you, you are black and you’re a woman- so you better get your education” Unknowingly, that statement subconsciously changed me in a lot of ways. That wasn’t my dad’s intent of course, to crush my childhood dreams, it was his responsibility as a parent, knowing the reality of the world we live in and understanding that I was embarking on an unfair playing field- that was 1976. Why is this antiquated way of thinking still relevant and imperative in 2022?
Getting back to the conversation with my son, I try to understand things that are illogical to me with analogies. Because my son’s goal is to be a doctor, I tried to base my analogy in medical terms (disclaimer, I have no medical background, so brace yourself). We understand that racism is systemic. So, let’s say you need a kidney transplant because your kidney is not functioning. The treatment while you wait is dialysis. Dialysis removes toxins from the blood in people whose kidneys are not functioning. So, the doctor understands that the kidney is not functioning and preventing the body from operating normally and he says lets give you another kidney, we won’t hook it up or anything and we will keep that old kidney in there also, because optically we have fixed the problem- Good luck! Well systemic racism is understanding that there is a problem with the body and continuing with dialysis without ever removing and replacing the diseased kidney. (Hope dialysis can work forever and that extra kidney causes no concerns!)
We know there is a problem, but we keep trying to fix it. When your car has reached the limit, your mechanic tells you, to throw in the towel, the car is irreparable and we accept the information and get a new car and scrap the old one. Why do we keep trying to fix a system that is broken? Time to scrap it and find a new one~
There is a crack in the foundation of a building, that cannot be fixed, and we keep fixing it, hoping that this time it will work and although the crack is getting bigger and is now visible, we keep filling it in and hoping it the entire building will not fall. And although floors are collapsing, we just add a policy or focus group or throw in more representation in films, news, and commercials and that will fix it. Oh, better yet, lets appoint the racialized person to a diversity & inclusion position, so they can teach us how to act appropriately.
In today’s society where it’s offensive to assume an individual is a specific gender, and email signatures have to spell out what pronoun is acceptable to use as not to offend, I wonder when the day will come where I can also add (prefer not to educate you on why what you said was racist), on the signature of mine.
End of rant!