Admittedly, I am not an activist, I don't have the guts for it. I'm typically silent even when it seems I should be vocal, screaming and shaking a fist; But that's not me... until now.
I'm angry, scared, disappointed. Racism, discrimination, murder in the name of the law resulting in riots, protests, civil unrest. What the f*ck, I watched this shit on TV when I was a kid in the 60s. Six year old me didn't really get it. Sixty year old me does. The anger, frustration, indignation. Treated as if we are subhuman. I understand the protests. I'm a Black woman who feels the prejudice, and I know it didn't go away. I also know that the insidious thick slime of hatred seeps deep in our society.
Living in Canada we don't usually experience the blatant and overt racism that we are watching (again) on our screens from our neighbours to the south, however, believe me, it's here and it exists. I was called the "n" word, silently, in a subway station in Toronto. Old man just saddled up to me and whispered with venom. It shook me to my core, so unexpected. There are times today when I literally look over my shoulder, when I feel vulnerable or get that uncomfortable sensation in the pit of my stomach. I've perfected the nonchalant turn of my head to glance left or right when in reality my eyes sweep behind me to make sure I'm safe.
So it's not that I'm oblivious. It's been a conscious choice to not be vocal and to be passive to the extreme, to silently wish for some measure of unity and harmony. I recall the ripples of unease when Black fists pumped in the air. Black Power, I'm Black and I'm Proud, We Shall Overcome. Uneasy feelings because these actions and sayings seemed divisive in our Montréal community with interracial marriages and a seemingly progressive society. The little girl I was felt the simmering anger, the injustices, yet I didn't fully understand. My mother was one of six Black children and was the only one with a Black spouse. When we all gathered at my Granny's house, ,we were a rowdy gregarious bunch, in every shade, black through white, united by love and the Habs.
My family circle is where I learned to be accepting and inclusive. This is why I ache for peace, yearning for a world where we all are just one. I've been delusional.
With racism, oppression, systemic inequality, and violence against people simply because of the colour of their skin continuing in a time when we are supposed to be woke is just beyond it for me. I'm sick and tired of this shit.
While I feel it is time for me to lend my voice to the protest I cannot and will not allow my anger to cause such hatred and hostility that I resort to malevolent words or violence. My parents instilled in me the fact that it was not enough to be good, I had to excel and be better than the norm to survive. My mom always said we needed to rise above the muck and mire. "Don't bring yourself down to their level" she'd say. Protest yes, by all means, however in my mind, riots, violence and destructive behaviour defeat the purpose. We give ammunition to those who wish us down and dead. We incite fearful reaction and retaliation from those who may otherwise be supportive.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: -
"Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impracticable for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way."
I don't know if it will happen in my life time or if as I'm beginning to fear, it will ever happen, but if we are ever going to live as one, we have to find another way.
p.s This is my last blog post for a while. Be well, stay safe.