I'm deeply embarrassed and ashamed that it took the horrific death of George Floyd for me to open my eyes and realize that systemic racism is a very real problem. I was under the naive impression that racism was largely a thing of the past, something that only reared its ugly head via irrelevant crusty old men, or small minded rednecks. I honestly thought racism was the equivalent of a grade school bully doing something hateful to make themselves feel powerful. Something that stung and scarred, but you could learn to ignore, brush off, and move on. I was blind to the oppressive systemic racism that is becoming so apparent now.
We have seen many similar events in the past. I saw them as tragic encounters with "bad apple" police officers. I always saw these as isolated one-off events that highlighted racist people and their actions. I didn't see the system that protects these racist actions and oppresses minority communities. I didn't see the forest for the trees.
My eyes are open now, my ears are listening, and my heart aches.
I know at the end of the day these words are largely meaningless. A tiny voice shouting in a large crowd. However, the alternative silence felt wrong. My hope is that my words somehow resonate with someone and inspires them to also take action. Personally, I'm taking action by:
- Donating to NAACP and Black Lives Matter (Toronto Chapter). These organizations are both dedicated to ending racial discrimination of all kinds.
- Committing to be anti-racist, and raising my children to be the same. Being a silent non-racist is not the same as being anti-racist.
- Listening, learning, and growing to be better ally to anyone who is under represented.
Again, these feel like minimal actions to take. They are a very tiny drop in a very large bucket. However, you fill the bucket one drop at a time.