Updated: Jun 23, 2020
My husband, Roland Best, is a Black Canadian. We travelled the world together for a year in 2018, which opened my eyes as to the stark difference in which the world sees and treats us based on our skin colour. When I got home, so many of my white friends were shocked and appalled by some of our experiences. However, our Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) friends were not shocked and nodded in understanding. There is a huge divide of understanding and education that needs to be rectified. I am writing a book about our year off together and started this blog to help contribute to this cause.
Thank you Roland for sharing this piece with us. Your powerful words are so important, especially in such a pivotal time.
Keep Fighting - Black Lives Still Matter
By: Roland Best
The Impact of Peace Rallies
On June 7, 2020, my wife, our two small kids and I, along with over 2,000 people, attended a Peace Rally for Black Lives in our hometown, Victoria, BC.
This type of event, this moment in time and this feeling I have, are all things I have been hoping for my whole life.
(Photo Credit: Vancouver Sun)
It was a very powerful and inspiring event that drove the point home that ALL #BlackLivesMatter. Hearing so many Black people share their heavy stories around the racism that they have faced, and what needs to be done to improve things left me with such an intense feeling of gratitude. I was so incredibly thankful to hear the beautiful voices of so many Black people telling their truths about racism.
So many times, I have felt anger, sadness, hopelessness around racism and have shared my stories and experiences around this topic with many. But at that event, I didn't feel alone in this fight. I felt like I was one of a few people in any given situation (in an office, boardroom, restaurant, at the park, walking down the street, on the bus, etc.) dealing with the issue of racism each and every day.
The weight on my shoulders, heart and mind felt lighter than it ever has, and the power of my voice felt stronger and louder than ever before. The event gave me such a strong feeling of hopefulness—more than I have ever experienced. I felt like I was part of a strong and proud Black community and family working together here in Victoria, where there are not a lot of Black people. That was a real blessing. And I also felt like people gained a lot of important awareness, that they really care and seem to be ready and willing to help in the fight against racism.
(Photo credit: CHEK News)
Continue the Fight Against Racism… Power is Sustained Interest
This is an amazing time in history. There are unprecedented number of people standing up and speaking out about racism. Around the world, people are joining protests and rallies, educating themselves and having uncomfortable, but crucial conversations about racism with their partners, children, family, friends and coworkers.
I have never witnessed this level of involvement before, and I have never seen or heard so many people taking on the responsibility to build the self-awareness needed and the actions required to fight racism.
Racism is deeply rooted in North America. It has devastating impacts. BIPOC and their allies need to take major, long-term actions to achieve significant change. For many, this starts with awareness and education.
I, along with many other BIPOC, do our best to share our experiences and realities on racism, but it is mentally draining. There is an enormous amount of information on racial injustice available online. It's encouraging to see so many allies taking a pro-active role in learning and caring about racism, instead of relying on BIPOC to constantly explain just how bad racism really is.
"What we are doing right now is the first of a million steps required for real change to happen with systemic racism"
The movement we are witnessing right now has the opportunity to create powerful and sustainable change. However, the current fire to want to be a better person and care about ALL people within our society needs to burn long-term. Racism cannot be a fleeting topic on social media or the news for this week, month or even year. What we are doing right now is the first of a million steps required for real change to happen with systemic racism in Victoria, Canada, North America and around the globe. There is so much work ahead to effectively fight racial injustice.
(Roland's Nelson Mandela Black Fist Tattoo)
In a recent conversation I had with my smart, dear friend who is also a Black man. I expressed how worried I am that people might lose that anger, concern and desire to want to get involved, and that the momentum might fade away before things can effect real change in our systems and society. My friend said, “Power is sustained interest." This could not be truer. My Experience with Racism
Racism has been a part of my life from day one. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality for every, single adult BIPOC. We all have a long list of examples and hurtful stories of racism we have experienced over the years from childhood through to our adult years. Common examples include:
Incidences of being treated differently by police officers (the extreme of that being the use of deadly force and brutality)
Security guards constantly following us around a store, museum, or public space
Being targeted for 'random checks' at the airport
People crossing the street to avoid walking by us on a sidewalk
Strangers yelling racial slurs at us
Having our property or cars vandalized with racial slurs
A number of those examples have happened to me not just once, but on a regular basis.
Last year (April, 2019), in Victoria, B.C., on the Easter long weekend I woke up early Sunday morning. I had my 16-month-old son with me as I walked to my car to get something I had left in the trunk. The early morning sun reflected off the hood of the car. Someone had used their finger to write on it. As we got closer, I noticed what was written on the hood, and eventually noticed that it was also written on my rear window. I stopped in my tracks as soon as I made out the word that was scrolled across in big letters, it said “Nigger."
I was extremely angry, but as I looked down at my young Black son, the feeling of sadness was even more intense. It broke my heart knowing what type of world we live in, how much racism there is out there, and that he would have to also face and go through terrible experiences like this in his life. We all need to do better, not just for the future for my son, but for EVERY single BIPOC out there. We ALL deserve racial equality.
As the riots end, protests quiet down, and media moves on, we must sustain our level of interest and intensity.
As the flames go down that were ignited at the start of the protests for the senseless killing of George Floyd, another Black man killed for no reason, I beg all of you to continue to use that fire and passion within you to continue to help BIPOC. Stand strong and be loud allies in this fight against racism.
To help you on your journey, please watch this very informative Ted Talks video called How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time. Then, review this list of great resources and build your awareness on racism, Anti-Racism Resources.
The more you care, the more knowledge you will seek, which will in turn lead you to take more action.
We need EVERONE to get involved and work together in this fight against racism. Use your voice to amplify the voices of BIPOC. When you hear or see something racist, please, do your part and call it out… Enough is Enough.
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