The death of George Floyd has stirred the world into unrest, in a way I have never experienced before. Let’s talk: How is one man’s death causing such an uproar in all areas of society? From world-wide protests to government town halls, to behavioural changes in the private sectors?
Floyd was an ordinary African-American who lived in Minnesota, USA. But, he represented many black men who have been killed by police officers’ brutal use of force. It makes us take a step back and ask, what is really going on? Let’s talk about that one ism. I mean the truth is, not because we don’t talk about something means that it’s not worth talking about. Now, Floyd is making the world have conversations. For us to be transformed and to have better relationships with each other, we need to talk.
See Shauna’s Blog: There is Hope
Let’s talk about how we condone racism. It’s not an exciting topic but we have to swallow our fears and take the first step. Either we do nothing when it happens, or we benefit from someone else’s demise. But, all of us have to stop and think. Stop being naive, stop acting in apathy, and definitely stop benefitting from someone’s loss. Let’s talk because it’s been time for change. Time for us to wake up, and realize that racism doesn’t come with a label. It comes with a subtle feeling that something isn’t right. What do you do about it?
Let’s talk about why.
I was one of approximately 20 students in a Public Administration program at Seneca College. The program had an internship component, which was why I chose to take this graduate certificate program in the first place. Four months into the eight-month program, and out of about 20 students, the only seven white students were selected for the internship. What was their selection criteria based on? We were not given an explanation. The rest of us who were not selected did nothing about it. Let’s talk about why. We felt that we would be punished (i.e. getting a bad grade). And, to be honest, I wasn’t even sure what I should have done. So, I did nothing. We did nothing.
Recently, I went grocery shopping at my local Food Basics. I saw an older white staff member standing in front of one of the aisles looking down at the end of the aisle. The staff’s target was a black young man, early twenties, searching for something on a top-shelf. As I made my way to the cashier I wondered, was that racial profiling? I did what many Canadians would do. We acknowledge it, but we do nothing. I was not the one being a racist, and I was not the one experiencing it. But, I was a witness. So what is my role?
Racism isn’t an annoying fly buzzing around a room, it’s more like carbon monoxide. We may never truly know on the onset when we are experiencing racism, or when we see it happening to someone we know. But listen to your gut. Trust it. And speak up. We all have a role to play when it comes to racism in our society, and playing a blind eye, or feeling sorry for ourselves, is not a role. We must act. And to start let’s talk.
George Floyd’s death has stirred the world into a conversation. Join one of the many anti-racism town halls happening around your city, in your unions, workplaces, or political offices. Ask questions. Conversations require honesty and non-judgment from all parties. So let’s talk because this is the first step towards transformation, and to have healthier, sustainable relationships with each other.
Join Marlo Clarke, an international public speaker, on July 22 at 2 pm. He will discuss his experiences as a black man living in his home country of Barbados as well as the USA and the UK. To register click the link below.
Shauna graduated with an MBA in General Management, a graduate certificate in Public Administration, and an Honours B.A in Criminology and Political Science. Currently, she works as a Court and Client Representative at the Toronto Superior Court of Justice, writes for online magazines, and serves at the Jamaican Canadian Association. She loves family-time, travelling, writing, and staying fit.