There is an inordinate amount of time and energy being expended on describing the ‘racism problem’ and deliberately finding instances to prove the point that racism exists, how it plays itself out and who is ‘racist’ and who is not.
Quebec Premier François Legault’s comment that there is no systemic racism in Québec is based on ignorance. Unlike many of his harshest critics, I give him the benefit of the doubt as I don’t necessarily believe his comment is an intentional disregard for the experience of visible minorities.
The position taken by the Premier is a reflection of the varying perspectives we have on history and on the dynamics of race relations.
Furthermore, many of us, Legault included, find it very uncomfortable to listen to the facts and take action to redress racism.
This possibly explains why some of us, when defending the position of one group, we ignore or deny the injustice suffered by others. Sometimes guilt, pain and personal agendas are involved in the positions taken.
In countries and communities where White people are in the majority, many White people don’t understand, nor see the need to understand the condition of some or all minority groups. This is because their interaction with visible minorities is minimal and there are no impactful punitive consequences for being openly racist.
Let’s not allow our preoccupation with anti-Black racism and systemic racism perpetuated by White people to blindside us to racism perpetuated against non-Black people and colourism among Black people. In some other countries, particularly those that were decolonised, and where the majority of people are not White, I’ve seen and heard Black people twist and turn historical facts and make egregious, racist comments against White people and Black persons with lighter toned complexions.
Picking the battles. Some people just won’t ‘get it.’
My experience, particularly when I was studying in the USA, is that there comes a point when one must stop trying to get some people to understand historical facts and the connection between history and current state of race relations and the resulting legacy of social and economic injustice.
My utter frustration with getting involved in reasoning and discussions on racism, with both White and non-White people, has led me to believe that some people just won’t ‘get it.’ Sometimes I have asked myself if it is worth trying.
To survive in North America where race very often contributes to whether visible minorities succeed or fail, I have learned how to survive and thrive. Not taking micro-aggressions personally. Giving people the benefit of the doubt. Assuming ignorance is at the core of biased and prejudicial statements. I have had to act consistently in ways that potentially lead people to question or even abandon their stereotypical beliefs about persons who, like me, have multiple so-called minority identities.
I’ve done this primarily by excelling in my work, getting involved in the community, finding ways of ‘fitting in’ even though I am aware that I am interacting with persons who would be easily labelled as ‘racists.’ All this involves the tireless management of my emotions and reactions to persons who unknowingly, and sometimes knowingly, act in ways that are offensive.
This does not mean that I am compromising who I am, nor am I suggesting that I will always abstain from debates. I have and will continue to provide information on Black history and the Black experience, all with the intention of pointing people – particularly Christians, to our common identity, which is love – our divine heritage, which ought to lead us to strive for the highest good of all people, everywhere.
The way of peace and reconciliation is God’s will for all of us.
I am determined to rely on God’s peace to prevail and heal the wounds of racism that all of us – Black and non-Black people – bear. Jesus offers us peace – not as the world gives, but peace that comes from God, which leads to reconciliation.
When the ways of people please the Lord, He causes even their enemies to be at peace with them.Proverbs 16:7
The way of peace and reconciliation is God’s will for all of us. I am determined to follow God’s will.
My focus now is on working on solutions by helping to create safe spaces to build bridges to spaces that are comfortable for all of us. Some ways I am doing and intend to do this:
- Mentoring Black professionals
- Advising corporations in Canada on the ways to support qualified, capable visible minorities advance to senior leadership positions
- Advocating the dismantling of ethnic enclave congregations in the Anglican Church in Canada, by encouraging persons of all ethnicities, lay people and clergypersons to work together, so that there is no need to create special interest groups that remain on the margins of the established institutions of the Anglican Church in Canada.
Can you see a better world?
Christ in you the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters.
Further reading: Defining my true identity: Society’s assumptions vs my purpose in life