In light of recent events, born from not so recent, but enduring ideology, it is impossible to ignore the call to arms (figuratively speaking, of course!) of our fellow citizens.
I see companies pledging to change their recruiting strategies and their marketing campaigns to better represent the diversity of the human race.
All commendable intentions if and only if followed by appropriate actions.
So what is MLKO doing to address racism? How does a one person small business based in a rural Quebec village even begin to showcase diversity when my only model is a good friend that I can only afford to pay in clothing?
Well, I do what I have always tried to do. Lead by example, listen, learn and share my story in the hopes that it will encourage others to listen and share their own stories, whether they carried them across an ocean or cultivated them on the same land for generations.
The word "story", comes from the Latin word historia, which meant "historical account", and in ancient Greek meant "narrative". Our narrative, no matter how different on the surface, is intertwined historically, in ways that can never be undone. But history must be our teacher, not an excuse for our behaviour.
My family emigrated from the Czech Republic when I was 2 years old. My parents first sought political asylum in Austria, where we lived in a refugee camp for a year before getting a visa to emigrate to Canada.
Although being white must have helped ease the burden of adaptation, I realized from a very young age that being different was a threat in the school yard. My adaptive instinct was to blend in as much as possible. My difference wasn’t visible. I was protected. Protected against what, really? Ask a person of colour. I’m sure they have along list.
The fight for racial justice starts at home. It means educating myself in order to educate my children in a way that cultivates their innate curiosity and inclusiveness. For the kids that beat me up when I was young didn’t do it because they were racist, they didn’t KNOW other stories than the ones they were told.
If you know someone who has a different story than yours, ask them over for a coffee on the balcony, and listen, without judgement, but with an open mind. If someone asks you to share your story, do so with no expectations, just an open heart.
The more we listen to each other, the more we learn what thread brought us together, the stronger the fabric of our society will become.