The anti-racism rally in Niagara-on-the-Lake last week brought out about 400 people to stand in solidarity with black members of our community and around the world.
It was sobering to hear stories of racism right here in our town, yet inspiring to see how many people, black and white, stood up as allies with love in their hearts, even if many of us will never truly understand what it’s like to feel discriminated against.
Kudos to the speakers, organizers and those in attendance. When our voices are heard, we can make a change.
What, sadly, isn’t inspiring is some of the criticism directed toward the organizers and participants, or the comments on an online video Niagara Now shared of people marching along Queen Street, or the ignorance displayed in using terms and phrases that are outdated and hurtful to the cause of equality.
The people who organized the rally, white and otherwise, had great intentions and should be congratulated for stepping up to make it happen. They made it clear from the start that they wanted no credit or kudos for doing so and refused to have their names published as a result.
We heard from multiple members of the black community, including those who spoke at the rally, that they appreciated it and were honoured to be part of the event.
That’s a good deed, with good intentions.
It was disconcerting to read many of the online comments, mainly by people who didn’t attend the rally and march.
Making statements like “All lives matter” misses the point of the lived experience of black people and what they continue to endure. And referring to black people as “coloured” is not acceptable in 2020. Being ignorant to how and why something is hurtful, wrong and offensive isn’t an excuse to continue doing it.
Instead, let’s educate ourselves. Let’s listen and be accepting.
Whether intended to be hurtful or not, there are terms and actions that make people uncomfortable, and as with any minority group, it is up to them to decide what offends.
They’ve lived it. We haven’t.
It’s up to the rest of us to implore kindness, compassion, to educate ourselves and be open to change — and we shouldn’t be scared of change, not if the result is taking a step toward all humans being treated as equals.
There is simply no room for prejudice and hate in this day and age.
To the people who consider themselves “not racist” but find themselves unhappy to change something as simple as the words they utter, consider how that might make you seem racist.
The world is moving past you and one day the things you’ve said might come back to haunt you.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org