I have avoided this topic on so many levels. I hope to sit in a seat of neutrality to invoke conversation and accountability. I, like most people, take a claim of civility and think that I fall into a category of consideration, respect, gentility and so much more. I did learn a long time ago that life will always show me more areas of growth. I am not an expert the matter of racism. I am a student of life.
I will apologize in advance for those I may trigger. I will also say with authority that I do not get up on any given day with the intention of causing another human harm. I am grateful in advance for the people who will comment on my shortcomings and show me more areas I can improve.
I will do my best to keep this simple. Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. I will say that I, at times, have been prejudiced or discriminated. I am not proud of that, but it is true. These beliefs were handed down to me, but at the end of the day I am responsible for my shortcomings.
I am doing my best to clear them away. At times, my attempts fail miserably. At others, my attempts are misinterpreted, and things get murky. There are also times where I know racism is not present because there is no separation between me and you, us and them. We are able to participate together as community – all different pieces of people who are a part of the healthy whole.
Fort St. John is filled with many people who are racist and many who do their best not to be. There are some minds you will never change. I would hope that everyone would consider the opportunity to participate in an indigenous blanket ceremony or perhaps a multi-cultural event such as Taste of Fort St. John to educate themselves before stereotyping and discriminating.
I am mindful that my children learn from me. I just love the millennials as they really do appreciate inclusivity and want no one left behind.
When someone who has been discriminated against speaks up, please do not belittle their voice by undervaluing their point of view. You have not walked in their shoes. You have no right to expect how they should experience their world. Racism and discrimination can create intergenerational trauma.
To those people who have been victims of racism – I am underqualified to respond adequately. I can say that I will do better. I can say that I will speak up against any racism I witness. I will not turn the other eye. I will do my best to understand. I will make mistakes. This is a journey that happens together in kindness. Together we can build a better future for our children.
One day, there was an indigenous woman at a crosswalk. I stopped and waited for her. She waved me to go. Out of respect to her, I waved her to walk across. She began to do so with her head down. When she reached the middle of the crosswalk, she picked up her head and looked right at me with a great big smile and a wave. I am not really sure what happened, but I do know that I also smiled on both the inside and outside. The world needs more of this, both sides giving and receiving. I am certain it must be hard not to be wary of kindness when one has been treated poorly in the past.
Remember, in a world where you can be anything, be kind. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who love and those who need love. Perhaps the community needs a civility project? Any volunteers?
Edwina Nearhood is a lifelong resident of Fort St. John. Her 30-year experience in the appraisal industry offers a unique lens on the challenges associated with the economic forces impacting real estate and the community.