Amplifying voices

Amplifying Voices – Racism, It Hurts

As part of the College’s commitment to anti-racism, we recognize the importance of amplifying diverse voices of leadership within the profession, and the benefits of discussion and sharing of experiences, perspectives and reflections. This space is dedicated to RECEs who are interested in contributing to this conversation. Please email us at [email protected]

[Adapted from the French original]

Racism, It Hurts

It’s like dying prematurely

It’s accentuating the divide between people

It’s debilitating minorities

It’s very important to regulate how we behave toward each other. As an author, rather than a moral guide – which I don’t pretend to be – I would strongly encourage people to live their lives and shape their opinions through positive intentions, rather than merely reacting to situations.

While I refuse to take anything personally, I admit I’ll sometimes hear and see equally hurtful things, which make me akin to an injured bird being pecked to spite the colour of its plumage.

Why should skin decide who wins? 

In spite of my positive attitude, when I’m faced with the bitter taste of racist acts, comments or even systems, life almost loses all flavour for me.

Isn’t it true that racism stifles all the senses of those who experience it? 

Talking about it can spread seeds of change, but we can’t reap what we don’t sow. In other words, our words can be the root of our woes. And paradoxically, our woes can be healed by our words.

That’s why I decided to end my silence (in favour of this long-awaited means of communication) with the conviction that love is the voice that rings truest.

In this perspective, when we have positive intentions based on values – like love, benevolence and trust – words, actions or systems plant seeds of equity and inclusion, just as the authentic educator who expands on a child’s own expression to interact with them, because their needs and interests are fundamental! 

The rule is simple: love thy neighbour (including yourself). The exception is just as plain: help the ones you care about. And that’s normal.

Minorities, like myself, aren’t asking to be loved as a child or mother, for instance. They’re simply against racism, which they often experience both through individual attitudes and systemically! Therefore, they need their rights to be advocated and protected. Plain and simple! 

The love I’m speaking of here is a humanitarian feeling (comprised of equity and inclusion) that should drive us to advocate and protect diversity, among other values, which is about giving, not taking.

Where skin colour is a boon for some, but not others, diversity, equity and inclusion must be advocated and protected.

I have nothing against anyone’s values of preference, but I’m for something bigger: core values like love, benevolence and trust. Let’s spread more love. Let’s spread more benevolence. Let’s spread more trust with each other. In my humble opinion, it’s through these “benefits” that we’ll make the “opposite of racism” rise within our society.

The opposite of racism is love – the humanitarian sentiment I mentioned, which once again means equity and inclusion.

I believe anti-racism means that “every bit of love” plants seeds that’ll bloom through diversity, equity and inclusion across the social system, meaning all spheres of society.

Allow me to preach the spirit of love, benevolence and trust to the whole world, which manifests itself not above, but beyond social norms.

Spreading love, especially by giving people the freedom to be themselves (intentionally allowing them to be exempt from all discrimination), no matter the colour of their skin, is far from being a laissez-faire attitude.

“Let it be” is a “free pass” to be truly equal in terms of dignity and rights; but not necessarily to do anything we wish.

Human beings should be treated with love, no matter their origin or destination. Making anti-racism clearly visible should be every person’s and corporation’s responsibility, without exception.

For example, a person who explicitly or implicitly holds another person down is someone who, unfortunately, doesn’t love their neighbour. But … this criminal still deserves to be loved, because they are a human being.

Yes, someone who commits such an act, though it may be too difficult to capture on video or denounce, is a criminal. But nothing stops us from loving that person as a human being, even if we condemn the horrible act they committed.

I believe that society should make every effort to prevent this type of crime (usually hidden) known as racism. There’s no point in hating criminals after they’ve committed their crimes. We must take action before they engage in their evil behaviours, especially through education, equal opportunities to move up the social ladder, and mechanisms that are inconsistent with the silence of those who suffer.

And what can we do not to hate? It’s simple: love! 

These days, I’ve noticed that almost everyone around me is “happy” that a former police officer was sentenced to decades in jail time for committing an excessively racist and irreparable act against one of my brothers for over 500 seconds, and I wonder:

Why, out of those hundreds of seconds, wasn’t a single second of love, benevolence and trust spared toward the victim? I’d like to think that a single second these values in terms of physical intervention strategies (including team intervention) could’ve made a big difference! 

Furthermore, since the former police officer was criticized for having acted without compassion for the victim, shouldn’t our attitude now be the opposite of hate?

What if the criminal himself was another victim: a victim of his police training or his family upbringing, for example? 

Did he do the right thing for my late brother? Not at all! 

Should we act like him (the criminal) through our words, omissions or actions? Absolutely not! 

Should we love him despite his excessively and irreparably heinous act? Yes, for he’s also our brother! 

Must justice take its course? Yes.

But… I think the best justice is prevention.

And the best core value is love. People who learn this as young children will know it for life. Of course, it’s not inevitable, because people can change throughout their lives; but it’s an asset to everything and a statistical trend. Let’s spread more love! 

Love is a path. Let’s dare to follow it.

Love is a voice. Let’s dare to raise it.

Sincerely loving one’s neighbour can be difficult, but it’s not the most difficult thing in the world.

Racism HURTS … but we mustn’t fight it with hate. Rather, we must fight it with love.

Thank you! 

Bytchello Prévil, RECE