To the editor,
‘Put your hands on the dashboard, don’t move, don’t talk back, leave your hood down.’ From a young age, I was taught to be afraid of police officers and do everything they say because the colour of my skin makes me a walking, talking target. I’m just 14, but this is my reality.
Racial inequality and injustices are something we don’t talk enough about in our communities. For us as a black community, these conversations happen regularly. As a whole community, we need to acknowledge that racism isn’t just a problem in the United States. It’s prevalent here in Canada as well. There can be blatant acts of racism – which I have received – such as saying the N-word, making derogatory jokes and racial profiling.
But there are also racial microaggressions, which are more common in Canada. I’ve had people touch my hair without my consent as if I’m an animal in a petting zoo. I’ve been called “poop.” Many of my peers won’t know what it feels like to be followed by store employees while shopping or having an elderly woman cut in front of my sister and I at a grocery checkout – apparently the colour of my skin makes me a second-class human being. These may seem like small transgressions, but when ‘small’ acts of racism like these are tolerated, they make the blatant ones seem normal.
Racism is a touchy and controversial subject here. But how do we move forward and make a change? First, we need to acknowledge that racism does exist and educate ourselves about what black people and other minorities endure. This needs to be taught in our classrooms and discussed in public. This would allow us to voice our opinions and learn about others’ experiences to help us become more aware.
Once we all learn to recognize racism big and small, we can stand against racism wherever we encounter it. We can all learn and do more.
Moyo Alabi, Nanaimo
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.