A week ago or so, after Ahmed Aubrey, but before the Cooper incident and the death of George Floyd - and the protests that followed - my beloved friend and neighbour came home from a walk on a beautiful day near Moody Park, and shared a story with me in passing, as we often do safely from our driveways since the pandemic.
What she told me left me shaken and infuriated. While she was out peacefully walking, social distancing-style, a white person in Moody Park told her, “Hey China-lady! Go home!”
She (a woman of colour) brushed it off as the kind of aggression she was used to, and that her kids had grown up with.
She understandably chose not to address the person, but I told her if I’d been there, I would have.
I told my friend I’d write this letter. If I needed to put my deep distress into words, I could only imagine how she felt.
No one should have to sit in silence on the receiving end of such ignorant bullying and racism.
I have the privilege of being a witness, not the oppressed, and the least I can do is call it out.
The very least.
I have done so, imperfectly, in the theatre community, in schools where I teach, and in my own extended family, and the least I can do now is call it out for my friend and neighbour, as I continue to listen and learn about my own bias and privilege.
New West, we need to do better.
White people, please, let’s do something, say something, and keep listening and examining our tacit participation in racism. We have to do better than this. A great place to start is by (looking up) “things white people can do for racial justice” - then do some of them. If you are certain you see the world through colour-blind eyes, look up the life-long work of Jane Elliot, who first introduced her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment to her third grade students in 1968 in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Renée Bucciarelli, New Westminster