I’m going to my first protest. Its not fully a protest, more like a social activist gathering, but imma call it a protest because it sounds more badass.
What kind of protest am I going to? Am I worked up about obscure changes to the accounting policies of leases? Am I frustrated at the pervasive lack of training in Excel at universties? Am I fed up at the insane amounts of red tap imposed by the provincial government when it comes to inquiring about tax assessments (I am, actually, and so is everyone who files taxes in Quebec)?
None of those things. I am going to a Black Lives Matters protest hosted by the Mtl chapter. That’s right. I feel like prancing about and randomly telling people,
See? See?! In this province that is always protesting, boycotting, striking, rioting about EVERYTHING, including the most mundane topics EVER, a conservative like me can still be an engaged activist, and attend protests about REAL ISSUES that matter… WITHOUT DRESSING LIKE A HIPSTER. It is possible to not look like a disheveled hippie, and still care about social causes. #ishowerandicare Ha! Breaking down biases ONE by ONE. Accountant in da house!
Except I don’t say that, because I suffer from social anxiety and people would think I am crazy.
I mentioned my intention to attend today’s protest at work, and was met by blank stares by my team (all accountants, all white). Why, they asked.
Because the last I checked, out of my close friends I have more that are visible minorities than are white. Are they all black? No, definitely not. They are a nice little rainbow of colors. But they all have stories. Facing constant ignorance, if not discrimination, is part of their reality.
Because of my gym, the most wonderful melting pot ever, a successful example of multicultural and socio-demographic diversity. Would that the world could follow my gym’s example.
Because, out of all the guys I have ever dated (excluding 1-time dates -I’m counting the guys I dated for a period of 3 weeks or more), only two were white. The rest have been Arab or Black. Not on purpose, it just happened that way. They all were different, some were lovely, some less so, but they all had one thing in common: an omni-present low-burning anger. A burden that I don’t have to bear.
Because of my ex’s family, and his cousins from Barbados that never got a fair shot at integration in this province, and became part of the statistics of disaffected youth, high school drop-outs, and gang violence.
Because of I spent 6 years of my life being judged and treated poorly due to a physical characteristic. On a small scale, I have experienced what it is like to have my identity completely invalidated and superceeded by people’s preconceptions. As I recovered from my injuries and my crippled state became less obvious, I was subjected to less mistreatment. People cannot shed the color of their skin.
Because my parents were immigrants. They might have been born with the right color skin, but they struggled to integrate into their new homes, struggled to reconcile their parents’ culture and national identities with their new Canadian ones. Because of the stories they told me, of their interesting experiences growing up. Because of my 4 grandparents, each of whom experienced WWII differently, with varying degrees of suffering and horror, but all of whom had permanent psychic scars caused by a war that tried to eliminate targeted minorities.
Because black lives matter. And until that is a self-evident statement I will show up and witness their struggle.
#altonsterling #philandocastile #blacklivesmatter
I wrote about my experience at the BLM gathering here. Glad I went.