#blackhistorymonth - 4 minutes

Still, I dream!

“… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Still, I dream!"

This famous speech of 1963 by Martin Luther King shows how far we have come as a society, but yet still, it is fair to say that we have some work to do in the quest for equality for all. Here we are celebrating Black History Month to recognize the achievements and contributions not only of black Canadians but as a race in general. We celebrate the firsts as a landmark of a dream come true. The first black president, vice president, neurosurgeon, and many others. In some instances, just being acknowledged or recognized is a cause for celebration.

Discrimination, no matter which form it takes (overt or covert), has dire consequences on the recipient and greatly affects a person’s mental health. As a society we seem to feel empathy when we can see the scars of one’s wounds but sometimes those scars from the wound are within and can only be felt. In these instances the pain is somewhat minimized by society so people end up suffering in silence.

Last year was a difficult year for the whole world. We had to deal not only with a global pandemic but also many other losses as a result of it. 2020 has been labelled as many things but amidst the negatives, it was also the year that society held hands to fight for one cause, and its sound roared louder than ever before. The George Floyd murder was not the first of its kind but that year, in our silence and stillness from our everyday busyness, we were forced to pay attention to the cry that has been, even before then — in America, Canada, and all across the world. We became aware and did not just sit still, we came together.

In that incident, we saw in Mr. Floyd our father, brother, son, husband, boyfriend, friend, teacher, neighbour, etc. It was no longer them versus us, it was humanity versus right or wrong. Through this, we saw many initiatives rising, and although some were distorted and others appeared to be minuscule in comparison to what still needs to be done, it was and still is a step in the right direction.

I have heard this analogy once used and I believe it brings great clarity to the situation at hand when it comes to All Lives Matter versus Black Lives Matter initiatives. Imagine being a mother of two children (or more) and one always came home from school saying that they are being bullied. What would you do? You would rise and get to that school and advocate for your child. Your actions do not mean that the other child isn’t important, but the reality is that you at that particular time know that they are not in danger. You will then use all your effort at this time to fight to make sure that both children can enjoy the same safety. So do all lives matter? Yes they do, but not all lives have been faced with the amount of oppression, racism, and inequality that black lives have and still do.

We all have a part to play. We can change something today, for a better tomorrow and it starts with one step, then another. So till then, I have a dream. Below are resources that can help you take the first step. Every little bit counts.

By Irene Barnes, Social Worker, Centre for Growth & Harmony

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