Ferguson. New York. Baltimore. Detroit. I’d been observing these events going on in the US from north of the border. A few things always come to mind as I witness everything:
1. Fire is catching.
There are thousands of people making comments on how these riots/protests/rallies/demonstrations/rebellions remind them of the districts’ uprisings in The Hunger Games series. I can’t help but be one of those people. It’s interesting yet frightening how they parallel each other. Interesting how fiction mimics reality, and how fiction impacts real life. Frightening how people can safely cheer on the underdogs on the page or screen, and how they condemn such actions in real life.
2. History is repeating itself/History hasn’t resolved itself.
It can feel like a never-ending cycle. And it hurts me that the progress that we’ve made isn’t enough. I know I’m a non-Black person of colour, so I’m in a weird (for lack of a better word) position between knowing what discrimination and racism feel like, and not experiencing the unending narrative of oppression that only these people live everyday.
I don’t know, guys. It feels like slavery happened a long time ago, but these wounds and roots run deep.
3. Two-Slice Hillys still exist.
I haven’t personally met any Two-Slice Hillys (shit-eating racists, if you haven’t read or watched The Help), but just seeing comments on the Internet just make me feel a wide range of negative emotions from sadness to rage to fear. I just can’t believe that progress can be so uneven across a province or state, let alone an entire country. (The US and Canada have their own set of histories to address and remedy, so I can’t side with anybody saying which country has the better human rights record.)
These people have been brought up believing in specific things and seeing others in such a way that it is so damaging to society. And I’m not discounting myself from this. I have acted, thought, and felt with prejudice and perpetuated oppression. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But I’m trying my best to be more thoughtful and empathetic. I hope I’ll be better.
4. What am I doing to help?
How am I being more thoughtful and empathetic? By stepping out of my comfort zone and learning about these issues. I can follow the news, do research, and talk to people about what has been going on. I can ask questions and hopefully get the truth.
But what about the riots? What about protesting? What about being more active? I know I’m not the type to join a protest or even march in solidarity with people. I never saw myself doing that. Maybe I’m afraid of what others will think of me. Maybe I don’t care as much as I think I do about these issues. Maybe I think I belong elsewhere. Maybe I’m supposed to be fighting from another angle.
I hope that I’ll figure that out. It’s unfortunate to think that more riots and protests will happen, but it’s also very necessary that they do. We need to continue the conversation, to fight systemic oppression, and to make sure that the world remembers what happened and is still happening. I’m no expert on this topic, just an observer and a member of this planet, but I hope that whoever reads this will join me in working to help fix this in their own way.