Silence and inaction are not the solutions

There are times when people choose to discriminate rather than to accept.

The world’s history contains many examples of situations where people were subjected to discrimination, persecution or victimization. We cannot change the world’s history but we can definitely strive to ensure that the wrongs of the past do not exist in the present, nor are they to be transferred into the future. The past is the past but we must do what we can to rectify previous generations’ discriminatory practices and those that still exist.

Examples of wide-spread systemic racism towards non-whites in the United States and Canada, via police wrong-doings, government inactions, divisive rhetoric, and massive protests have pushed such discriminatory practices into our modern-day realities. As a consequence of the examples of still-common systemic racism and the death-by-police to non-white members of society, many people have advocated and/or marched for the abolition of such hateful acts, along with immediate legal reforms and the cessation of prejudiced practices.

In March, 2010, I wrote an article entitled “Let our eyes see no differences” in which I stated that all of us must strive to be tolerant to diversity, in whatever form it appears. Here we are 10 years later and major changes are still needed. This letter is a revised version of my 2010 opinion.

I was raised next to Truro where that town’s racist practices towards non-whites regarding place-of-residencies and employment opportunities were noticeable. In Truro there were the areas in which African Nova Scotians were expected to live. South of Truro is Millbrook, a Mi’kmaq First Nations indigenous community about which my ears almost always heard referenced to with equally derogatory rhetoric.

When I was a youngster my community of Bible Hill, I never had African Nova Scotian nor Indigenous neighbours or employees.

One of the challenges with which most of us are faced is our common desire to maintain a degree of the status-quo; many people struggle with their comfort levels when dealing with something or someone different from their normal. As difficult as it might be for some, individuals and communities need to strive to reach out to accept others so as to offer and to seek opportunities to experience positive and healthy encounters.

We live in a multiracial world that is getting constantly smaller and more diverse. The days – if they ever truly existed – are long gone when most individuals can be born and live their lives in regions or environments of constant familiarity with all that surround them.

Where do we go from here? We must recognize and accept our differences. We need to accept history as something that has happened and cannot be changed – but can still offer valuable lessons for our futures and assist us to ensure that its negatives not be repeated.

Ten years have passed since my original article with not a heck of a lot of noticeable changes to rectify the many situations of racism. When we witness or hear of racial wrong doings, we must question and let our voices be heard and actions be seen; silence and inaction are not the solutions. Therefore let me up the ante from my 2010 “Let our eyes see no differences,” my 2020 request is to require our governments, laws, services and behaviours to see no differences.

Ray Bates

Guysborough