(Bautista, a personal photograph of HRM, June 2, 2015)
“Vulgarity and poison … any racial pejorative, sexual pejorative and all that stuff is created to make a person less than human.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
One of my classes is discussing diversity policy this week and because it is a concept so deeply rooted in every fibre of my being, I always find myself fired up for as long we discuss these ideas.
Canada is a progressive country, I deeply believe this, and yet there are so many discriminatory actions that continue to threaten the diverse tapestry of our country. Snapshots of the past before civil or human rights declarations and movements still thrive in this great country of ours.
And yes, I am from a big city and currently live in a small one – neither city is faultless – discrimination is alive and well and living in Canada.
From the first time it happened until just last week, negative pejoratives continue to appear in my daily interactions but not so much in the school yard manner of my childhood. At least kids were blunt with their words and thoughts and I had a chance to respond.
Adults are less brave and courageous.
Their passive aggressive tactics are many and whether behind my back or under their breath or within indirect speak – I am fully aware of their cowardice. Educated or not, privileged or not, older or younger – lots of people opt for poison over poise. I am keen on when it happens and sense insincerity in any disguise.
Depending on the situation, I tend not to acknowledge the behaviour – especially if I have to see a person on a regular basis – circle of friends, family members, co-workers, faculty, neighbours, cashiers – I offer kindness or patience or silence maybe even a combination of these and soon enough, these “regulars” come around after spending time with me or hearing me speak – the labels and judgements fall to the wayside.
Most people use pejoratives because it is their ego in control – if only egoic behaviour didn’t feel so good.
But why does it happen?
I realize that I experience it because I am guilty of it. “It happened to me so it’s going to happen to you” was once my reasoning for when I was being judgemental and callous. Though much more aware now, that delusion rears its head from time to time. But I am not trying to be perfect. I am trying to be present. I am trying to forgive.
To my transgressors, I forgive you but do know I haven’t forgotten – I say this because I now know better than to place myself in a place or situation where it will happen again.
Once maybe but twice, I don’t think so – another great tip from Dr. Angelou.
I also thank you for your unkindness because I am wiser now.
Because of your fear, I found courage.