Racism and the Human Race

I am currently taking a course on Aboriginal Worldviews and Education. I am feeling, in my body, the stirrings of many things…I feel like bowing to First Nations Peoples in gratitude for the land beneath my feet, for their spiritual wisdom, and for their resilience despite immense suffering. At the same time, I feel like crying for their past and present experiences; how difficult it is for a child to learn and thrive (see video here) in the current system. These children grow up to be adults carrying the burdens of their ancestors; how can a child learn in a traditional school setting when their nervous systems and brains are wired to be on high alert? I have personally experienced prejudice and racism as a Japanese-Canadian child growing up in the 1970s in North Vancouver, BC, which was a predominantly white city at the time. I naively thought that raising my own children in Toronto would somehow “protect” them from similar experiences. I was sadly mistaken. My son came home in Grade 4 and asked, “Why do people hate Chinese people?” to which I replied “Why do you ask?” He explained that the neighbour’s child was making derogatory remarks about Chinese people, but because he is of mixed ethnicity (Japanese, Chinese, & Canadian), he wondered if he should correct the kid by saying “I’m not just Chinese!” We had an interesting, lengthy talk. I was relieved that he was able to come home, ask questions, and process the experience (it would not be his last, sadly). At the same time, I was sad that 40 years after my own experiences, things haven’t come as far as I would have hoped, even while living in a culturally diverse city. My friend said “Racism is everywhere, Diane. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape it.” So I sent a message of love and hope to my son and to his racist peer (whose insecurity fueled his cruel remarks), I continue to work on healing myself, and I offer a space for others to explore both their own and their ancestors’ pain through my work. Let us remember that we are all part of one race, the human race.

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