Canada, Spring of 2021 – Spring has been heartbreaking in my homeland. In May, 215 tiny bodies were discovered on the grounds of a former Residential School in British Columbia. In June, Ontario had to bury a Muslim family of 4 killed as a result of hate. And as I publish this article, Quebec has accumulated a horrific 13* femicides since we kicked off 2021.
In my work to help people recognize the value of differences, I learn every day. I learn how it is challenging to understand and accept differences on multiple levels. I learn how we resort too quickly to the comfort of what we know as “our own.” I learn how the will to change, to adapt, and to understand coexists with reluctance, resistance, and unwillingness. I learn how, even with the best intentions, fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in any given community or organization is a constant, uphill battle.
Engaging in the battle
Although challenging on many levels, it is a battle we must engage in as it is a battle we cannot lose. Not if we want a better life for our children, our families, and our women. Not if we want a better world for ourselves, our communities, and our organizations. There is no losing this battle. But how do we eradicate this incessant display of hate? The simple answer is, I don’t know.
In all my years of exploring and immersing myself in other cultures through my work, travels and studies, I may have developed cultural skills, utilized cutting-edge tools and referred to constantly evolving models to help myself and others find their way onto the battleground. But there is one aspect I have never been able to grasp, let alone manage: hate.
Hate, Bias and Extremism
When hate enters the equation, my understanding erodes. I get disheartened. My right brain kicks in, and I either retreat in disbelief or storm the barricades in anger. My self-imposed professional levelheadedness is thrown aside in full force. I simply don’t understand why or how this is even possible.
But yet, it is. Hate is displayed much too often these days, in my homeland and abroad.
Thankfully, we are seeing initiatives emerging to address hate head-on. Initiatives such as creating a global network against hate by Facebook Canada and Ontario Tech University’s Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism to advance research to prevent hate, bias and extremism.
Beyond DEI awareness
Of course, much is being done to raise awareness in diversity, equity and inclusion. But as much as I believe all and every effort is worthy, I also believe that we are passed “raising awareness.” The horrific cost of colonialism, racism, sexism and all the other ill-fated “isms” is blatant in the media each and every day. It is evident in our communities, in our organizations and our own lives every day. Awareness has been raised significantly. The battle has now shifted to education and action. Now more than ever, it is time to educate ourselves and to act. For real.
* When I wrote the first draft of this article, the count of women killed was 11. When I reviewed it the day before, it had moved to twelve. And on the day of publication – a day later – I had to up the number yet again. How disturbingly sad…