The future is now

Re: A white saviour complex

My name is Ola Zuri and, 12 years ago, I moved to Kelowna as a single mother with four of my five children. As a black woman, I am living proof of a person who has experienced racism firsthand, not only here in Kelowna, but rather everywhere I have been across Canada.

Regardless of race, it was quite evident, and very clear, that the people who attended the BLM rally on Friday, June 5th, were there to add their many voices to the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movement against black people and other people of colour in our city and across North America.

In the article, Reena Ahir stated she believed the organizers had good intentions but missed the mark. She also said in a letter to Castanet, “Unfortunately, the majority of the space for speakers was occupied by non-black individuals.”

The organizers of the event were absolutely thrilled with the large turnout of people in support of Black Lives Matter. This was their first attempt at collaborating with one another in joining together the people amongst our community to support such an important cause; the lives of too many people of colour who have been mistreated, mishandled, beaten, abused, tortured, tasered, and even killed. The team consisted of both black and white collaborators and, in my opinion, they did an amazing job with it all!

Deborah Toye, first generation Chinese Canadian, attended the rally and had the following to say, “We all need to work together and support each other, all people of all races -- united we stand, divided we fall.”

Throughout the day, the organizers had set up a microphone to be used by anyone who was wanting to speak with the crowd. There were many people who got up to the mic to share their stories of what either their friends, family members, or even themselves have experienced due to racist behaviour or treatment.

The clearest message that came out of the rally was that this maltreatment towards all black people and people of colour has to stop. People are becoming more aware that enough is enough and attending the rally proved that so many people in our community care.

Another rally attendee, Herman Knibbecke, stated, “For me as a white person, I got educated a little bit more about racism and about the pain it inflicts. The fact that it still even exists in society today is tragic and I'm saddened that racism is so embedded in our society.” He also said, “Hearing Ola Zuri speak at the rally about the children being the ones who will change this mindset, reminds me of the song, “Teach Your Children,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Let's follow the lyrics of that song and change now for the sake of all children. After all, they are the ones who are going to shape the society this generation will retire in and then their kids are going to shape the society they will retire in and so on.”

Contrary to what was stated in the article, there was nothing about the rally that compared to ‘a white saviour complex’ towards anyone at all.

What’s important is to be teaching and sharing with the children because we are helping them change the face of racism, oppression, and injustice towards people of colour that has been endured for over 422 years.

Be the change – stand up for anyone, everyone, any race, any religion, and any creed - come out and support people every day. Do not come out once – come out each time there is an event supporting black lives and people of colour - and continue to do it forever! Show everyone you care about the future of our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers, and our families!

Let’s change because Black Lives Matter and the future is now!

Ola Zuri

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