The Happiness Connection  

A lesson in showing support

The death of George Floyd has set an already unsettled world, spinning. Vast numbers of people are standing up and saying, enough is enough. 

Systemic discrimination happens globally. It isn’t just an American problem. Peaceful demonstrations and social media campaigns have been organized around the world to show support. 

One of these initiatives was called Blackout Tuesday. 

Instagram users were encouraged to post a black rectangle with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. 

I don’t spend a lot of time on social media. I add posts and have a quick check to see what’s going on. 

When I posted on Instagram on the morning of June 2, I encountered Blackout Tuesday. I wanted to support the cause.

I noticed that some people put simple words or graphics on black backgrounds. I thought about what I wanted to say. 

Although the black population in the Okanagan is growing, it is still relatively small. My thoughts went to other minorities. They experience systemic discrimination as well.

I decided to put the recommended hashtag on my post along with the words ‘All Lives Matter.’

I can hear some of you gasping from here.

I did not realize that this is a phrase being used by some right-wing people, to dilute the message of black lives matter.

When I got some backlash on my Instagram post, I took it down. I knew I was causing upset, although I didn’t know why. 

People were quick to criticize me, but no one reached out to see if I understood the meaning associated with that phrase.

It wasn’t until I told my son the next day that he enlightened me. 

I was horrified. I apologize to anyone who saw my post. I was posting with the right spirit, but not enough information. 

I told my story to a few friends and found that many of them were just as clueless as I was. In case you are also living in ignorance, let me explain.

You may agree that black lives matter and want to be more inclusive. That’s where I was coming from. Of course, all lives matter, but right now, not all lives need the same level of help and support as people from African descent.

When I broke my ankle and it needed surgery, it required more care than other parts of my body. There was no suggestion that the rest of me didn’t matter. It was just that my ankle was the priority at that time.

Today, black lives need to be the priority.

I’ve learned that I shouldn’t assume I understand what is going on in the world, just because I know the basics of a situation.

I was acting from my head on Tuesday. I wanted to show support for something I knew about. But knowing isn’t the same as understanding. I thought about what I should do, but I didn’t feel into it before I acted.

I know that I am lucky to be a white woman living in Canada. 

I know that it is more challenging to be black, especially if you live in a culture that stems from a model of slavery. 

Knowing these things is not enough. We need to take what we know and move it into our hearts. We need to feel our knowledge.

I received an email from Cineplex yesterday. It was the perfect offer at the perfect time. 

Movies can be an incredible tool to educate and encourage empathy. Help us take a stand against racial injustice by creating space for Black stories, artists, and filmmakers. These important films are available to view at no cost.

I’ve watched many of these movies before, but it is time for a refresher. 

I started with If Beale Street Could Talk. What I know hasn’t changed, but my understanding is stronger.

If like me you want to give your knowledge the power of understanding, listen with an open mind to what black voices have to say, watch movies showing the reality of legal systems, or read about the experiences of being black.

Above all, try to be compassionate with people who are suffering, and also with those who are learning how to support change.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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