I forget what week of lock-down it is now.
Week 11? 12?
It almost doesn’t matter does it? The weeks and days have all blended into one long Groundhog Day type story that has yet to end. I wonder how future historians will reflect back on these troubled times. 2020 has thus far proven to be a (excuse my language) shitshow for many of us.
I live in Toronto. And although easing-up a little, Ontario’s state of emergency declaration has been extended till end of June. But word on the street says it may be September or after. Unlike a number of friends & contacts I know, I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to work remote and keep my job. I’m really grateful for this. And I’m grateful to be privileged enough to have access to a space where I’m safe. I can read, work, think and spend time outdoors. I have food, clean water… and I have toilet paper.
My heart has been really heavy this week thinking about all the riots, violence and happenings in the US. It’s been really difficult to focus on other things. I’ve seen the videos, heard the voices, educated myself on why this is happening. (FYI, Twitter has been an absolute war-zone. Super stressful. Although the K-pop stans’ take-over of racist hashtags did help to temporarily lighten the mood somewhat!)
The ugliness of centuries of suppressed racial discrimination has ferociously erupted into public awareness like a wildfire. I can’t imagine police just breaking into my home (wrong home by the way!) and shooting me. Or sitting in my car an extra 5mins, because I’m cognisant that someone outside might feel threatened by of the colour of my skin. Thus I wait till they’re out of sight before getting out. These realities are not mine and probably never will be.
But they are for too many others.
The book I’m currently reading (Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman), indirectly supports the idea that racism is learned. Through popular media and outdated models of thought; both of which results in large scale unconscious biases. So it’s an effort for our conscious minds to challenge these deeply buried assumptions.
I’m fortunate that I grew up in a multi-cultured environment and my friends and contacts group is actually very diverse. Travel has exposed me to so many different people and cultures. And while I’m not perfect, I’m very intentional in my efforts to look beyond the colour of someone’s skin; to know them as a person and an individual for their personal hopes, dreams, beliefs and work they do. I’m not blind to their colour but I challenge my preconceived assumptions of them. And that goes both ways. Just because someone is White and successful, it doesn’t mean they “had it easy”.
Returning to the topic of media; I pretty much never watch TV but when I see the ads, they feature mostly White people in beautiful huge houses. Lots of appliances. Lots of clothes. Lots of “stuff”. In many modern shows, there’s sometimes a token Black, Brown or Asian person in a predominantly White cast. What messages does this send to the public at large? To young people of colour wanting to break into a field like that? What it means to live a good life? To be happy and successful?
I know there’s representation and there’s over-representation. In tech and government, there’s diversity hiring and filling quotas. It’s a huge, complicated issue and very difficult to navigate or know what’s the “right” thing to do. I don’t want to be hired because I’m a “woman-in-tech” or “person-of-colour”. I want to be hired for the merits of my skills and what I bring to the table. I want to be the right person for that role, not just to check off a box.
But until we get to a point where as a society, we can make better choices irrespective of the colour of someone’s skin, I understand these initiatives and systems are in place for people to try and do their best. And they will fail. They will be revised. And new initiatives will be proposed.
I think (most) people are trying.
We just all have different ways, some louder than others.
But the important things is we’re all working towards a common goal. So be kind to yourself and those travelling in the same direction.
Hey, thanks for making it this far down and reading my meandering thoughts! If you wanted to connect, I’m pretty active on Twitter where I share my coding journey, thoughts and experiences.