You don’t have to work in public relations to see we are living through a pivotal moment in modern history. The recent international protests around race and race relations have made us collectively stop and think about our own experiences with racism and discrimination. Here at PR Associates, we wanted to share our own stories.
This is the Time to do More Than Better
Discrimination to me, as woman in business, is something I have both experienced and witnessed. There are times when I have said nothing, sitting in silent outrage, while other times I have spoken up and faced the consequences. There are many times I regret where I did not do or say more – specifically in my professional career. Now, I am thankful that I am no longer fearful of standing up for myself and other women. However, I am embarrassed to say I never fully included, with my voice, commentary about standing up for race. I didn’t even fully comprehend what our world was and is still experiencing nor did I realize it was to this unimaginable degree in the year 2020.
Growing up, my family immigrated from Europe; my Father is from Germany and my Mother is Italian. I can recall cultural, religious and class discrimination in various forms and capacities. Was it right? Not at all, but I do believe the times of inclusivity and acceptance were far less a priority. It was the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s; the decades of great music, questionable taste and blatant segregation.
I had friends of various nationalities and skin colours. I was never discouraged or told otherwise of who I associated with as long as they were good people. But as far as my late maternal grandparents were concerned, it was preferred that I marry an Italian man. Marrying anyone outside of that, especially a black person, was an untold truth. I do think if they were still alive they would have grown to realize the importance of acceptance, as they were truly kind and generous people. Perhaps there are other kind people just needing to understand the severity of the state we are in and why it needs to change.
Have I witnessed racism firsthand? Yes. Verbal racism. Opinionated racism. Violent racism – thankfully not. However, looking at the definition of racism – prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior (Oxford Dictionary of English). They all carry a message of disregard; some slow, built-up over time, a whittling away of a human soul and some as quick as 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
I am a privileged white female. I realize this more now than I ever have. I will never know discrimination because of the colour of my skin. I have further clarity now that the opportunities, safety, and assurances have a lot to do with my being Caucasian. I could never imagine being afraid of anyone in authority because of my race, nor being attacked by others because of false assumptions. I couldn’t fathom as a Mother having to live in fear for my children’s lives. Yet, far too many are, regardless of the so-called advancements we claim to have made in this 20th century era of inclusivity and acceptance. It was a lie. As Will Smith said, ‘Racism isn’t getting worse. It’s getting filmed.’
If we really examine the influences of society, does it leave room for all races to have an equal space? I recall an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show where a black American father felt the only way for his son to emerge out of their current lower-class situation was to be a rapper. Imagine if white children thought they could only have one path because of racial stigma?
In realizing, I have so much to learn and I feel others do as well. Here is a link of some recommended books about being Black in Canada.
We must recognize, embrace and accept our differences, not make them limitations any longer.
We now have no choice but to do more than better.