LETTER: Look inward and be the change

At the risk of the public’s wrath, I would like to respond to Sue Young and Richard Pearen’s recent letter regarding the push for an anti-racism policy for Vernon. Racism is not a recent problem and I question the fairly current push for a policy to be formed. I could very well be mistaken when I assert that this drive seems to have coincided with the very public and aggressive rise of Black Lives Matter and Indigenous rights groups, claiming they have been victimized for years (and compensation is necessary).

Since the dawn of time, there has been discrimination. Related to Canadian history, think of the Chinese and how brutally they were treated when the men arrived in Canada to work on the railway. They were given the most dangerous and menial jobs, segregated from the “white men” and paid pennies. How about the Japanese who were thrown in internment camps, their property is taken with little compensation. While a public apology has been made, there is little to undo the discrimination and hardships they faced. It is interesting to note these ethnicities rose above the prejudiced treatment to become business owners, talented in many professions and leaders in foods that we now enjoy. You don’t hear or see much about the Chinese protesting. Many immigrants to North America have survived much adversity (prejudice included); they worked hard and chose not to play the “I’m a victim” card.

There is no denying slavery, residential schools, the degradation of women today in other parts of the world and the hateful hearts of those who truly do show contempt for anyone different than them. However, even one of our own Vernon council members has faced uncouth racial attacks and in their own words made a choice to move forward and not become a victim. I wonder if others share the same concern that we have become an easily offended society. We wilt under an unkind word or look; we label others intolerant when a disagreement arises; we claim discrimination the moment we don’t get our way. We are constantly looking for someone, something, some policy to BE the change instead of looking inward and taking responsibility for our own response and actions. Sometimes a poor cycle needs to be realized and broken instead of blame-shifting. Sometimes, in humility, we need to reach out and ask for help, not demand it through rallies and rioting. I have read countless praises regarding how kind and welcoming travellers and tourists alike have found citizens of Vernon. In the paper, we read the many stories of our community coming together in support of a fire victim or a family member diagnosed with a serious illness. Am I missing something with the great push for an anti-bullying policy?

Criticism, intimidation, spitefulness, oppression, even school/work bullying – all of these are realities of living in a sinful world. If you personally witness an act of hatred, speak up, stand up for the person being mistreated. File a report if necessary. But please do not jump on the bandwagon of being politically correct and creating more policies and restrictions of free speech and thought. I am 100 per cent sure that not one Vernon councillor would be okay with any form of targeted racism. Where are our human rights being grossly denied to warrant an entire anti-racism policy?

Danyelle Toplov