As we wind into the end of February and Black History Month, we wanted to reflect on the last year of learning, yearning, deeper thinking, + planning in our equity work.
As a team, it is an ongoing process to look around us and see what we can do as a brand to create positive change, to make sure we’re taking a step in the right direction, from a genuine stance. We try to approach it with curiosity, asking of ourselves — What can we do that will be impactful? What do our learnings look like for us, not just for this month but for the rest of our lives?
Much has changed in the last year to make the cracks + fissures of systemic racism even more apparent. And what we keep coming back to in our learnings in the last few weeks in particular is the importance of HISTORY in Black History Month. The education - or rather mis-education - of understanding the difference between oppression and privilege in major historic events, specially the history of Black and Indigenous groups in Canada and the world.
More and more it’s apparent that we are responsible for our own education as individuals, that the answer to not knowing is to look to that history. At this point in time, there are simply no excuses anymore to not put in the work toward an Anti-Racist future. This conversation is one of the biggest conversations we will have in our lifetime and we don't take it lightly.
What we know for sure is that we cannot be having these conversations, as a team, as a business, as a country, without first taking personal steps towards a deeper understanding. If change doesn’t start within + inwardly, we simply can’t expect change to happen.
Our offering this month, besides the work we do to foster JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) learning within our team, is to make a few suggestions for how we can better engage with those within our own community. We acknowledge first and foremost that we live on unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of the Syilx peoples that has been colonized by settlers and is now predominately white. But our predominately white city is the fastest growing in Canada and with growth comes diversity. Here at Okanagan Lifestyle we all share the same goal, that we will not feel like real change has been made until BIPOC members of the community feel that this is a safe place to exist, and thrive, and live, and stay.
Here's how we can all help make that dream possible:
1. Avoid Micro-Aggressions
What are micro-aggressions + why are they harmful? They are a verbal, behavioural, or environmental form of discrimination. It can be indirect, subtle, or unintentional, but it is always towards members of a marginalized group. In this instance, a racial and ethnic minority.
I love your hair!
Where are you from?
Can I touch your hair?
I don’t see colour.
All lives matter.
Everyone can succeed if they work hard enough.
This article goes into detail about what they mean and how to avoid them.
2. Understand Terms
Language matters. Understanding the difference between segregation and Jim Crow laws and restrictions matters, and is so relevant to how we engage in civic dialogue with one another.
This article details which terms are appropriate, ie. "can I say Black?"
BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour
Read more terms here.
3. Make Space for Joy
Celebrate Black joy, Black culture, and Black healing!
You can do this by supporting Black-owned business, sharing about cool initiatives (like the UBCO Equity office Black Care packages!), and donating to events and organizations that promote Black creativity.
4. Failure is a Part of Trying
In our rush to be perfect and succeed, we forget that failures and mistakes are all a part of the process. When we learn from our mistakes, we do better. Don't live in a place of shame, replace your languaging, give yourself some grace, and keep trying! We're cheering you on!
Thank you to the community organizations and partners who continue to do the work and have helped us immensely in our learnings: Mosaic Books, UBCO Equity + Inclusion Office, Tahi + Woldu Advising, Kinfolk Nation, and Bloom Academy.