It seems the plight of the marginalized is being exposed this past year in ways we never could have imagined. Several of us knew the connection between poverty and race, atrocities of residential schools and slavery transmuting into incarceration. Having this in our faces makes it unignorable.

Oprah Winfrey and my spiritual mom, a local elder, ask the same question:

What do we want now? When women (not indigenous women, btw) were given the right to vote, they didn’t know what to do with it. It was essentially another vote for their husbands, because subjugated people are not used to having a voice. Sadly, so many still aren’t. Women in rural areas are often more highly educated than their husbands, but hold up the patriarchy because “that’s the way it’s always been”.

It’s an important question: what do we want now? After a wonderful evening spearheaded by Patricia Biddart and the Welcoming & Inclusive Community Commitees, Jesse Lipscombe asked the same question. Where do we go from here?

I was reflecting and here’s what I came up with:

Jesse said he constantly receives pitches from artists wanting to make movies.

Well, how about this:

1. A Treaty 6 & 7 land acknowledgement. Video format, short and long. This is not asking too much.

2. Supporting BIPOC businesses and initiatives.

3. Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace. This one really hits home for me. I have literally been the diversity hire.

So if diversity is being asked to the dance and inclusion is being asked on the dance floor, I say stay ahead of it.

Before the incidents of blatant racism and micro-aggressions, sexual harassment and bullshit mistreatment starts, do the educating. There is nothing more humiliating than being the only woman of colour having to sit through a mandatory educational sessions by well meaning white women from HR AFTER this happens. An ounce of prevention is in fact, worth a pound of cure. Don’t just diversify, integrate.

I once had to defend the need for diversity in marketing in a room full of white Karens. It was not only ridiculous, it was really tough. One person said they felt embarrassed asking people of colour to be in photos. This is the definition of privilege.

4. Policy is great. Enacting policy is revolutionary.

5. Check your own personal bias. I still have to.

6. Make safer spaces. People of colour need to lead therapeutic processes where others can speak openly about race with others that understand. I have been diagnosed with severe mental illness for over twenty years, and am yet to receive any help from a psychologist of colour or even a holistic caregiver, with the exception of the couple who trained me to teach yoga.

7. Make art. Not “hang on your wall” art. The art that takes the raw feeling in your guts and your subconscious and pukes it out.

These are only a few ideas. What are some of yours?

Thank you so much Patricia for reading at the Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse, June 19 at 7pm on zoom. For tix: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/158173959571

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