Check Your Head’s Inclusion and Anti-Racism project aims to increase the understanding of race, migration, and issues of belonging among Metro Vancouver youth. This project serves to build the capacity of youth to facilitate dialogue and become active in community efforts. This project is supported by Coast Capital Savings and the Hamber Foundation.
This blog entry is written by 16-year old project participant Mutia J.
It has been about two years since I moved to Canada from Indonesia. I am inspired by Canada’s multiculturalism. It is one of the reasons I decided to join the Inclusion and Anti-Racism project with Check Your Head (CYH), a youth-driven organization.
Our workshop on June 19, 2016 was an introduction to the project. I learned in depth about the meaning of words associated with oppression, racism and other forms of discrimination. Our first workshop took place at the PeerNetBC office with Romi Chandra-Herbert, Co-Executive Director of PeerNet BC. There were about twelve youth participants.
Anti-Racism to me means an elimination of all forms of prejudice and unfair treatment based on one’s skin colour, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, et cetera. Racism puts a border line between people. Racism leads to discrimination. In each second we live there are still many innocent people being treated unfairly because of prejudice against them. Most people living in the world today must have experienced any one or all of these; ageism, ableism, sexism, or classism. The world today has done better to reduce discrimination by enforcing laws and educate people about anti-racism in the early age. However, I still believe that people can do more than this.
One of the solutions that I think should be undertaken by everyone is to reflect and think: “what are the possible type(s) of discrimination I have faced or am currently facing? How do I feel about it? What are the actions that make me feel excluded? I feel included/valued when…” I believe asking these questions would help people better understand discrimination, racism and possible ways to support other people they may know who also face the same problem.
Slavery still exists in some countries and most of the victims are children and women. There are 168 million children aged five to seventeen years old who are involved in child labour. Sex trafficking is still happening in Brazil, India, Haiti and lots of other countries. The majority of the victims are women and girls. In Brazil, there are five million children who are victims of sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is a significant gender inequality issue. Traffickers seek women who are socially and economically vulnerable. Discrimination is a violation against human rights and the impacts are long lasting. I do not blame certain groups of people that this is happening; many factors have contributed to the continuation of various forms of discrimination. One of these factors is colonialism. Discrimination impacts incomes, professional relationships, leadership opportunities and, in some cases, discrimination destroys lives. Lots of people experience discrimination, yet do not know where to seek help. They get used to discrimination as a normal thing.
I used to think that equality is an anti-racism approach. Equality refers to equal opportunity for people regardless of what they need. But equity is more important. It was a strange, unfamiliar word to me. Equity refers to the act of justice. In order words, giving other people support based on their needs. For instance, someone who is homeless and has disabilities should be provided with easier access to safe housing and medical treatment. Money is not the only way to help homeless people.
As a youth, I feel I have more opportunities to make an impact in my community. I feel thankful for being a part of this project and learning some new things. I hope the world gets better, with people not remaining passive in the face of discrimination of all kinds. It is our human right to be treated with respect; therefore, it is important to fight for it. I believe each individual has a great potential to make a change.
Thank you, Check Your Head and Romi (Co-Executive Director, PeerNet BC) for the incredible workshop! I also would like to thank Erica (Inclusion Project Coordinator, Check Your Head) for suggesting some edits.