Discrimination. What would you do?

Many of you might have seen the ABC’s TV show “What would you do?” where hidden cameras capture people’s reaction. It amazes and sometimes outrages me to the point of shedding tears when I see people being treated unfairly. While actors/stunt people play the scenarios, they sure make it look real.

The first episode I saw, was about a woman who passed out on the sidewalk. The woman was dressed nicely, business-like. Several passers-by do just that; they look at her and pass by. It took a while for people to actually stop and call 9-1-1 or to even ask her if she was alright. When they changed the scene to a homeless man, I forget how long but I believe it took twice as long for anyone to get help. Scratch that scenario and have that same homeless man pass out with a can of beer in his hand? One might as well have call the morgue.

I’ve always been a social butterfly, a people person. I love people, regardless of our differences. And it is those differences that attract me to them. It saddens me so much when people are racist against others. When I say always, I mean as far back as I can remember. Regardless of skin colour, the way we dress or the language we speak, we all have blood going through our veins, breathe the same air, have a heartbeat, love, we feel, the list of similarities is endless. Why can’t we all treat each other equally?

In 1992, Michael W. Smith, a Christian rock singer had a song on the charts called Colour Blind and the chorus went like this. (Caution: the lyrics are addictive).

“Why can’t we be color blind
You know we should
Be living together
And we’d find a reason and rhyme
I know we would
‘Cause we could see better
If we could be color blind.”

In 1968, when I was 8 years old, a family of refugee from Haiti came to a small French community in Quebec, Canada. One of the daughters was my age and we were in the same class in school. The two of us used to play together. I took a special interest in her. I didn’t know why her skin was so dark and mine was white, but it didn’t bother me. I was happy to be her friend.

Two years later, another family came to our hometown. They were from Turkey. My new friend spoke English but very little French. I never knew why, instead of sending her to the English elementary school, her parents sent her to French school. By the time I met this girl, I was not fluent in English but knew enough to communicate with her. Oh the countless times we got caught talking in class. In 1972, before the days of mandatory seatbelts, my friend died in a fatal car accident. I was devastated when my dad told me the news.

Five years later, Alex Haley’s well-known mini-series, “ROOTS: The Saga of an American Family” aired on tv. Every night, for one week, I watched the mini-series with my dad. I cried, with my fists clenched in anger, trying to figure out why people were so discriminatory. I remember a promise I made at that time. I vowed that some day, I would go to Africa. I wanted to see the land where they were taken from. 

Well I kept that promise. I went to Africa. Not once, but twice. I had a love for these people since I was 8 years old and to this day, when I see a cute commercial on TV involving African-American children, or even if I see them on the street, I smile. Every time. My husband even points that out. (Caution: this commercial is contagious, it is guaranteed to make you smile and maybe even laugh).

For the past twenty years, I’ve been involved with the Deaf Community, a group of people very dear to me. I cringe when people put them down because they can’t hear. The main reason my writings include at least one deaf protagonist is to educate the reader. I’m not yet a published author but I hope that if and when I do, people will get two things from my books: a story, with an educational twist.

Are you a social butterfly? How do you feel about discrimination? If you saw injustice on the street, in a mall or store, what would you do?

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