opinion

Stillness

Stillness fills the air of my backyard in Southern Ontario. As I sway in my swing-seat, I hear the distant sounds of cars and the odd train horn echoing through the buildings that scatter this urban landscape. In the forefront are the slow trickles of water from our small fountain, the faint splashing of a bird having its bath, and a hollow bellow of the wind-chime as the weak wind rustles the leaves.
This stillness is broken by the happy-screaming of two children a couple houses down. They have recently gotten an above-ground pool, a welcomed break in this heat of early summer.
These two beautiful, happy-screaming, bounding children are part of a very friendly mixed-race family.
These kids bounce on their trampoline, as high as they can go, and wave at whatever neighbour they can see over the fences, excited when they get a wave in return.

These happy children, unbeknownst to them, will face hardships that I have never had to. Yes. Even in Canada.
 They will be seen by some for what they are, not who they are. They will be the suspect to a crime that has not yet been committed. A purse will be clutched in their presence, streets will be crossed in avoidance, and they will get slurs tossed at them that don’t exist for me. Statistically, these children will earn less in their futures, be less-likely to hold management positions, and be seen as a “diversity” box to check for an employer. These children are more likely to die from law-enforcement than I am, and they will be more likely to be involved in violence and hate-crimes.

With the happy-screams and loud splashing in the background, I think about my future family. That in our home, everyone is equal. I will teach my child to love who and how they want to love, to express themselves in however way they are, to worship how they want to (IF, they want to), that science-based evidence is respected, and that no human, regardless of who they are or what they do, is better than the other.
This is how I want to raise my child. I have to do this while simultaneously teaching them that unfortunately, the world is not the sanctuary of our home.
That their school-friends have parents who believe mommy’s sexuality is worth losing rights for. That the brave policeman they wish to be when they grow up is hired and funded by a system that is lethal to people of colour.
That their friends who invite them to play on their trampoline or in their pool is not seen the same way in this world as they are or ever will be. I will have to teach them about privilege and how to use it for the powers of equity.

Stillness returns as the children’s mother calls them in for lunchtime. The birds peck on the ground for some seed that has fallen from the feeder, the squirrels chase one another through the trees, and the garden-lantern sways in the warm breeze.

In the distance, a siren.

I hope they can breathe.

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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