During this social justice event, two specific parts struck as most moving and most enlightening, however, my initial thoughts going into this event were quite different. When I first went into the conference room only to see that there was a (and I was wrong about this) serious vibe, people were listening so intently to the guest speakers, I was quite shocked because I’ve never seen people be so focused on one person. Until, of course, I realized what these guest speakers were talking about. During the intermission for food, it was the most culturally enlightening experience ever, to be able to meet a variety of different people.
Scoff, who was a poet, was presenting a story, as well as poem, based his literary pieces on his experiences and linked it to a bigger picture involving cultural discrimination and acceptance of oneself. His first story was one of his childhoods; it depicted a story of him being bullied because of his particular hair type and style. He had an afro, and once being bullied and made fun of because of this, he shaved it and realized he “shaved” away a part of who he is. He later realized that it was crucial for him to accept his ethnic features despite being made fun of, and grew out his hair and decided to “let black shine”. The acceptance of his features, translated into the acceptance of his culture. I found this story to be very touching because I feel that many people from a diversity of ethnicities have experienced something similar to this, and the simple act of accepting one part of who they are, changes their perspectives on their surroundings and on themselves.
The second story by Scoff (the poet) was a story about Africa, and it’s richness as a continent before the injection of other nations currently known as “super powers”. The owl in the story symbolizes the Superpowers and the King represents the supply of knowledge to said superpowers. The king would tell the owl all the secrets about the riches of Africa, and the Owl used all the knowledge to plant “diseases of no cure” and invasions in order to greedily take the riches and claim them as their own. The owl represents the flourishing of the Superpower nations at the cost of the well-being of many countries in Africa. These stories were very powerful because, to many people in modern times, we ignorantly neglect to look at history and understand the past and the present conditions of certain areas, in order to understand and prevent and maybe the future of certain places.
The reverend enlightened the crowd by telling u how African Canadians do not have identity crisis because they know what they are and who they are and they’re proud. Africans have been coming to Canada for a long time and Canadian society is not giving credit for this. The first African woman to live in Canada was in 1608. In order to diminish her “blackness”, historians sad she was not “fully” black. By 1785, because of high population of black people, who happened to come to Canada as free people and not a slaves, were not intimidated by any ‘white person’ and therefore, Canadian laws changed to prohibit black people from working and having freedom, these laws went on until 1870.
This symposium on African descent in America was very eye opening. The main point in all the personal stories, and historic stories was the diminishment of a certain ethnic minority in order to blend into mainstream society. The information shared with the audience was not only interesting, but also enlightening. It touched on our modern issue of racism and our inability to fully accept others despite the color of their skin, their hair, and superficial physical features. Although the racism today is discrete and rarely noticed, it is still perpetuated in the same manner. People are denied many things based solely on their ethnicity. The only way to overcome racism is through educating ourselves about other ethnicities, cultures and traditions in order to fully understand how similar we all our. Physical appearance is something that is not a definition of who an individual is or chooses to be. Who we are is based on something much deeper than our skin.