By TABITHA KENTARO SABIITI
I sit and watch my two kids deeply engrossed in their favourite cartoon based on a fictional town where all the characters live happily with each other, Little Baby Bum, everyone takes the bus together. Children of different backgrounds dancing in unison, deep in laughter: that’s the beauty with unity in diversity. My gaze shifts from my kids to the TV screen to the screen door and I stare out over my balcony and try to focus on the scenery beyond, and can’t help but reflect on the parallels of that fictional world and the one we are living in, as if reflecting the wide chasm, the loud differences.
I am suddenly snapped back to the reality and truths of this lifetime; yes, and the world that we live in. I think about what’s going on in our world today; a world full of racial, gender and age discrimination; a world that no one would want for their children and for generations to come, and even not for themselves. This is a world full of pain and misery, of doubt and uncertainty. I look back into my children’s eyes and wonder how they see the world and wonder whether they will be well-equipped to weather this world and its seemingly inherent problems. I wonder what tools I need, as a mother, to contribute to the urgent change and transformation that the world and humanity clearly yearns for.
As the late George Floyd was laid to rest on 9th June, his chilling cry for his mother kept echoing, reverberating in my ears and imprinted on my mind, at once making me feel like it was my son calling to me, like my own brother calling out to our mother. Not a single soul should have to go through a life where one can’t live freely just because of their race, colour of their skin, gender or age.
"Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another
Well, everywhere is war."
This quote is taken from Bob Marley's song ‘War, no more trouble.’ inspired by Emperor Haile Selassie's speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 1963. These words can never be refuted or taken as an untruth. This situation goes on and on like a dog tail-chase infinitum every day, everywhere: to the neighbour, to your friend, to your sister, brother, on and on and on. We need to see ourselves beyond race and other socially constructed divisions. This has been the case for thousands and thousands of years, where various peoples have been subjected to pain, torture and humiliation. We all saw George Floyd’s video and the sad reality that this is happening day in, day out.
One of my biggest passions is working towards creating a welcoming atmosphere for all. For the past 15 years I have worked passionately with migrants globally to ensure that their voices are heard, their rights recognized and their needs are addressed. As a migrant now living in Canada myself, and having been born and raised in Netherlands in a refugee family, I saw how my mother made sure that we knew where we came from, and that we take pride in our heritage. This helped shape me into who I am today. Taking a leaf from my mother, I decided that I will do all I can so that my children find their voice and are comfortable with their identity, that they won’t feel the pressures of being labeled due to the color of their skin. My purpose is to bring them up right and instill in them the same confidence that I had growing up.
We are angry. We are all hurt by what we know shouldn’t be the normal and we must strive, tirelessly, to put an end to all forms of discrimination. We must work to lift the silencing of the vulnerable, and instead work together to create a world of endless possibilities for us and for our children. We are the change. We are the voice.
So as I sit and watch my two kids deeply engrossed in their favourite TV cartoon based on a fictional town where all the characters of various backgrounds live happily with each other, I reflect and believe that such a world is possible.
Together we can create that world.