I attended the Diversity Festival on Sept. 30th 2017. I was not sure what I was expecting but what I got was not it. I am happy that Calgary is trying to help with understanding other races, culture, and religious beliefs. However, what I got here were people complaining about “the White man” and “the Canadian Government” isn’t showing them equality, special treatment, and giving them what they want. Oh, how I wanted to share a great post on how amazing this festival was, but it was anything but that.
First off, thank you to all those who made it possible. I am sure there was some chunk of cash put into this. I am sure you were trying to make this a great event that everyone can learn of others and to gain friendship and understanding. I do not feel this was the place or time for political hate to be yelled about, or even for racial hate to be spread. Yet that is what happened on this day. It really put a damper on the whole show.
Warning, the topic today is discussing this culture fest that took place. I share the actual things that happened there and racism and political agendas. If you are tired of hearing it, don’t read on. I also ended up ranting about the racism of the festival so if you are not wanting to hear that, please stop here now. It is hard to talk about this because when you do people say you are racist for calling out the racism done. It is also hard to talk about because there is no racism intended in my speech. I want equality across the board, pure equality, yet this is not going to happen because too many people relive past hate and refuse to forgive and move forward. So please understand, I am not being racist by pointing out the racism that was displayed. For those who want to have an honest discussion on the topic and try to understand each other a little more RESPECTFULLY, than I am up for that. This is not however, a racial bashing day. I will not stand for people yelling about hate for a race, culture, sex, colour, political agenda, etc.
Rant: Equality, what a hot topic in any culture that moved to a foreign country to set up new roots. My thoughts, no culture should be paid any money just because they were born with that nationality. No culture should be given free education, free home, or anything over what any other individual in the entire country would get. No special treatment. If you need help to get educated, you do it like everyone else. If you need help buying a home, you do it like everyone else. We can not change the past, it can not be undone. Building respect and tolerance is better than rehashing the past, by doing this it just continues the hate. Equality across the board, no differences, equal opportunity, equal pay, equal.
I love different languages, to hear the music in the words, or even play the game of guessing what they are talking about. Especially those languages that always sound angry but the people are not, it is fun to watch and listen to. Only with not knowing what they are saying at a festival where you are trying to know each other it’s not so great. We were being yelled at by an Indian woman who says some words in English only not very clearly as she was yelling her rant and mostly in her language. We were being yelled at in the audience. It was horrible to see such a display. What I could make out of it was she didn’t come to Canada to get paid minimum wage and she wanted the Government to pay her higher than minimum wage. This may be hard to hear, but the truth hurts sometimes. In response to that I say get a better job. Go to school, get skills, and get a better job. You know what the base rate of money is for lesser skill trained work. It is the same for ALL races, so if you don’t like working for $12.20/hr, then please get some higher level of education, and earn a higher level of wage. I too had to start at minimum wage. In fact, when I did minimum wage it was $5.50/hr. Try that on for size as a single parent! I got a student loan, studied hard, and when done I worked for minimum wage again at $11/hr, until I found a better job. From there just keep climbing the ladder, that’s how it is done.
There is a story that fits so perfectly. “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” Written by Laura Numeroff. Please do read it, even a summary online if you like. Basically, if you give a mouse a cookie it will ask for milk, then a straw, and so on.
Meaning if you give people more and more, not encourage them to do for themselves, they will complain, bitch, whine, and make claims of being mistreated until they get what they want without getting it for themselves. This story is relevant to a lot of people who want the Government to give them more land, housing, money because they are born a specific race, or money for past hurts, or give free education because they are a specific race. This is wrong, this is not helping anyone to “be equal” and this is not helping them to become strong independent race / culture and become an active positive influence in society. I believe we all must learn to do for ourselves, of course we all need help along our journey. However, we should never have help based on a race or religion specifically, help must be based on need, not colour, race, religion, etc. Help everyone equally no matter what you were born.
Rant: I heard a few people complain about “the white man” today. This racist speak also infuriates me. It feels as though it is OK to bash the “white man” and no one can say anything about it. Hating white skin people is racism. It is just as racist to say “white man” as it is to bash any other culture/ colour/ religion/ sex / etc. First off, people with white skin do not go around trying to hurt you. Not all people with white flesh fall into those who suppressed you, enslaved you, took away your culture, life, religion, starved you, etc. It is not “white man” who hurt all those many upon many nationalities. It was a specific people, a specific religious belief at the time by those specific people. By calling the “white man” you are being racist by bunching people into one colour even though not all of those who have white skin are Brits, or Russian, or Irish, or Greek, etc. Just like not all people with black skin are from Africa or brown skin people are from India. There are a lot of people with pale skin and have no family history of harming anyone. So, if you want equality, stop being what you hate having been done to you.
The first culture to start the whole program was the native hoop dancing, a lady introducing them as Metis people. I was excited as I love to watch the hoop dance performances. However, she too complained that all of us Canadians took their land 30 thousand years ago. Having native blood as well, I get very frustrated how this is still a topic. What are you wanting us to all do? Have every single Canadian individual that has no native blood to move off Canadian soil? This is something that just can not happen, so what do you want exactly? We all know that what happened to natives was horrible and still is, just like the slavery movement was and is still horrible as it still is being done today in parts of the world. The murder of Asians building rail ways, boycotted and treated horribly by others in the communities was a horrible pilgrim start to this country. There are many other cultures that were mistreated also, just like the Irish who were starved out in this country and so on. (There, white against white) I have native blood, and the land being taken is not my argument, I have always felt there is room to share. There is an opportunity for everyone to gained better lives with the new world being developed even today. We all have the right to purchase land, what happened was done, and can not be undone. You must move forward by stop reliving the past. I agree that we all need access to grow our own food, to have the ability to buy food, land, homes, and to build businesses. This is a basic need for everyone. Try some businesses that attract money for your families, neighbours, communities and society. Why not build something with what you have? Could you not do some organic non-GMO farming on your reserve and sell those foods at farmers markets, or set up your own grocery store chain that people can shop at?
Ah, see, the racism overshadowed the dance. I saw the dance, but because of the words that were said before the dance I felt frustrated the whole time, like I wanted to stand up and yell stop hating! I couldn’t feel the healing power of the dance. I liked the dance by those two young girls, it was a good start in the program. I would have loved to see another hoop dance by other dancers, more experienced. I really do love to find the story in the dance and feel the healing power by those who have more experience in the dance. It can be quite healing. In one hoop dance I saw in Calgary at another festival, I think it was in 2003 or so. I cried during the dance, it felt so wonderful to be close to the dancer. However, the girls this day only did a short dance and I really liked the choice of music by a band called A Tribe Called Red.
I have grown up with horrible racism being done to me. I have been beaten, abused, neglected and even teachers refused to teach me because of the colour of my skin. I am not a “white man”, I am a mix of multiple nationalities yet at times, people look at me and call me a white man. People don’t know what nationality I am, I have been attacked for being all races at one time or another. My skin is olive-brown, I have some people call me a white man with a tan, Native, Indian, Spanish, Italian, black, etc, and have heard every slur, every hiss, and felt every sting. Yet I understand that if I wanted to be treated with respect, I had to start acting how I wanted to be treated. I celebrate all my nationalities that my blood carries, and those close to me know that I am a multicultural born. It is possible to be treated as an equal, if you yourself act like an equal and stop using the racist slur and hatred that you hate being done to you.
This festival was filled with hatred talk, displays of hate in the dances and so on. I expected this festival to celebrate culture today, not rehash out past and relive the hate of long ago. There was no talk of FORGIVENESS, there was not talk of how each culture is moving to build strong members of society. We can not move forward if we keep putting one nationality over another, or re-hating over passed wrongs. Move forward with spreading your art, dance, music, ideas, business, etc. Show your culture today, not the hate of yesterday. Show your culture with restaurants, art galleries, and show how you can love. It is far to easy to show hate, and to hate about passed wrongs are not helping move forward, it’s just spreading more hate, and building on more hate that many people don’t even have to feel today. Show love, show forgiveness, show your culture, your faith, your love. Am I being naive? No, I don’t think so. I have forgiven being hated because of my skin colour, my sexuality, who I am has been ridiculed, raped, beaten, and abused. I forgive because I want to move forward, I never want to live behind me, I want to move forward. I am stronger because of the passed, I can not forget the passed, but I will not live the passed. This is how we move forward. Forgive!
So, the other issue with the festival was no translation. Oh, how I wanted to hear the stories of their songs. There was wonderful singing, yet no TV screen or brochure to show the words in English so others could understand the meaning better. There was no TV screen telling the story of the dances, so others could understand the dance better. It was hard to understand a dance’s meaning when there was no way of knowing what they were wanting to show. In trying to understand each other better, we need to understand what is being said, or shown.
After each performance there was a 10 to 15-minute brake. This was ridiculous. It dragged the day on so long that I wanted to leave out of sheer annoyance. Each show was about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how the performers wanted it. Then another 15-minute break. There should have been an hour or two of showing, then a 15-minute break, move the day along instead of slowing it down to a crawl.
The intermission music that was played was only Bollywood style music only different, not so up beat it was rather depressing slow style. There was no place that stated what culture it was from. I would have liked to hear music from each of the cultures that were coming up next. Get a good feel for the culture, the people and to know what was up next would have been wonderful. Instead it was very one-sided as was the food. The food was cooked beautifully, it was rice with lettuce salad and a yogurt topping. Yet no sign saying what it was called. No sign showing the nationality that is was coming from. There were no other foods to try from other cultures, just Indian style food I found on google. Again, very one-sided display. I would have liked to taste multiple culture of food. After all, food is a way to bring people together, right?
I hope the people who did this festival think of all people next time. Translations and explanation of songs, and dances. Not allow political agenda and hate to be spoken. To share all cultural food choices, and the booths to be for sharing information, not selling frenzy of only their language books. What am I going to do with a book written in your language? I can’t read it so, I am not going to understand you still. To talk about forgiveness. To move the show along in a timely manner. And please tell people to not talk on their cell phones in the bleachers during the performances. I had a woman talking the whole time on her cell phone, yelling at the person during the Russian singers. Another thing that made the whole afternoon a wash. Share small servings of food from multiple cultures, and intermission music be from all cultures in the program.
I wish that we all stop seeing race, colour, sex, religion, and start seeing us all as one nation, one people, one friend and neighbour. We do not need to relive passed to move forward. We do need to forgive and do for ourselves by building and showing who we are and what we can do together all in OUR Canada.