Racism in Calgary

Racism in Calgary, it exists. Regrettably, this is not only an issue that resides in Calgary, it’s a global one.

As a Black woman who was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to parents who immigrated from Jamaica, I was raised with good morals and was taught the “Golden Rule” as a child: treat others how you would like to be treated. 

Sadly, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Racism is taught.

Unfortunately, it’s a topic that many of us don’t discuss openly, or will share our personal experiences with respect to such, because it’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have. Yet, I cannot tell you how many people I know personally, including myself who have been subjected to racist remarks, behaviours, hate crimes and/or different forms of micro-aggressions. 

Racism needs to stop!

To be completely clear, what is racism? As defined within the dictionary, it is “A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”

Let’s dive a bit deeper, what’s institutional racism, also referred to as systemic racism?  “A policy, system of government, etc., that is associated with or originated in such a doctrine, and that favours members of the dominant racial or ethnic group, or has a neutral effect on their life experiences, while discriminating against or harming members of other groups, ultimately serving to preserve the social status, economic advantage, or political power of the dominant group.”

I truly want to understand what gave one race the belief that they were better than another? We are all human beings! We are all part of the human race. Regardless of one’s background, skin colour, language, or ethnicity, we all deserve to be treated with love, fairness, and respect. The sooner we all realize this and put these beliefs into action, the better off this world will be.

I know several successful Black women and men who work for corporate organizations that are highly educated and have applied for senior roles within an organization; however, continually they have been rejected, over, and over, and over again. It raises the question: Why? If one meets all the credentials, has significant experience and is qualified for the role, what is the real reason? One may ask, is it due to my accent, or the colour of my skin?

Research from Statistics Canada proves that across Canada, the wage gap between Black individuals and the rest of the population continues to grow. Additionally reporting, Black men and women living in Alberta’s largest cities make significantly less money than their non-Black counterparts. 

Personally, I’ve experienced racist remarks and behaviours while living and working in Calgary. Yet, if I allowed those negative, disrespectful, and ignorant behaviours to demoralize me and make me feel less than, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today.

Now thankfully, I’ve never been physically assaulted because of the colour of my skin. However, horribly so, my baby sister wasn’t so fortunate. 

On February 11, 2021, I was on the phone with my mom getting ready to head over for her birthday dinner and I’ll never forget when my mom said, “Hold on! What’s wrong Tianna? What happened? Stop crying! Talk to me.”

I instantly felt my heart drop. I asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?” 

She responded, “I don’t know. Something happened to Tianna. I have to go. I’ll call you back.”

I quickly grabbed the cake my daughter just baked for her grandmother’s birthday, asked my daughter to get her shoes on and rushed out of the house.

I arrived to see my baby sister Tianna in tears, sobbing like I’ve never seen her before. 

“Tianna, what’s wrong?” I said. She could barely get the words out of her mouth to tell me that on her way into the Dollarama store, some unknown, unmasked stranger spit on her and called the “N” word and then after doing so, looked back at her again, and repeated this derogatory racial slur. 

I immediately hugged her so tight, as tears began to fall from our eyes and told her how sorry I am that this disgusting and horrific incident happened to her. She is only 22 years old. She is a good person with good morals and is currently studying to be a nurse to help others. She is a hard-working, responsible human being. She didn’t deserve to be the victim of such a horrendous, racially targeted assault, no one does. 

Since this incident, my baby sister continues to live in fear, wondering what if she sees this racist man again, for this individual has yet to be found. She continues to have nightmares, is paranoid and anxious, as a result of one racist human being, thinking that it’s okay to inflict hatred and assault another human being.

My heart still hurts, just reflecting on this horrible situation. 

How do we, as a society, put an end to racism? What’s the solution? I wish I had the answer. However, I do believe it starts with us. It’s a collective effort and can only be solved if every individual holds the same belief system that no race is superior to another. 

We must all believe that every human being deserves to be treated fairly with love and respect and deserves equal opportunities to succeed in life, regardless of one’s race.

As a society, we need to take a serious stand against racism. We need to start speaking up not just sometimes, however, every time a racially targeted incident occurs, with the hope that justice will be served.

Enough is Enough!!