Last week in the Toronto Star there was an article about claims of homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism at The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). You can read more about the emails employees allegedly received from their superiors in the article
The first thing that comes to mind, when we read something like this, it likely “Why would you write something like that in an email? Why would you think that is ok?”
Here’s the thing about racism, Islamophobia and homophobia: they are alive and well in our society – consciously and unconsciously. Which means the expression of these beliefs is often not caught by the person expressing them, and often not flagged by those around them because they are accepted as truth. Why? Because we see and hear those beliefs around us on a daily basis in overt and covert ways. It doesn’t make it right, of course. I’m just pointing out that we haven’t rounded the corner on those isms yet: the corner of awareness that these beliefs are wrong, discriminatory, and hateful.
These beliefs and behaviours are also perpetuated by our silence. When we don’t speak up, stand up and speak out against Islamophobia, homophobia, racism (and other isms), we are offering our consent.
What’s your commitment to speaking up and standing up against discrimination?
When we make our positions clear in the circles we move in (at work, and personally) it provides opportunities for those who express any ism to be challenged and potentially examine and change their beliefs (or at the very least, their behaviour around us). It also creates opportunities for others to learn and it role models how they can be an ally. Perhaps most importantly, your voice can help to make spaces a little safer for those who are the targets of hate, and show them that they are not alone. No matter where it’s happening.