I’m a little late to the party, but wanted to wrap up my representation series before moving on.
By now, Don Cherry’s remarks and his subsequent firing are old news.
But what intrigues me most about this story is how we defend ourselves, and what those defenses tell us about awareness and inclusion in this country (and others).
When I read the stories, Don Cherry is adamant that he meant what he said. He is super clear that he believes everyone should wear poppies for Remembrance Day.
That’s not the piece that has struck a chord in a country that says that we value diversity.
It’s the use of the words “those people”.
The fact that Don Cherry later said he wished he had used different words is too bad…because it’s the words that come out first that tell us what folks are really thinking.
And regardless of what you’re talking about, the use of those two words creates division: Us and them.
What’s in a word?
What’s in a word?
If you studied Shakespeare in high school (or elsewhere) you may remember a line about a rose…
But words are powerful.
And the meaning behind “those people” is clear – “those people” are not like “us”.
In this particular case, it “those people” are immigrants.
But “those people” could just as easily be any group that is not a group to which the speaker belongs. “Those people” could be about religion, sexual orientation, age, skin colour, abilities, how long someone has been with the company, or even the person’s role.
In and out groups
Human beings are social animals. We live “in community”. Therefore, we have in-groups and out-groups. And we form biases based on similarities and differences. Those biases often get in the way of really seeing other people. And that causes all manner of issues in the world.
What a statement like this shows to me, is the underbelly of diversity; that often there remains an us and a them. In a country like Canada, known for its politeness, it may not come out as overtly as this, but the sentimentcan exist just the same. And what it tells us is that some of us belong, and others don’t. Or that some of us belong more than others.
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(c) Copyright, Annemarie Shrouder. 2019