From the editor's desk
Those of you who read my editorials fairly regularly will notice that I tend to namedrop my hometown of Powell River with the same frequency Donald Trump says “China” or The Game offers shoutouts to his rap rivals.
Not surprisingly, I’m going to do it once again this week, but in a different way than I’ve ever done before. (Probably… although I’ve worked here so long and written so many editorials that you never really know for sure.) This time, I’m going to throw my dear little hometown under the bus.
Today’s issue of the Courier is all about diversity – more specifically, a celebration of the melting pot that is Capilano University, Canada and North America at large. Powell River, for all its charms, might be one of the least ethnically diverse places in this entire province. Counting only 735 visible minorities as of the 2006 census – Chinese (70), Korean (35), Japanese (75), South Asian (35), African Canadian (50), Filipino (60), Latin American (15), First Nations (365) – out of 13,165 full-time residents, you can see how the word “diversity” ended up being one of the more recent ones to enter my psyche. Simply put, I’ve had some major catching up to do.
Before I ever studied at Capilano University, walked the streets of Lonsdale or wandered through Greater Vancouver’s many neighbourhoods, that word rattled around my brain like a hollow soup can. Save for a bi-annual choir festival, Powell River rarely presented an opportunity to meet people of different social, sexual, spiritual or ethnic backgrounds, let alone a chance to hear their stories or appreciate some of the things they may have been through.
In Powell River’s defence, it’s not an overtly oppressive place by any means. It’s just isolated, complacent and peppered with a small army of (mostly) harmless rednecks. What I realize now, that I didn’t realize then, is that for the average Powell Riverite it’s acceptable enough to simply not be sexist, racist, homophobic – any of the phobics, really. The thought of allyship doesn’t seem to cross a lot of peoples’ minds.
A move to Vancouver in 2008 gave me one of the best wakeup calls a straight, white, male settler could have ever hoped for. Not only was that the year I learned a whole lot about privilege, but also discovered that such a thing needed to be “checked” on the regular, and how selfishly (and unknowingly) I had been taking it for granted my entire life. To be perfectly honest, I still feel sheepish even saying the word, but it’s an elephant in the room that can’t be ignored. Such things need to be acknowledged in order for any sort of progress to be made; and, after nearly 10 years in this city, it’s safe to say I’m learning more and more each day – but I’ll be the first to admit, I still screw it up a lot.
Sometimes, I can be downright crude or insensitive. Sometimes, I can be blissfully unaware that my chance to speak may be prolonging someone else’s silence; or that my own exciting opportunity could be someone else’s crushing setback. My classmates, co-workers and friends these past few years have been instrumental in shaping a new me that walks the earth with more sensitivity to these issues and the beautiful diversity that exists all around me. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to listen, learn and love like never before – but I still have a long way to go when it comes to advocation for those marginalized and oppressed (but equally important) voices in our society.
I still have a couple relatives back home who genuinely think they’ve done their part in fighting racism and supporting immigration just by ordering Chinese takeout twice a month; or that buying tickets to an Elton John concert is somehow enough of a stance against homophobia. These folks, of course, have become target numero uno for my better-late-than-never foray into allyship – but I’m going to have to do a lot better than that. So many of us are.
It is my hope that this edition of the Courier – conceptualized, pitched and brought to fruition by some of the most diverse and talented people I know – will teach you something as well. Or, if you are an individual who finds yourself living in a situation of oppression or misunderstanding, that you realize that you have a voice, a support system, a place, in your student newspaper.
We all have a part to play in promoting diversity, and it starts with acknowledging our differences, then discussing them, and then celebrating them together. It will be leaps for some of us, baby steps for others – but the most important thing is that we all head in the same direction.
This is a path I whole-heartedly hope to meet you on!
Campus Life Editor
Community Relations Manager
Arts and Culture Editor