Where are your moments of peace?

Find them to help take down white supremacy

Welcome to At The End Of the Day. I’m Hannah Sung. I write this newsletter for a people-first perspective on the news.

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This week has been a strange mix. News headlines have been devastating while the tangible world around me is becoming ever brighter -- literally.

Every day, the weather is perfect. My kids are laughing again, wolfing down daily popsicles and ice creams with friends.

And this morning started with a frisson of excitement as my nine-year-old took part in reading out the school announcements for the first time.

During announcements, anybody who has a birthday gets their name read out. This was my son’s big moment to deliver a Google slide he had prepared, based on information given to him by the school office. He read it out calmly and clearly, in English and French: “Happy birthday to, joyeux anniversaire à NOBODY.”

I laughed so hard. Just a funny, little moment and I was proud, too, because this is a kid who nervously sweet-talked his way out of a public speaking presentation a few years ago (I was amazed — teachers will let you off the hook like that?).

I cling to small moments of delight because the news lately has been gutting. 

Grief and productivity don’t mix

It’s disorienting to have moments of sunshine and laughter while grieving over the big stories in the news.

This week, it was anti-Muslim hatred in headlines as four members of a family were killed in a hate-motivated attack in London, ON, leaving a nine-year-old boy orphaned.1

Last week, it was the news of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children found at Kamloops residential school.

A few months ago, it was anti-Asian hate in Atlanta as eight people were murdered, six of them Asian women, targeted in their workplaces for being Asian. 

One year ago, the world flooded the streets by the millions to protest anti-Black racism and police brutality, galvanized by the murder of George Floyd. 

These news stories all have one common denominator: white supremacy.

Just say it —“white supremacy”

They’re just two words but “white supremacy” seem like tough words to say. They shouldn’t be. If we want it to change, we have to name it. White people need to be able to say it.

I’m done with people saying, “This isn’t Canada.” Where do you think we are? Yes, it absolutely is Canada.

On Tuesday morning, I was in a prescheduled meeting with a group of dazzlingly smart and thoughtful women. We were supposed to discuss some business moves but instead spent our meeting debriefing the news coverage of what had happened in London, ON. 

When several of us mentioned how we felt “frozen,” and how hard it can be to know exactly how to respond, my friend Stacy said, “But we have responded. Last week and the week before that. It’s white supremacy and we’ve said all the things.”

She’s right. And it’s exhausting.

This week, Jeff Bennett, a former Progressive Conservative candidate in London, ON, was praised for pointing out that he witnessed the casual, deep racism of everyday people while door-knocking for votes in 2014.2

His Facebook message was shared over 3000 times. It was screencapped and shared by many. He was featured on the radio.3

Of course, I am all for appreciating when people speak out. But I wonder how much we can praise one white man for telling it like it is when these are observations people of colour share every day of the week.

To me, what’s worth recognizing is how much he regretted not speaking up in the moment, when it might’ve actually cost him a vote. I’m letting it remind me that we never regret solidarity when we look back. They are our proudest moments.

So point out white supremacy. Condemn it, especially if you’re white. It is literally the link between so many news stories that consume, enrage and sadden us.

These past few weeks, I’ve put a cap on how long I spend reading the news. I follow breaking news, maybe too closely, and then for a few days, I try to minimize what I consume just to get back to some sort of equilibrium.

This week, I was listening to a podcast conversation on the topic of how people can deal with the pain of racism and become a better advocate. In the conversation, Zen priest and activist angel Kyodo williams said, “You have to be peace with yourself to tolerate suffering in the world.” 4

So I’ve been letting myself be more about peace than productivity this week.

And today, in my camera roll, I found photo evidence of small moments of peace.

These flower pics are those moments, evidence that I got outside, out of my head, and noticed something else besides the vicarious trauma and grief of our systems of oppression.

What are the small things that bring you peace? Tell me on IG. I may even swap out my work to-do list for whatever it is that you tell me to do.

It’s an exhausting life right now. Grief isn’t on anyone’s timetable and it isn’t convenient. But it makes us human. I hope you find a few moments of peace this weekend and that however brief, the moments are perfect.

Thank you for reading,

Hannah

✨✨✨ This newsletter was edited by Laura Hensley ✨✨✨


Last week, I ran a childrens’ book giveaway for two books, When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett, and Go Show The World by Wab Kinew, with pictures by Joe Morse. 

Thank you for entering and congrats to Claire! Books will be heading your way soon.

These titles were recommended by Nicole Stamp, who just wrote a brilliant primer on how to discuss racial injustice toward Indigenous Peoples with your young children, age 0 - 8.

Thanks for the wisdom, Nicole!


Further Reading

Why are white people afraid to say ‘white supremacy?’ The Record

This Is *Exactly* Who We Are, Friday Things (my brilliant, afore-mentioned friend Stacy)

‘When Is London Going to Wake Up?’ Muslims Describe the Terror of Living in Canadian City Where Family Was Killed, VICE

A Twitter thread I stumbled on this week on how seed money for Hudson’s Bay Company (and therefore Canada as we know it) likely came from the transatlantic slave trade.

Darnella Frazier, Who Filmed George Floyd's Murder, Wins An Honorary Pulitzer, NPR

Why should I have to train my hijabi daughter to protect herself in public? TRT World

2

Jeff Bennett Facebook post on the anti-Muslim attitudes he encountered while door-knocking for votes in London, Ontario in 2014.

4

EP 2: How to deal with the pain of racism — and become a better advocate, Don’t Call Me Resilient podcast from The Conversation.


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