Tag Archives: sports

Recognizing Discrimination in a Multicultural Society

18 Sep

I just saw the news about the Blue Jays player Yunel Escobar  who had a homophobic slur written in his eye-black during a game this weekend.

It reminded me of the challenges of recognizing discrimination in a multicultural society.

If Escobar played the whole game with these words on his face, a few things come up for me:

1. Either no one else on the team speaks Spanish, or none of them cared (or cared to speak up). If it’s the latter, it’s problematic either way.
2. If no one speaks Spanish, wasn’t anyone curious or is writing in your eye-black a common thing?
3. And how brazen!  Millions of people would see that message on TV, watching the game (all the more reason to ask questions #1 and #2). So I’m going to ask: did no one care to find out what this said? Or for those that knew, why didn’t anyone say or do something?

The answers are obvious, in some ways. Speaking up can be difficult. But especially with so much at stake (How many people watch a baseball game? How many are kids? How many kids idolize baseball players and want to be like them?) someone should have asked and/or said something. Remember, silence equals complicity.

In a society where many language are spoken, it gets a little more complicated, and our responsibility includes asking questions and educating ourselves about the words that can hurt in different languages.
Especially as teachers or people in positions of authority – or role models.
If you want to stand up against discrimination, you have to be able to recognize it, and to do so, you have to know what the hurtful words are  – and not just in English.

Of course, some people worry that exposing the slurs – in any language – teaches them, and that they will be used more. Especially in schools.
That may be. But the alternative is that people are being targeted and bullied without our knowledge. And we can’t stand for that, especially in schools.

So. Take some time to learn the slang, so that when you hear it, you can speak out against it. It could make all the difference to the person being bullied.

Egale Canada has a Terms and Concepts page on the My GSA website that includes slang. Check it out.
Finally, this is homophobia in action: the words Escobar wrote in his eye-black as well as the silence. Homophobia is rampant in the sports world. If you haven’t seen Brian Burke’s If You Can Play, You Can Play campaign yet (anti-homophobia in the NHL), have a look. Baseball should get on board.

See more.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.


Thoughts about racism…

1 May

I have to weigh in on last week’s goal by Joel Ward in Stanley Cup Playoff overtime, and the racism on Twitter that ensued.

What I want to talk about was the last line of an article I read in the Metro News – a quote by one of the individuals who tweeted racist comments: “I’m not a racist. Just the heat of the moment.”

What does that mean? And what does it say to us about the nature of racism in our society?
Does this really hold up as an argument in this person’s defense?
It’s telling that the person seems to think it does.

Here is some food for thought:

1. As a facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion, I understand that racism (and other “isms”) are often unconscious. We absorb negative messages through various media (and education, and people, etc.) and we feed it back without interrogating ourselves. (Remember the “chink in the armour” comment in the NBA a few months back?)

2. I think many people think of racism (and other “isms”) as overt and violent, and forget about (or don’t recognize) the subtle ways that we can perpetuate these ideas and beliefs.

3. There is being racist (think Archie Bunker from All in the Family) and then there is racist behaviour (see above).  Either way we have a problem (and the Human Rights Commission looks at impact, not intent) but maybe the roots don’t go as deep in the latter, and maybe in that case by raising awareness we can create change since maybe it’s not embedded in a person’s beliefs.

The biggest issue for me in all of this, however, is not even so much that these racist Tweets occurred (since, as I mentioned, I’m not surprised by this, sadly) but that someone can use “the heat of the moment” as an excuse for racism. It speaks volumes of how deeply racism (and other “isms”) are embedded into the fabric of our society.

There is much work left to do…

See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.

Homophobia in Football

7 Jul

Ah yes, Jason Akermanis….

I’m a little behind the news, I admit, but I have to comment on Jason Akermanis’ column.

Having  just read the column in the Herald, a few things stand out.

Firstly, he is right in suggesting that coming out as an athlete presents some different challenges. We’ve seen the evidence in the low numbers and in the published accounts of those that have (Mark Tewksbury and his book Inside Out comes to mind). While we have made strides in the workplace, a team locker room is not the same environment. Obviously.

Secondly he suggests that the sport is not ready for it. Given his column, if his feelings represent those of footballers, then he is probably correct. Sadly.

But more than this, what struck me most is the homophobia inherent in his column. The discomfort in the locker room pales in comparison to the discomfort of spending your life hiding (and often hating) who you really are because of fear due to homophobia. 

I’m so tired of everything gay being linked to sex. Sexual orientation is ONE part of a human being’s identity. We all have a sexual orientation. Straight people are not attracted to everyone of the opposite sex that they meet, nor are they scoping everyone out. Neither are gays and lesbians. Get over it.

If shower time is uncomfortable in the locker room, it’s because  of the homophobic crap people have been taught and learned over the years and the unfounded fear of others that ensues.

It’s time to take a good look at the problem – homophobia – rather than continuing to blame gays and lesbians for simply wanting the right to be who we are out loud.

See more.

Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Thought Provoker

© Copyright  Annemarie Shrouder 2010

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