Warning: This post is my reaction to the Terror Attack in New Zealand.
I don’t know if I am in the right headspace to type this. My heart is heavy, my brain is angry, and I feel lost. I can’t articulate how I feel in words that make sense.
I am a high school English teacher and I love my job but I am also aware of the “subtle” racism that exists in New Zealand. The swastikas I see in and on children’s books and their hands. The language used and the casual way people, not just students, joke about things. I have made jokes about white supremacists in the past. Maybe it was a way of distancing myself from that behaviour because I sure did not want to be associated in any way to people who have abhorrent ideologies.
But there is a level of guilt that I feel. We need to speak up more. We need to be better allies, friends, and voices. We need to listen to people of colour and believe their experiences. We need to be better.
I, like many other New Zealanders, believed that we were safe from any form of terrorist attack. We are all aware of the racism that Maori and people of colour face in NZ and around the world but I doubt many of us thought an attack would happen. That was something that happens far away from here.
But not any more.
I have always attempted to acknowledge my privilege. I present as white, regardless of my rather mixed background. I jokingly refer to myself as a bitsa. There is some Maori in there, some Native American, Romany Gypsy and “50 shades of white bread” as I jokingly tell my students. But I can’t joke about anything like this.
I am heartbroken that the Muslim people who have made New Zealand their home have been attacked so viciously and openly. A Religion that promotes peace above all other things.
I am angry that people are trying to spin this terrorist act in another light.
I am angry that hate has been given a platform.
I am angry I had to explain what was happening to my 13 year old niece. Her words were “why does he hate Muslims?”
I am sad that families are broken. Friends are broken. We are all a little broken.
I want to help people. But, today, I am feeling helpless while others are desperate for help.
I don’t want this hatred to win. I believe that the majority of people are inherently good. That the majority are kind.
So – I am sending my thoughts and aroha to all involved. I am going to speak up more and I am going to be a better ally. And I am going to condemn all forms of racist talk.
To the Muslim community in New Zealand – you are loved, wanted, and needed here. I will be your ally.
To my fellow kiwis – we are strong and we are going to do better.
The quote below was sent to me by a friend in America and it resonates with me so much.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
― Fred Rogers
So – New Zealand – spread love and kindness because, as we know, love trumps hate.