Kelowna poet asks community to listen to one another, instead of dividing over BLM movement | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna poet asks community to listen to one another, instead of dividing over BLM movement

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Rawle James
June 11, 2020 - 5:00 AM

A Societe Chiawa member believes to overcome issues in the past, and to deal with racism, we need to actually listen to one another.

Rawle James is an inspirational speaker, poet and part of Societe Chiwara, a non-profit that aims to help community members find their voice.

“It’s to uplift anyone that is being oppressed and to deal with injustices,” James said.

James has lived in Kelowna for the past 15 years. He was born in Trinidad, grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Toronto. His mission is to inspire and connect people on a human level with one another. 

A Black Lives Matter rally was organized last week as one of many that have been held across the world, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The Kelowna protest wasn't without controversy, however, as some organizations backed out of the event, including a black student association which posted that they would not attend the rally because they were not consulted prior to the event being organized.

James attended the rally, and commended the efforts of the organizers. He also addressed the controversy.

“We’re all part of the same humanity. I’m not trying to empower black lives, I’m trying to empower human lives. I’m trying to get people to look at our humanity by looking within and I think one of the big problems is when you’re not good with the (problems inside yourself), you’re definitely going to look for problems on the external…. These things become like fads, what we saw with the (death) south of the border we’ve seen before and people get all riled up for a bit and then they go back to their regular lives,” he said.

READ MORE: Hundreds gather for Kelowna anti-racism protest

“It’s about how to we shift our human consciousness for us to get right with the past that we have come from,” he said. “I also want people to look at what’s going on. We act like all white people are still looking to hurt black people and Indigenous people and that’s not the case.”

These issues run deeper than how they’ve been painted with broad surface-level stokes, he said.

With last week’s Black Lives Matter rally, he saw people supporting black lives and said people came together because they’re tired of the current way they’re living and want to do something to make our current society more just and fair.

People need to listen to each other, listen to voices they don’t agree with, and we need to stop practicing the same bigotry that they're fighting, he said.

“This is not a singular solution and too many people are looking for a quick fix, a silver bullet. What we’re going through is connected. There’s an economic component, political, financial, emotional, there’s a mental, spiritual component, there’s not just one solution. But if we don’t have the hard meaningful conversations and sustain the discomfort, then we’ll find it difficult to keep coming up with new solutions,” James said.

“I’m hearing white people saying ‘I want to be an ally but I don’t know how,’ and we have some facets of the black community that are beating them up, telling them they’re white privileged,” he said. “We’re not wanting to engage in meaningful conversations.”

When looking at the past, people need to stop applying today’s morals.

“We’re condemning the past as if we can undo something that has happened and that’s one of the dangers. I look back at the past not with contempt, judgement or fear, I learn from it,” he said. “Every ethnicity on this planet has gone through something and we need to stop comparing who has been most hurt, who has been most wronged.”

READ MORE: Backlash over George Floyd tweet forces out CrossFit founder

The current confusion on what to do next is a good thing though, as these issues are being brought to light, he said.

“People came out in support of each other (during the rally) and I think this isn’t going to die down. This is not just a black movement, this is a human movement, people want something different,” he said. “They’re tired of this hatred, they’re tired of the hate. What I’m trying to do is get people to appreciate all the experiences they’ve gone through, because how do you know light without dark?”


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