Posted in Bullying, Learning Differences, Reflections, senryû, Stigma Talks

Embrace your differences

cropped-me.jpgI am sharing a mother’s plea for parents to talk to their children about embracing their differences as well the uniqueness of others.

The video was made after her nine year old son came home upset that he was the subject of racial jokes.  Listening to her plea made me think how we, as adults, need to be better models not just in how we interact with different cultures, races and religions but also in the face of any differences. I love how Dianne does not talk about “tolerating” but embracing our differences.

A child growing with a learning difference , a teen experiencing a mental health condition, a youth struggling with his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity or a youth growing up with physical or intellectual challenges should embrace their differences and other youths should as well.

Children are not born prejudice…it is learned…modelled.  I’m not saying all children learn this from their parents.  We all know how our children learn and change when they go to school.  If they have learned a biased way of looking at the world through jokes or racial slurs they heard on the playground, then we, as adults, educators and parents have a responsibility to talk to them about this on so many levels.

Perhaps we, as adults, need to take a moment or two and take inventory on our own beliefs and feelings before speaking to our children.  Children are sensitive and savvy and can see through what is real. So take your time to reflect on your thoughts first.

We are not perfect but let’s try to be the best human we can in this imperfect world.

Who am I but me?
in all my imperfections,
I am perfect!


(c) Cheryl-Lynn ’17/02/06

Posted in Did you know?, Stigma Talks, video

Sir George Williams Riot

Concordia professor Clarence Bayne (left), director Mina Shum and producer Selwyn Jacob across the street from the Henry F. Hall Building of Concordia University. (National Film Board of Canada photo.)
Concordia professor Clarence Bayne (left), director Mina Shum and producer Selwyn Jacob across the street from the Henry F. Hall Building of Concordia University. (National Film Board of Canada photo.)


On this day, January 15,  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, the “Ninth Floor” will be shown at le Cinéma du Parc tonight in Montréal. It is a documentary on the events that took place at Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University) in 1969.   

 I was going to O’Sullivan Business College, just a few blocks away at the time. I remember the computer stand-off.  I was boarding  at my aunt’s in Montreal at the time, and still a very naïve small town girl.  I was uneasy speaking English in public at that time for tension was mounting with the Separatist movement and later on was the October Crisis with the FLQ (Federation Liberation du Québec).  I remember tucking away the Montreal Star in my bag when traveling on public transit to avoid any possible confrontation.

In the spring of 1968, six Black Caribbean students at Sir George Williams  accused a biology lecturer of racism complaining the teacher was handing out failing grades to all his Black students, regardless of the quality of their work. (Credits: Black History Canada

I remember my family telling me not to walk by the Henry Hall building on boulevard de Maisonneuve, in case there would be riots.  And there was a riot!

Reading more about the events back then, today I shake my head in disgust at how our city, our province and our country mistreated students standing up for justice.  It IS fitting that this film be viewed tonight.  It shows events never seen or reported (so much was distorted) to the public of the largest student uprising in Canadian history, the Sir George Williams Computer Riot, February 11, 1969. February, which is also Black History month…interesting how history plays out.

Read more here:

Concordia University Archives

Nouveau Cinéma, Ninth Floor

The Montreal Gazette

Mostly Movies

Rosie Douglas




Posted in Bullying, Compassion

Be the change!

We often advise youths how powerful bystanders/witnesses of bullying can be. It has been proven on school playgrounds, in school hallways, if a group of bystanders spoke up about their disapproval of any kind of intimidation or cruel bullying, it usually stops within seconds.

True, many are afraid to get bullied in retaliation if it is only one or two who speak up. I get that. In fact sometimes it is safer to walk away but sometimes even speaking “after” the bullying is helpful too. Telling a person that you feel bad for them or that you understand how difficult this must be.  That can go a long way, telling a youth, they were acknowledged.

As adults we are not much different than youths on playgrounds. On the subway, bus or train, what do we do if someone starts making rude, racist comments to someone?  Do we look the other way?  Do we move to another seat to get away from the person?  Anyone who takes public transit, has witnessed this more than once.

Here is a video that restores hope…it shows how much power we can have in situations like this.  A group of people who know what it means to “be the change”


Muslim woman tells how Newcastle passengers
ejected racist from train



Posted in Bullying, Did you know?, Reflections

Digging graves with racial panic

face of canada
10 Photos of Canada That Will Make You Feel Lucky You Live There


I am relieved I don’t have cable or satellite.  I listen to Netflix and many videos on YouTube. If I want to know what is going on in the world, I know soon enough from fellow bloggers. Other news I flip through my Twitter feed and scroll down reading one or two articles. I find I can function better this way and do the work I am paid to do calmly and with compassion.

I could pick up a local newspaper and every day I would probably find some comment with a racial slur; too often I hear or overhear comments that intensify entitlement, ownership and intolerance.

The other day we were discussing among friends on cultural differences and how this has impacted us on the way we were raised in our families. One person referred to a person of a specific cultural descent and made a “You know how They can be” comment which I inquired, “what do you mean by “they”” This person you refer to is Canadian, born and raised.” He sheepishly responds, “Well you know what I mean.”

Well unfortunately I do know what they mean when they make comments like that but in fact, I stressed, most of us here, in this province, are from European or British heritage. And the only people who were here FIRST were First Nations People. The conversation died quickly as he turned off to do something else or probably to get away from me. I guess, I can be a pain the arse sometimes.

When does this way of thinking end? My experience is nothing compared to so many people who immigrated here two and three generations ago. I only had to deal with silly comments like “well, you’re not of Quebec roots.” Oh no!? My maternal grandfather’s family came here probably 200 years ago from France. And yet many cultures of “visible minorities” have been here longer than that and still are slighted with ignorant comments and insults.

Whenever there is a national or international crisis people seem to regress back to bad old habits. Why can’t we offer our sympathy and compassion to those touched by tragedy without spewing hatred and vengeance?

I am so relieved I do not have television and do not listen to radio either. Just scrolling through some Twitter and Facebook feeds is enough to give me nightmares. To read the comments of some, however, can be more frightening.

What worries me is the reaction of people these days after the Paris tragedy.   I worry about the Canadian Syrian refugee plan and hope this will not be delayed. I even hear among acquaintances about their mixed feelings. I am shocked at the loud outbursts voicing their opinions. Having read an interesting article about Racial Panic, shared by a fellow blogger on Facebook, I remind them of historical events in 1939 about Jewish refugees and most people look at me with a blank stare. How do I read this poker face? Is it lack of knowledge or hatred? I am praying it might be ignorance and now they will be curious to research this. Yeah, that’s right, they will Google this and learn more …right? Or am I being naïve again?

If not, then perhaps we should all consider finding a place like Michael describes in his story of 100 words or less for Friday Fictioneers titled “Below the Grid”

The End

Posted in Re-blogs, Stigma Talks

Colour-Blind & Colourless

Such beautiful poems articulated so nicely and yet, lends a powerful message to think about…a MUST read. Cheryl-Lynn


These two poems are for Sahm King and We Drink Because We’re Poets, following his magnificent monday prompt.  Best wishes from Baldy.




A world absent colour,

Blight upon the eye,

Love prefers a broader palette,

Not shades that cry,

Friendship enjoys a tapestry,

Of vibrancy and delight,

Rid the world of races,

Be one with all tonight.





A world holds its breath,

As gods, observing,

Stand idle, perhaps helpless,

Themselves as undeserving,

Individuals are punished,

By cruel despots, our kin,

Made slaves again to hate and pain,

For wearing different skin.


Is it not enough that poverty,

And famine causes such strife?

We go to war over religion,

And rape what’s good in life,

Racism – So ridiculous!

Bless all the flesh’s hues,

It’s about time we were responsible,

Some still need to change their views.

View original post

Posted in Stigma Talks

xenophobia or racism?

Sometimes the world disappoints me to no end
and I think that`s why I don’t watch the news…much;
I don`t read newspapers, don`t listen to radio news,
but I do check news feeds on social media,
check on Twitter now and then
and there is always a friend
or colleague at work
who will share the news especially
when it is bad news, “Oh, did you hear?”
My colleagues all know I am oblivious
to local news as well.
But when I drive I tend to listen
to the news on the radio now and then.
And I did catch a few news feeds recently
and that is what I am sharing today.

It’s old news for some…several days but hey,
some may not know and it’s an issue that irks
me a lot so I’m sharing this here.

The issue is regarding human rights and racism.
The good news is that in Quebec, Liberal leader,Philippe Couillard,
says Quebec Values Charter
will become law over his dead body.
That’s good, I guess, but the fact
he has to even do that makes me sick
that our elected government, paid by our hard
earned money are even acting like this.

Facebook has a photo circulating
of a woman wearing her Hijab;
it is in response to an incident
that occurred in Sweden
an attack on a pregnant women
wearing her Hijab.
Many Swedish woman and some men banned together
in solidarity by wearing scarfs and hijabs
and posted their photos wearing this on Facebook.
Well good on the women and many men in Sweden for taking a stand!

I realize  that there are several
European countries that also ban the right
to wear any religious head gear. Well, Quebec is not
Europe and the rest of Canada accepts this, so I hope
this charter is NOT accepted. What does it matter if
Muslim women wear this? How is this offensive?
In on breath they are arguing we are not supposed
to show any religious allegiance in public government
positions but in another breath they are “judging” these women
by saying they are oppressed and we don’t like this.
There are plenty of oppressed women who are not
of any particular faith, driving Mercedes or BMW’s or
taking the bus with a black eye…oppression has no
discrimination. It is not limited to one particular
culture. And to stigmatize each Muslim woman as oppressed
is wrong and even worse when you are using this as an excuse
to spread your intolerance of ANY culture and ANY race and religion.

On Saturday, September 14th, people from multiple faiths
marched in Montreal to protest Quebec’s proposed charter of values.
One student says the law, is ‘oppressive.’
I tend to agree. And it irks me when I hear about how women
are denigrating any women wearing a Hijab.
I ask you, who is oppressing whom now?

I heard on a French speaking Talk show tonight, on Montreal Quebecois channel
the host kept saying, “But the Hijab is a sign of oppression
and it is forced upon these women by the “men” in their lives.”
He was ranting away as if he knew this as fact because somehow he
had heard “these men” force “these women”.

I do beg to differ. Yes, I know that there may be many who
may be forced but just as there are many who choose
to wear the Hijab. Why can’t we respect this?

A former colleague in Toronto explained to me that
at 15 she decided she wanted to cover her head/hair.
Her father had not imposed this on her; her sisters
had not opted for this…it was simply her choice.
I find people including women here who are rude, who
spit and make mean slurs to Muslim women
are actually the ones oppressing these women!

Why all these attacks on women and their Hijabs?
Are people such cowards that they attack only women?
There are plenty of men of various faiths who also cover
their heads but I seem to hear and see people sneer at
women. Again, who is oppressing whom?

There is an article that made me livid,
upset and sickened me. It was after
the Miss America Pageant.
Miss New York, Nina Davuluri
was announced as the winner
and within minutes tweets
started going rampant with racist slurs…
that Miss New York who is of Indian descent,
was not American. Some tweets referred her as
a terrorist! Hello!!! She IS an American!  Wake up America!
So those who act so bigoted on Twitter
and tweeted such slurs cowardly
might I refer to them as “twits”?

In late August, a man insulted and taunted
a Muslim woman on a bus who was wearing a hijab.
His remarks were rude and racist. . He was mocking
her and telling her she should go back home, and
that soon she will have to remove her “tuque” referring to her Hijab.
Hearing his comments, it seems they may have stemmed from
the talk of Premier Pauline Marois’ Charter
banning any religious symbols for certain government
appointed jobs such as nurses and daycare workers.

And lastly, a  Muslim woman spit on and insulted as well as assaulted in Quebec City.

The provincial minister, Jean-Francois Lisée, tasked with reaching out to the English community  says he knew the Charter of Values would create a firestorm of controversy. Read and watch more: Minister calls for calm charter debate while bigots berate Hijab-wearing women.

This does not make me very proud of people in Quebec and to the world, we look like any other racist, bigoted, intolerant people. That is not a message I like to portray to the world, do you?  I have had arguments with friends on this topic.  Some have expressed their opinions again, insisting that we, women have fought for years for our rights and equality but they do not understand that wearing the Hijab is a religious gesture.  My question is, why are you not asking more about what this Hijab represents to women? Why are you giving the lame excuse that you are defending the rights of women when you oppress and attack these women?

Debates with our current government?  Yeah, right!  François Lisée already announced in that CTV clip that he feels the Charter of Values is a good idea just as he felt the language law Bill 101 was controversial at the time in 1977 but it was a change much needed.  Well, I don`t see why he is mixing language laws with human rights but hey, what do I know? And if he is already saying it “is a good idea and for the betterment of Quebec history” why the debate?  A farce to pretend this government is listening…yeah, right…

Enough said…I’m going to bed.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, Stigma Hurts Everyone, September 18, 2013

Posted in Bullying, Stigma Talks

“I Have A Dream!”

Since we are on a theme of bullying, homophobia, racism and human rights this week,  coincidentally on this day, August 28th, 50 years ago  the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. marched in Washington and gave his memorable speech, “I have a Dream!”.  I’ve included the Youtube video of his speech.

This morning, The Montreal Gazette reported over 100 churches were ringing their bells in honour of the famous Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.. MLK;   I wonder what the Reverend King would have to say about America’s current president.  Society is slowly changing, I hope in regards to racism as well as any type of intolerance.    A brilliant blogger and writer/poet  read an interesting sentence to me yesterday, nokindofmagic “Maturity and strength of society is best found in the way it treats minorities.”

Wouldn’t it be great that this would be a sign of a mature society and that we would also “embrace” our differences!.   Namaste

Related articles:

CBC News World

The Montreal Gazette

Posted in Bullying, Stigma Talks

Bullies BEGONE!!

kids going to class - Clip Art Gallery
Clip Art Gallery

We’re nearing September
A school year returns
But some may remember
What they may have learned.
I don’t mean from books
or teachers and such
but words that can hurt
the heart very much.

You’re fat! you’re ugly!bullying-hurts-any-child.jpg
You smell really bad!
You’re weird, you’re different!
You talk real funny!

These are a few slugs
that make them feel sad.

It’s wicked enough to be
bullied like this
but some are now facing
forbidding cruel taunts
of a sexual nature.

They wag their fingers
And snicker and sneer,bullying
begin their lip service
and calling them queer.
The more exploitation
these bullies give out
the targets will fear
where, there and here.
Schools should be safe
For all that attend
And not be a place
Where one feels disgraced.

Their nights become haunts
evoking mean features;
can’t sleep on most nightsse_high_school_bullying
they’ve imparted new rites!

Indeed ,it’s not fair
and it’s cruel and unkind
to see youths abused
who deserve to have fun.

At some of these schools
that doesn’t appear
to occur very often
to most other peers.

The witnesses and bystanders
The teachers and the janitors
Admin assists, Lunch monitors
Principal and counsellors
Should ALL band together
And not be remiss
Just all stick together
and put an end to all this!

Hey Society!
Listen Up!
It’s time to stop being so remiss
and put an end to all this!

Racial oppression
Mental cruelty
Cultural shame
Sexual assault and
Verbal abuse
Physical violence
Sexting, texting and
Cyber abuse
Gender discrepancies
Homophobic BULLYING!

Hey Society!
Listen up!
Stop being so remiss!
It’s time to put an END to all THIS!

© Cheryl-Lynn @ Stop The Stigma, Aug. 27, 2013

Posted in Stigma Talks

Rant droppings of racism!

b me november 3

I’m BACK already!! These are rant droppings left over from hearing a few comments the other day and it made me think that maybe we just need to be reminded.  So here goes…

Have you ever heard jokes about cultures that may have passed as sort of funny to some folks but were not really?  Have you ever felt that uneasy feeling, you know that feeling where you feel like squirming in your seat?  Aw, you know what I mean.  That person who makes a remark thinking nothing of it when he says such and such about someone, and uses a derogatory term once too often heard and tolerated about a certain culture, race or religion.

The joke just slides because you are pretty sure that this person is just not racist. And yet, why am I shifting in my seat when I hear it?  That person might even be your boss, so what are you going to do?  It could be a good friend or relative whom you love, so what now?  It could be a colleague you work with infrequently and you wonder to yourself, “Do I really want to get into this?”

Sometimes you may say something, and sometimes you just may let it slide, but you still will not laugh;  still, you haven’t said anything and THAT is a very awkward  feeling…just to sit and not stand up for what you believe.  And why would you? The person didn’t say it in bad faith, so why make a stink about it?

That very religious person who may say, “Oh, aren’t you concerned to marry that person who is from a different culture, a different race and still not marry in a church that you were baptized?  Aren’t you concerned it may sort of bring you bad luck?”  {Yes, I kid you not on that comment!…sigh!}

That  squirmy feeling I get at the pit of my stomach reminds me of past times when I was a kid, listening to inappropriate racist, sexist or vulgar jokes my father used to dribble. My sister and I would just smile, sort of,  and pretend we thought it was cool or funny.  But what was the alternative?  To have him look at us with disgust as if we were not intelligent enough to grasp his “higher intelligent” meaning in that statement?  He could mutter with impatience that we were too stupid to understand anything.  The message here was, if you can’t find a racist, sexist or vulgar joke funny, you were just not smart enough to be part of the human race.  {That’s okay.  We somehow, knew that he was wrong but were smart enough to just shut our mouths and count our blessings without a huge negative reaction.}

It is the same feeling many of us get when someone is bullying another person, making snide remarks and as a bystander, it makes you feel pretty lousy but you may not respond to the bullying.   Do you know what I mean?

That’s how I was feeling the other day when I heard a comment about a religious group.   I knew with all my heart that there wasn’t any unkindness in the remark.  And another time when hearing a joke that seemed quite harmless but there was a young and impressionable youth present, I felt inclined to be a little more assertive and gently but firmly interject my correction in the way the culture was defined.

That was very hard for me to do because I didn’t want to offend the person; a defensive response may come into play and so I have to prepared to speak up, yet again.  Why is it difficult to do?  Because often,  I know that a person means no harm, it was just a joke! Don’t we always say that, “It was just a joke”?   So if you want things in life to change or even make a dent in that change, you have to be willing to be “part of that change”.  And so, I did and am trying to do.

For example, is it funny to make jokes about Indians?  Well, if you are an Indian, meaning that you are from India and want to make some jokes, I suppose that’s just honky dory, as long as  your audience is not offended…I guess.    But the insinuations I may hear  are directed to our First Nations people and no, they are not Indian.  Perhaps governments give them “Indian” status and in many conferences this term “Indian” is proper.  But let’s not be splitting hairs now.  When I hear jokes to that effect today,  many people are NOT even thinking of that!  They are just bad old habits not yet broken.   When they are voiced in front of younger people, children and teens for example, what are you teaching them?  Yes, racism is taught.  It is never ever inherent! It is simply learned from a person’s environment.  That silly joke that an uncle, cousin or grandparent said about that guy from Germany, Japan, Italy or New Guinea just to name a few, may not be proper anymore. It never was but today, we are trying to think and talk less bigoted.  Some communities are adamant about the fact that they are not racist…I tend to agree with some…they appear to be xenophobic, just plain intolerant of anyone or anything different from them.

I love comedy and I often tape shows for comedy relief and laugh therapy especially when I come home after a long shift late at night.  Some of the shows that I record on my PVR are The Big Bang Theory, Roseanne, All in the Family and The Jeffersons.    Comic relief does wonders to kick back and unwind.

By the way, you do know that the remarks from Archie Bunker in All in the Family about his son-in-law he calls Meathead and other derogatory names referring to his Polish homeland are not truly serious, right?   They are comments said with tongue in cheek, you know, the kind of comment to make us laugh at OURSELVES.  That’s right!  When Archie snarled at his neighbour Mr. Jefferson, he was not actually serious!  For those who thought he was well, folks, I hate to break the news to ya’all, the joke was then on YOU!  An African-American friend of mine once remarked about “Archie Bunker” saying that he thought that show was way ahead of its time.  Is it politically correct to hear jokes like that?  I guess not but Archie was not racist…he was mimicking the absurdity of it all.

You want to pick out radio talk shows that are deathly racist and obnoxious?  There are plenty but I don’t have to and do NOT listen to any Howard Stern type shows…good grief!

I can say that I find certain jokes within our own country (Canada) not so funny either, like the French and English issue is a lot more strained than one may care to admit especially during election time.  I am sure in other countries tensions rise during other specific times as well.  Am I right?

I am half French and the other half is English, Irish and Welsh;  I can laugh at myself and I am exposed to both fronts of attacks.    I love my mother’s French Quebecois ancestry;  I love my Anglophone heritage…mostly raised with our Irish Catholic traditions that seemed to go well with French Canadian Catholic values.

I don`t like the  bitterness directed at my other half (Anglophone) though and I don`t like any kind of deliberate cruelty on anyone.  If a person cannot speak French when he visits my hometown, Montreal, for instance, why would I give him the cold shoulder?  Why would a person try to pretend he does not understand?  If it is pride or vanity displaced, then just admit by saying you don’t speak English,  “Excusez, je ne comprend pas l’anglais”  just say it man!  But when you say this in perfect English to tourists visiting here, “I don’t speak English”…grrrr, I could slap you silly just like that, I could!

I am not talking about past histories of oppression.  Give it a rest, will you!   I am not talking about frayed nerves…I am talking about plain courtesy…manners!! So pull up your boot straps and tie them up and button your lip when you feel like spewing garbage and projecting old resentments to people who are just visiting…sheeesh!   I feel so ashamed, sometimes, hearing some people act so darn cruel.

And if there are people who have lived here (Quebec) for years and still do not speak French, well, you still can answer politely in the language of said customer or visitor if they are passing through your commercial lair.  Why on earth would you refuse a customer?  Get over yourself and start being a human being!  If you have a business, this is actually good business sense.

The same goes to any town in other English provinces in Canada! …if you don’t speak French when someone passes through, at least try to be polite about it and just say so in English or broken French.  Heck, if they are speaking German, Chinese, Russian or Arabic such as, use your hands, feet and try signing it takes that to help someone!!  Stand on your head if you have to!

Did you ever notice that most people who WILL see that you are willing to still communicate regardless of the language barrier are more open to listen?  They may even sign, draw, and write on paper to communicate.   Don’t block communication!  You never know, IF that next person who comes into your store or visits your town/city may just be a person who could change your life!   Each and every meeting with human beings, however small, impacts on you in some way.  That is how we grow and are enriched with the abundance of wisdom and insights in all our interpersonal relationships.

What irks me are the stereotyping and generalizations.  I remember at a former employment, a communications manager said to me, “Gee,  you sure don’t act English”  My response was, “Why?  Because I’m not rich and live on the mountain in Westmount.”  He sort of smiled sheepishly.

To conclude this little piece, I just want to suggest that you be more aware of  old fashioned insensitive jokes.  Be prepared to have someone come back at you with a response to let you know you have muffed up…a little.  To the bystander of such remarks, start interjecting and being part of the change.  After you have done it a few times, you will slowly get into the habit of making a comment to take a stand. It needn’t be a loud outburst…just a comment calmly and wisely added can make a whole lot of difference…and you will be making a huge dent in this huge discriminatory machine.  Be part of the change!

Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, August, 13, 2013