“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome” – Rosa Parks
It is telling when I have to leave a link explaining who Rosa Parks is but, what to me is recent history, seems to be buried deep in the sands of time to younger generations. The tragedy of yet another hate motivated shooting at the California Synagogue on the last day of Passover has raised the spectre of Rosa Parks words in my mind.
What prompted me to speak out was the tweet of one of Calgary’s new generation of influencers, Jason Ribeiro. Jason’s tweet was referencing a two day old Globe and Mail report on the growth of hate groups in Canada. I believe Jason may have been referencing one of the victims, Lori Kaye as a member of the “Greatest Generation” (Silent Generation), that group of people who took a stand against fascism by standing up to it in World War 2. The generation that spawned the “baby-boomers”.
I have gotten to know Jason through my own involvement with social media. I am one of those baby-boomers who thrives in this new world using it extensively. As I have indicated before, living in a wheelchair limits one’s retirement activity however I have always been committed to life long learning and social media does the trick. Rather than spending hours on the golf course, hiking in the Kananaskis or kayaking down the Bow River I spend hours in front of my computer. That’s how I was introduced to Jason. I believe we are like minded in our belief around change and without a doubt Jason is pushing for change by advancing Calgary’s status in the world of industry.
I recently met Jason face to face and discovered he was much younger than I had thought (that an easier way of saying how old of a fart I am). There is a forty year span between the two of us. I believe we are both true activist with the best of the community at heart but I have 40 years of history on him. Jason is non-stop dealing with the issues of today from commerce to diversity. I consider myself an encyclopedia of activism history which brings me back to the Rosa Parks quote I started with. Hopefully I can use my experiences to provide some insights so Jason doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
One of the down sides of social media is the generational divide it has created between the baby-boomers and the Millenials. Most baby-boomers have reached that point in their life they worked so hard to attain, a positive retirement, something they have accomplished using 80’s thinking. Technology has changed the way people advance in todays society however to most baby-boomers social media is about checking their Facebook page for the newest pictures of their grandchildren, doing their banking or booking vacations.
Many of them still enjoy the feel of the local newspaper in their hand with their morning coffee. They have worked hard to reach the comfort of their “bubble zone” and the challenges of the new world is disturbing. Change is difficult for anyone but the discomfort of change can be avoided if one tunes out the negativity going on around them. One cannot slight them for that however it has certainly polarized the community. Their avoidance of that negativity is like putting fertilizer on already fertile ground for the growth of hate and bigotry. Recognition of that growth is expressed in the hopefulness of Jason’s tweet however Twitter is a messaging technique that is as useful to most baby-boomers as street maps are to a herd of cattle. To me that is a major problem: how do we live up to Rosa Parks quote when we are no longer communicating? How do we prepare our children (not saying Jason is a child but I am old enough to be his father) when we are using different communication tools? As baby-boomers I am of the belief that we have a responsibility to be mentors to the generations behind us.
I have had over 60 years of personal experience of living with the gains begun by the likes of Rosa Parks and I believe I have a responsibility to share those. I have 45 years of experience playing the game by the rules laid out by a system of advocacy that was based on educate, participate, coordinate and anticipate while most of what I received was placate. I spend 40 years in that choir but as the generational chasm widens that choir has become tone deaf. They are still waging a war with paper while not knowing the technology of today.
I don’t want my legacy to be tons of reports buried in some bureaucrats filing cabinet (and yes they are that old that they are still paper files and not digitized) with no action really happening except for the breeze created by the pats on the head. The “In Unison” is over 20 years old and continues to collect dust in some filing cabinet while government continue build bureaucracy’s that can meet regularly to “strategize”. The time for strategizing should be over and we should be deep into action. So now I use the tools of today and focus my energy by sharing the knowledge I have gained over fifty years with the Jason’s of the world.
In closing to those who see social media as “just another fad” there is a scary reality to it. Something as simple as a TV show like Supergirl develops plots and storylines based on fear and bigotry. This season has been focused on the distrust and hate of those that are different. Now it is an analogy but the message is there. The CW TV series has a Twitter following of over 684,000 people with a demographic viewing audience between 18 and 40 (last season over 2.36 million viewers). That is a lot of influence. The ripple effect of social media is wide and can be very insidious when responsible people don’t help put it in context. Bigot’s are not born, they are nurtured. We all have a part to play in support of Jason’s tweet posted above. Mine is now to help bridge that generational divide as a way to keep the hate war from raging on. Where is your role in this?
That’s my Monday morning rant so let the week begin. Again in cheap self promotion if you like what your reading hit the donate button. Dignity doesn’t pay the bills but when enough people make something as small as a $3 donation it can go a long way to filling the pantry or wheelchair maintenance. Those supports you think are there are a myth…
Have a good one…