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Power in Community


Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Last week a woman went on a racist rant in Lethbridge, Alberta. She was recorded on video telling other restaurant patrons she felt were “foreign” to her, that they should go home. Her tirade was aggressive, disrespectful and exemplified hate speech.


Professor Kathleen Mahoney, a Professor of Law at the University of Calgary said in a television interview that hate speech is hard to prove. I don’t know. When I heard the video recording of the interaction, my skin crawled! Did yours? Every fibre of my skin knew that this woman was causing harm through her talk.


If you heard about this incident, I’m curious to know what your experience was in that moment. Did your skin crawl or did you have a difference response? It’s important we share these reactions so we can begin to understand how inclusion is created. The transparency of reactions in a safe space allows for working through biases and assumptions, no matter how misdirected they may be.


One of the video recordings included reaction from others in the restaurant, including the targets of her tirade. The response was unanimously peaceful. No one reacted with anger.


That in itself is telling. It would appear that those who were the victims of this assault could hold their own ground on safe soil. Although I haven’t spoken with them, it would seem they felt safe enough to claim their nationality and know that they belonged and were at home — despite what she claimed.


She later apologized, saying she was drunk. This to me sounded more like an excuse than an apology.


The community, though, has held her accountable. That’s what is interesting to me. The values of the community held her responsible for her words and, hence, actions. The proof is in the recordings which clearly reveal that we are all equal and welcome in this land.

There is power in community.


Her organization fired her. They said they wanted to make it perfectly clear her actions and words did not represent the organization that employed her. The video recording has gone viral. Despite the fact the organization was in a different province from where she had this outburst, she lost her job.


The truth is, the internet strings together our communities into larger communities. There is an even greater power in connected communities. All communities choose to be inclusive or divisive. What choice do you make in your organization?


Contact me to make inclusive choices in your organizational culture margot@margothovey.com

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© 2019 by Margot Hovey, PhD