I was 15 years old, riding my bike home from work, in the city of Hamilton, Ontario.
It was a mid-summer Saturday, around mid-day, when I approached an intersection with a stop sign.
I stopped, looked both ways, then began to pedal, in high gear, when I was caught off-guard by the sound of a loud, roaring V8 engine and screeching tires.
Around the corner came sliding a light blue, rusty 1970s Trans Am with 2 guys sitting in front. Both dudes were white guys with blonde hair. I remember the driver clearly — he was wearing these blue reflective sunglasses and had long wavy hair down past his shoulders.
He sped up to me, nearly hitting me on my bike, but slammed the brakes on and came to a screeching halt just short of me.
I was befuddled. I thought that I had done something horribly wrong:
I didn’t have the right gear selected, I took too long to accelerate, I should have waited longer, maybe I didn’t look long enough…
At this time I wasn’t familiar with the concept of racism per se. Oh I was familiar with discrimination and hate — I just grew up accepting it as part of my own shortcomings.
The Verbal Onslaught
So in my naiveté, I felt I was wrong once again, as the driver began to spew his hate:
“You don’t deserve to be riding that bike.”
“Go back to where you came from.”
“People like you don’t belong here.”
“You low-life piece of shit.”
“You ugly brown PAKI.”
“You don’t fucking belong here.”
“You deserve to be shot.”
“You should kill yourself.”
“Fuck off and go back where you came from.”
The verbal onslaught went on for about 5 minutes — but it felt like hours.
I just stood there, and listened. I don’t remember all the words — but I do remember how they made me feel. I felt like I was being punched in the stomach. Each word was a devastating blow that made me weaker.
After he was done with the verbal assault, he and his buddy laughed. As they looked at me, I hated myself.
He then spit at me, then screeched the tires making the car slide sideways and again almost hitting me, before taking off in a smoke show.
The Feeling of Shame
Normally, I was to ride my bike home from this point, considering it was only across the street, and half a block down (maybe 5 houses down). But I couldn’t ride the bike. Actually, I couldn’t even walk. Hell, I could barely even stand at this point.
I was breathing so heavily, my heart was pounding out of my chest. The life had just been sucked out of my being. I was shaking, yet somehow, I was able to gather my bearings and walk the rest of the way home.
I put my bike away. Walked inside. Went straight to my room. Not a word did I utter to anyone (which no doubt must have seemed odd to my parents). I went up to my bedroom and got under the covers and felt ashamed of myself for not crossing the road properly.
Then I broke down.
Up to that point in my life, I had been so accustomed to being rejected and neglected, so accustomed to feeling like God made me different, that the hate was just normal and to be accepted in shame — I had no clue even then, that this was an act of racism, of discrimination, of oppression, of blatant ignorance.
I was so naive, that it took me several years after that incident, and hundreds of more accounts of hate, for me to put everything into perspective.
It took me several more years to deal with it. And several more to accept — and rise above.
To this day, I remember the Trans am, the blonde wavy hair, the reflective blue sunglasses, and the verbal assault that brought me to my knees.
I am a Canadian citizen, born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
I have no bitterness towards anyone, ignorant or not.
I have no anger or hate towards anyone.
The hatred that once broke me, now empowers me.
I am thankful, not because I am not like one of them, but because I know firsthand, what it’s like to experience a depth of hurt, shame, and disgust that can get shoved down one’s throat and how it can choke the life-force from one’s being. And I offer my hand instead — in strength — so you too, can rise above.
Take My Hand…
Hate cannot defeat hate. It never will.
Do not hate the hater.
Do not hate the oppressor.
Do not hate the abuser.
Do not hate your President or the system or the people who support them.
Do not hate a religion or those who follow it.
Because ultimately, people can be won over only with one thing: the only force more powerful than hate, is love.
You have to be willing to go down with the ship and stand up for what is right alone — therein lies the power for change — at that point, the universe backs you up, and empowers you.
You have to trust the process — ask me how I know.
You may disagree, and that’s ok. History dictates the winner.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr
Let all your things in life be done with love.