Here is the thing -- "brown" is not a derogatory term. It is not a word rooted in oppression, exclusion, bigotry, or hatred of any kind at the social or institutional level. The term is value neutral. It holds no malice, or intent to harm. It is not a powerful reminder of disenfranchisement and racial divisions such as the term"n*****." As wonderful as it is that people want to step up to the plate to help create inclusion and openness, I just wish it was with some context. Instead, get up off your feet when you hear some of the following slurs that are offensive and have been historically directed towards brown people.
Over the following months in 2001, the violence continued in Burundi between the rebels and the government. My passion for my work diminished. I no longer felt like doing anything. I even stopped watching the news on TV, or even listening to it on my own radio station. Everything looked hopeless. In 2002, some Canadian journalists visited Burundi. If I were going to ask for help, it was now or never. Six months later, they invited me to visit Canada, and I jumped on the opportunity. I arrived in Canada with $60 in my pocket -- my mother's life savings.
If someone said to me 15 years ago that I would be talking publicly about my Korean cultural identity today, I'd have been the first person to say: "You must be kidding." Until recently, despite having been born in Korea, I would not have called myself a Korean-Canadian.
In the business world, diversity can easily become a buzz word; something to check off the list of organizational must-haves. The demographics are shifting and businesses need to embrace that shift, especially in Canada. Our country was built by immigrants and our culture is rooted in inclusivity. But how do you actually do it?
It was difficult for bullies to gain a public pulpit. Letters to newspapers were closely monitored to ensure that slander and intimidation were not published. Magazines and television likewise; the professional mainstream media for the most part undertook the responsibility to self-regulate. Today anyone can publish virtually anything, and personal attacks are de rigueure.