I have received countless calls, emails, texts, and messages on all social media channels as to my response to the death of George Floyd. I do apologize for my delayed response. I am helping my wife battle cancer. At the beginning of this week, I got a text that a dear friend from my youth group committed suicide.
This post is real and vulnerable.
I am going to share my experience in all humility, respect, kindness, and brokenness.
I was born in a Canadian Missionary hospital. Dr. Robert McClure, the world’s famous missionary and the doctor had to try his level best to save me. I was very sick for the first two years. There is a big hole under my left arm through which I was fed.
Father Schlappa the German missionary brought a few lepers every Sunday after service. I had asked him if I could become a priest. He said Jerry if it was not for the grace you would be like them. That message has always been with me.
I was at St. Joseph’s from kindergarten to grade 7. I studied with Aftab Sheikh (Muslim), Girish Gupta (Hindu), Davina Brown (Anglo Indian), Nayan Purohit, and many others who were different than me. I am still close to them today.
At St. Andrews, I met Ishh Chadha (Bangalore), Naresh Sahni (NY), and Deepak (SF). That friendship in a boarding school is as strong as it is today. They have no religious background or affiliations. They are my closest buddies and have loved me, fed me, and taken care of me.
Bishop Cotton was this 150-year-old school and until today I never figured out what a Catholic boy was doing in a school with 300 students and only 5 Christians. But I needed to learn discipline, hard work, respect, and loyalty. Jatinder Singh Taneja, Ash Virk and Anup Bhalaik were and are still close friends today. They are different but we share a bond.
At Elphinstone, I was exposed to the Parsis and it was here that I met Farzana Patel and we are still close today.
I got my first passport as a 11-year-old. I asked my dad as to why it was not valid for a whole bunch of countries. The reason was they practiced segregation.
As a teenager, I headed to Les Roches. I was scared. However, I see my closest friends were Honny Khatwani (Sindhi), Fazlul Kabir (Muslim), Yal Yalon Steiner (Jewish), Tonjoost Ton-Joost Evers, Simon Tan L. O. (Buddhist) and Alan Loi. All these friendships are as strong as ever.
From a young age, I have never seen color, caste, creed, or anything else.
As I look at my wedding party, the person who sang at my wedding was an African Canadian, his daughter was the flower girl, the flower boy was Filipino, and I had two Chinese, an Indonesian, an Armenian and a German in my wedding party.
I am in a mixed marriage and embrace diversity.
As a few friends started coming out, I learned more about the LGTBQ community and some of my close friends are from that. My website was designed by someone from an alternative lifestyle and my logo was designed by a lesbian. I do not judge what you do in your bedroom.
As a brown person, I have had my share of racism. I refuse to go to that level. Throw a brick at me, I will build a home.
At the Toronto Bloggers Collective, I am so grateful for meeting Casey Palmer, another African Canadian in a mixed marriage. The group is amazing about different creators from various backgrounds with one goal in mind. To love and give everyone a voice.
I am guilty that there have been times I have not spoken up. I try through my blog to lift people from all backgrounds and tell their stories.
I will continue to practice and preach patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, hope, and unconditional love.
However, it is time for a checkup from the top to the bottom. From the political sphere to the boardroom, from the cultural landscape to our own hearts we need to have a conversation. We need to understand, have empathy, and mourn with our brothers and sisters who have been killed systematically.
We have to love unconditionally. Our neighbors could be different. We have to reach out and make a difference. We have to understand our neighbor, practice empathy, mourn with them, lament, and hope.
We cannot look at people as a stat. We take their dignity away.
We have to take a personal inventory and our own cultural bias.
There are many times I tell my daughter to clean her room. As I post this, I am going to go and clean my room, I am going to look deep in my heart, I am going to see what I can do to make this world a better place for every human irrespective of your caste, creed, color, background or credentials.