I am writing this letter in response to the dialogue occurring in Summerland regarding items displaying the confederate flag being sold in a local business.
I have read the owner of the Dollar Store‘s Facebook post, asking for an apology from Toni. I am writing to let you, and the residents of Summerland know that I stand with Toni.
The Lekhi family has undergone what no family in Summerland should – the destruction of property is only a small fraction of the harm perpetrated and fear instilled. Every family that lives in Summerland deserves to experience safety, respect and acceptance.
The parade that occurred afterwards was a show of support, unity and togetherness for all citizens of Summerland.
In contrast, the individual who attended with a confederate symbol displayed a show of disrespect, racism and otherness.
Rather than questioning Allan’s or Toni’s character, I would reccomend that the citizens of Summerland evaluate the risk of harm associated with specific actions. For example, marketing racist symbols has the effect of making minority families feel unsafe, unheard and unseen. Toni simply destroyed this symbol, an act of progression, multiculturalism and unity – which is what Summerland (and Canada) should stand for. I would hope that every single Summerland citizen would support this.
I don’t believe Allan is a bad person. I believe that he sold a racist symbol and was held accountable. Rather than owning up to his mistake, he deflected attention towards Toni’s behaviour. I am proud of Toni. I feel better knowing confederate flags are not being sold in Summerland.
I was born and raised in Summerland and spent 18 years here. With the lack of diversity and education about racism, I’ve also made mistakes. The difference is, when I’m called out, I apologize and commit to doing better. I would love to see others do the same.