Day 114 (of 189) #PinkShirtDay2020
Pink Shirt Day. I love that it was started by students who wanted to help support another student. I love that it was a grassroots movement that has spread across the nation and into other mindsets as well. I’m also likewise not a fan of it only being for “a” day – the focus on kindness and anti-bullying (pink thoughts) needs to exist every day, not just for a day for a photo op and quick social media binge.
But still a good day. Much like other issues that are honoured on one day but need to be remembered throughout the year: Orange Shirt Day to acknowledge the effects and affects of Residential Schools. Poppies on Remembrance Day (but also for many days leading up to November 11th). There are so many more days that have acknowledgements, and it can become overwhelming – especially when there are so many good things to acknowledge:
Autism Awareness: World Awareness: April 2 – puzzle pieces/wearing blue
Cancer: February 4
How to pick and choose what to “honour” – and worry that by not wearing jeans on the right day, or the right coloured shirt could be interpreted as “dishonouring” something that is important to others. What about the semi-colon ;
I guess I worry that these initiatives too easily become “token gestures” – as I often hear things like – why is “so and so” wearing pink when they’re the biggest bully on the planet?
Ant then there is the term bullying – which is a very powerful word…
But often “bullying” gets misused – yes it is unwanted rude/rough/mean behaviour, but bullying means that there is repetition and an imbalance of power; peers can be mean to each other without it authentically being bullying. Yet we also have to acknowledge sometimes the feeling of bullying can be felt without the person causing it to fully realize how their actions are being interpreted. And the feeling is REAL. Which is why so often my first intervention is letting the bully know how their actions are being interpreted. In most cases, this ends the issue. This mindset is important – awareness – which is one of the powerful end results of Pink Shirt Days – pink shirts have become normalized – my youngest daughter no longer likes to wear pink clothes; but pink clothes do not define who a person “is” – which is why I also encourage “pink thoughts” for those who would prefer not to wear pink – not even on pink shirt day.
Bullying is hard to “fix”. It rarely is as easy to spot as we would like to see on TV shows. Often it is subtle – which makes it difficult to identify specifically what to intervene with. It is often easily deniable, turning into a one said/other said argument – but again, the feeling is real and that is something that everyone can help make better. Choosing to be kind isn’t easy. Sometimes you really don’t want to be “it” for a game, or “have” to say sorry for an accident that someone else felt was on purpose. But it all helps – knowing that intentions may be interpreted differently. Owning up if you are mad at someone and picking on them and that is a wrong way to deal with your feelings. Talking helps – as it does with so many maladies. But our actions are what makes a difference – not being a bystander (audience) when mean actions are going on (Barbara Colorossa has some great writing on this topic) and being mindful in what your actions are leading to. What are your behaviours communicating? Instead of being an audience, calling out people who are making bullying choices (because is your witnessing also an active form of bullying – uncomfortably, probably yes) Knowing this is the best way to help us stop bullying. It can’t be punished away. It can’t just be “told by adults” and made to go away. Talking about it more frequently than the last wednesday of February is essential.
So make every day Pink Shirt Day – at least in thoughts and actions and voice.