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What will I do with my power?

by Guest Writer

This post is part of our #LetsTalkEquity series focused on encouraging conversations about equity and inclusion. Join the conversation online through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following Ontario Tech Student Life.

"Power is the distribution of socio-economic and political power... [it] is what entrenches differences between groups, amplifying feelings of "us" and "them"" - Deep Diversity Training (2018)

The greatest and most meaningful adventure of our lives is discovering who we truly are. Some of us question our cultures or might feel like we want to belong to another race, apart from the one we were born in. Some of us may feel as if we belong to a different body type or even begin to discover our gender. And some seek our perfect fit in terms of our education, work, and relationships. This is self-discovery and this is where the word “power” comes into play.

I believe that the word power is when you hold the ability to build the circumstances, opportunities and the reality in which you can flourish. Some people hold more power in society and it is up to them to use it to advance themselves alone or to advance themselves while also creating equitable spaces for others, those who are marginalized, to also flourish. There was a time in my life when I did not know my own power. A previous employer of mine and a coworker would constantly pick on me as I was the only person of colour at this workplace. They would exclude me from conversations and continually made fun of how I couldn't relate to the western culture since I grew up in a very Asian household. My coworker would refer to me as an immigrant even though I was born and raised in Canada. They would make various other discriminatory comments and at one point my employer would give me fewer hours compared to my coworker. I am assuming she did this because she didn't like who I was. Yet, deep down I knew I was better than this. I knew that my culture and my race makes me who I am, and I am very proud of that. I realized then and there that my power is that I am me, and nobody else can be me. I used my power and immediately took action, and reported all of the unfortunate events to HR. I no longer work at this place by choice, but I am aware that neither of them are too - and they didn't have a choice. I think by advocating for myself, I took away their power to treat me unfairly.

It is easy to associate power with someone or something other than ourselves, but it is important to acknowledge that we possess power regardless of our social location. Use your power to advocate for yourself and others. Use your power for good and not to discriminate or hurt others. The best kind of power comes from within, to have it means you are in tune with your current highest self.  So, once you have this figured out, the question you ask yourself is: “What will I do with my power?”