One of the hallmarks of bullies are their potential for random acts of violence; if you want to be an effective anti bully you must become skilled in demonstrating deliberate acts of Kindness. I was in my grade 12, I was fortunate to stumble upon a group of dudes from BC who called themselves the Kindness Crew. These folks understood the power that we have in sharing positivity for no other reason than the world needs more of it. I was so encouraged and motivated by their example that I began as best as I could to weave deliberate acts of kindness into everything I did. I had begun this process way earlier in life, but it was in that moment, when I saw the obnoxiousness of their kindness, random hugs, organized kindness protests etc that I realized what impact kindness could really have.
Compliments Instead of Criticisms
In many of my public speeches, I ask a volunteer to stand up as I discuss bullying. I first describe what I understand a bully to be, emphasizing the fact that they ask bystanders to pay attention to, make fun of or laugh at negative elements of a person that are usually superficial. Often I choose something that I have in common with this volunteer. Example: student, stands up and I notice that they are wearing black shoes, like me. I will use that as an example and ask the crowd to point and laugh at them for wearing black shoes. Usually a few students do. It’s important for me to be pretty dramatic and overstated at this point so people know I am being sarcastic. I will then switch my angle; describing that an anti bully approaches the same person in a strength based way, focusing on what they like, and compliments instead of criticisms. I will select something like their awesome sweater, their cool hair, great smile etc. and ask students to join me in celebrating that. 100% of the time I do this activity, more students make noise and clap when asked to participate in celebrating someone, than they do in criticizing them. In this way I explain to whole schools that they have a natural inclination towards being anti bullies, and to keep on emphasizing the good things in one another. This is how we make or schools and classrooms safe.
This quote came from one of the leaders in the village who is also a teenager. She’s been a part of the Bell Tower family and continues to do amazing things – I know she is one of the motivating factors in why I work as hard as I do, it is ‘why we hustle”. I want to amplify her great ideas, her honest and courageous perspectives and am honoured to walk beside many young brave leaders, like her. I will do what I can to amplify those voices and here is a great idea on how we can expand anti bullying conversations into mental health, self harm, anxiety, depression and eating disorders. When this series began, I started by talking about opposites. I find it helpful when you identify a challenge, to identify and work towards its’ opposite. That’s where the term anti-bully comes from – I do realize that the term anti-bully is a deficit based phrase, and have been asking folks what they would use to replace it. One such word, is MEGAPHONE – amplifying the solutions and perspectives so that they can be seen, understood and implemented. Instead of trying to be the opposite of a bully, you can use your voice as a Megaphone!
IN THE PICTURE: Myself, Markus and Adesuwa selfying together. These are two of the kindest folks I have the honour of spending time with. They are generous with their knowledge and committed to making our community and world a better place. Markus is a visionary that helps AYO expand our activities and impact, and Adesuwa and I cause trouble on air during Inner City Voices. Thanks to both of you for the great work you do, and of course, for your friendship.