Combatting racism starts with education, says Stoney Creek's Rod Foster

Community Jun 09, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Growing up in Stoney Creek, Rod Foster faced many of the same challenges as his peers, but with one key distinction.

A fifth generation Afro Canadian, Foster was the only Black student in his school.

He assimilated to his surroundings, listening to rock ‘n roll music, playing hockey and doing things his friends did.

But there was one thing missing. Foster wasn’t like his friends because he was visibly different.

“I didn’t have girlfriends at 11, 12, 13 years old. I had to meet them at the mall, because their parents wouldn’t allow them to date someone of colour in their home,” said Foster.

Certain teachers looked down on him because they felt he wasn’t educated, Foster recalled.

From 2009 to 2020, Foster operated Aftershok Performance Fitness, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the fitness facility to close. On occasion, said Foster, guests walked into the fitness facility asking to see the owner, assuming the owner was not Foster.

Others have asked Foster, “Where are you from?” Not satisfied with the response of “Canada,” some have followed up, asking, “Where are you really from?”

The Foster family has lived in Stoney Creek since the 1950s. Family members are part of the Stewart Memorial Church congregation, where Rev. John Holland once preached.

Foster’s grandfather, Rev. Robert Foster, served at Stewart Memorial as well.

With protests denouncing racism in the wake of the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, Foster said efforts to combat racial discrimination — both in policing and in society as a whole — are nothing new.

Referencing Stephen Lewis’ 1992 Report to the Premier on Racism in Ontario, Foster said people of colour have long experienced systemic racism.

“What’s happening now is not really shocking,” said Foster. “The positive thing about this is it wakes people up. I don’t get involved in the marches, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about it. I’ve been passionate for the last 25 to 30 years.”

For those who want to be allies in the fight against racism, education is the key, said Foster.

Foster draws a distinction between bigotry — calling someone the N-word for example — and racism.

“People don’t understand the actual concept of what racism is,” said Foster. “It has to do with socioeconomic power.”

Don’t stereotype and don’t say you don’t see colour, Foster said.

“Say you see colour, but then want to know more about it,” Foster noted.

Being ready to learn doesn’t necessarily mean going out and finding a Black friend, Foster added.

“It’s just having an understanding and taking a deep breath and looking at and investigating every situation,” he said.

Over the last eight months, Foster has been working on an online course open to everyone, teaching concepts of self-identity, self-image and self-esteem.

He plans to offer the course online at coachingselfesteem.com. (The site is still under construction).

Foster is also the author of Big Dog Front Seat, a book about self-esteem. As the book’s title suggests, Foster urges readers to become the leaders of their lives.

The book isn’t specifically geared toward people of colour; however, Foster notes self-esteem issues often impact Black people because they want to feel a sense of belonging.

“When you love yourself, you love others,” Foster explained. “You become accepting; you become patient.”

Combatting racism starts with education, says Stoney Creek's Rod Foster

Community Jun 09, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Growing up in Stoney Creek, Rod Foster faced many of the same challenges as his peers, but with one key distinction.

A fifth generation Afro Canadian, Foster was the only Black student in his school.

He assimilated to his surroundings, listening to rock ‘n roll music, playing hockey and doing things his friends did.

But there was one thing missing. Foster wasn’t like his friends because he was visibly different.

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“I didn’t have girlfriends at 11, 12, 13 years old. I had to meet them at the mall, because their parents wouldn’t allow them to date someone of colour in their home,” said Foster.

Certain teachers looked down on him because they felt he wasn’t educated, Foster recalled.

From 2009 to 2020, Foster operated Aftershok Performance Fitness, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the fitness facility to close. On occasion, said Foster, guests walked into the fitness facility asking to see the owner, assuming the owner was not Foster.

Others have asked Foster, “Where are you from?” Not satisfied with the response of “Canada,” some have followed up, asking, “Where are you really from?”

The Foster family has lived in Stoney Creek since the 1950s. Family members are part of the Stewart Memorial Church congregation, where Rev. John Holland once preached.

Foster’s grandfather, Rev. Robert Foster, served at Stewart Memorial as well.

With protests denouncing racism in the wake of the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, Foster said efforts to combat racial discrimination — both in policing and in society as a whole — are nothing new.

Referencing Stephen Lewis’ 1992 Report to the Premier on Racism in Ontario, Foster said people of colour have long experienced systemic racism.

“What’s happening now is not really shocking,” said Foster. “The positive thing about this is it wakes people up. I don’t get involved in the marches, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about it. I’ve been passionate for the last 25 to 30 years.”

For those who want to be allies in the fight against racism, education is the key, said Foster.

Foster draws a distinction between bigotry — calling someone the N-word for example — and racism.

“People don’t understand the actual concept of what racism is,” said Foster. “It has to do with socioeconomic power.”

Don’t stereotype and don’t say you don’t see colour, Foster said.

“Say you see colour, but then want to know more about it,” Foster noted.

Being ready to learn doesn’t necessarily mean going out and finding a Black friend, Foster added.

“It’s just having an understanding and taking a deep breath and looking at and investigating every situation,” he said.

Over the last eight months, Foster has been working on an online course open to everyone, teaching concepts of self-identity, self-image and self-esteem.

He plans to offer the course online at coachingselfesteem.com. (The site is still under construction).

Foster is also the author of Big Dog Front Seat, a book about self-esteem. As the book’s title suggests, Foster urges readers to become the leaders of their lives.

The book isn’t specifically geared toward people of colour; however, Foster notes self-esteem issues often impact Black people because they want to feel a sense of belonging.

“When you love yourself, you love others,” Foster explained. “You become accepting; you become patient.”

Combatting racism starts with education, says Stoney Creek's Rod Foster

Community Jun 09, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Growing up in Stoney Creek, Rod Foster faced many of the same challenges as his peers, but with one key distinction.

A fifth generation Afro Canadian, Foster was the only Black student in his school.

He assimilated to his surroundings, listening to rock ‘n roll music, playing hockey and doing things his friends did.

But there was one thing missing. Foster wasn’t like his friends because he was visibly different.

Related Content

“I didn’t have girlfriends at 11, 12, 13 years old. I had to meet them at the mall, because their parents wouldn’t allow them to date someone of colour in their home,” said Foster.

Certain teachers looked down on him because they felt he wasn’t educated, Foster recalled.

From 2009 to 2020, Foster operated Aftershok Performance Fitness, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the fitness facility to close. On occasion, said Foster, guests walked into the fitness facility asking to see the owner, assuming the owner was not Foster.

Others have asked Foster, “Where are you from?” Not satisfied with the response of “Canada,” some have followed up, asking, “Where are you really from?”

The Foster family has lived in Stoney Creek since the 1950s. Family members are part of the Stewart Memorial Church congregation, where Rev. John Holland once preached.

Foster’s grandfather, Rev. Robert Foster, served at Stewart Memorial as well.

With protests denouncing racism in the wake of the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, Foster said efforts to combat racial discrimination — both in policing and in society as a whole — are nothing new.

Referencing Stephen Lewis’ 1992 Report to the Premier on Racism in Ontario, Foster said people of colour have long experienced systemic racism.

“What’s happening now is not really shocking,” said Foster. “The positive thing about this is it wakes people up. I don’t get involved in the marches, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about it. I’ve been passionate for the last 25 to 30 years.”

For those who want to be allies in the fight against racism, education is the key, said Foster.

Foster draws a distinction between bigotry — calling someone the N-word for example — and racism.

“People don’t understand the actual concept of what racism is,” said Foster. “It has to do with socioeconomic power.”

Don’t stereotype and don’t say you don’t see colour, Foster said.

“Say you see colour, but then want to know more about it,” Foster noted.

Being ready to learn doesn’t necessarily mean going out and finding a Black friend, Foster added.

“It’s just having an understanding and taking a deep breath and looking at and investigating every situation,” he said.

Over the last eight months, Foster has been working on an online course open to everyone, teaching concepts of self-identity, self-image and self-esteem.

He plans to offer the course online at coachingselfesteem.com. (The site is still under construction).

Foster is also the author of Big Dog Front Seat, a book about self-esteem. As the book’s title suggests, Foster urges readers to become the leaders of their lives.

The book isn’t specifically geared toward people of colour; however, Foster notes self-esteem issues often impact Black people because they want to feel a sense of belonging.

“When you love yourself, you love others,” Foster explained. “You become accepting; you become patient.”