Sho On Racism And Self-Careuffi

The rashes on his skin are emblems of the racism he's experienced.

Racism is a reality for many Canadians of colour, and its effects can be damaging physically and psychologically. We asked Canadians to share their experiences of racism, self-care, self-love, and "paying it forward" for real change.

Sho is a writer and wanderer who believes that food and storytelling are crucial tools in healing histories of violence. Sho, whose ancestral roots are the Uchinanchu and Nikkei peoples of Japan, considers himself to be a settler in Victoria, B.C. on what is Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territory. He tries to avoid the drama of everyday life through intentional meditations with his favourite new tunes and a steady flow of good tea and chocolate.

What effect does repeat experiences of racism have on your well-being?

For much of my life I have lived with persistent rashes and intense eruptions on my skin, therefore my skin has always been an important battleground in my fight to reconcile the cultures that come together, reacting uneasily, sometimes straight-up violently, in my body.

To me, these reactions on my skin are part of my fight to reclaim my body from the grips of others. To me, these reactions are a result of the anxieties of being racially mixed — through its fight with itself, my body is attempting to reconcile the unequal histories of my ancestors.

… My physical symptoms are my body’s attempt to detox from the traumas of racism and homophobia that I have experienced over years and lifetimes. I hold these traumas as stress in my body, and they release themselves and manifest as physical pain.

How do you practice self-care?

My own personal writing is similar to the rashes that appear on my skin — they are both vehicles that allow what festers inside to find a way out into the world. Just as my rashes are the product of my body detoxing and expelling negative energy, my writing is the same — the words, just as the rash, become the pathway that allows for my own self-expression … I believe that true health looks like the expression of my traumas and wounds — rather than their suppression and invalidation.

What is the relationship between self-care and working toward change?

Through my writing, I reverse this suppression, taking my greatest hidden shame and giving it words that allow it to come to life.

Listen to Sho's poem: Nidoto Nai Toni:

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This interview has been condensed from its original format.