Manuel DaCosta esteve à conversa com Megan Boakye – uma mulher empreendedora, proprietária de uma empresa gráfica, dedicada a design e planeamento de eventos: desde casamentos, a eventos sociais e corporativos.
Megan nasceu em Regina, Saskatchewan, e veio aos 21 anos para Toronto, para estudar Fashion Communications (com minor em Marketing). É em Toronto que atualmente desenvolve a sua atividade profissional.
Casada desde novembro de 2018 com Kwasi Boakye, originário do Gana, Megan partilha a experiência de vida deste casal que mistura duas etnias e culturas distintas.
Nesta conversa ficou clara a importância da aceitação familiar e uma integração social facilitada num país, por si só, já multirracial, apesar de Megan sentir que há ainda um caminho longo a fazer por parte da sociedade.
Manuel DaCosta: What was your parent’s reaction when you told them you were going to marry a man of colour?
Megan Boakye: Nothing! They embraced him! I met him at the Ryerson (University) gym. We were friends for a long time before dating. There was really no shift with my parents. They have stepped in when they needed to, but they have always been open minded. (…) My dad always said, between my sister, my brother and I, I’m the one he worries about least, because I ask a lot of questions and I do whatever I need to do to figure things out. But when Kwasi came into the family – I don’t know if it’s because I was friends with him before, so they knew about him – it was a pretty seamless relationship.
MDC: So there was a seamless integration, there was no negativism involved whatsoever? They didn’t discourage you in any way?
MB: No, absolutely not. It’s crazy how the world is so small. My husband’s job took him to Regina, Saskatchewan, to go to school. My parents were at his graduation and my nieces were at the front of the line watching him. My parents had always let us (my siblings and I) find our path. As a creative, I always got questions like, and I know it was never a malicious thing, “Oh great, that’s your hobby, but what are you going to do for a career?” (laughs).
MDC: Have you ever noticed any challenges? People possibly not being as kind as they should be when they see the two of you as a couple?
MB: Yes, yes, and surprisingly people assume it’s from older individuals and it’s not always. Unfortunately, we have had people turning face to the wall when in an elevator before and we’ve had two situations that opened my eyes a lot more… people were treating Kwasi, not specifically me, in a different way. Servers, waiters, for example, they were literally talking to just me and wouldn’t even look at Kwasi. I like to lean on the side of “no, that didn’t happen”, because I’ve never had to deal with it before.
MDC: It’s better to pretend it didn’t happen…
MB: Right. Kwasi also doesn’t like to influence my thoughts. He likes to wait and see if I see that it’s happening before he jumps to conclusions. We’ve had situations and actually both of them were in the States. There’s racism in Canada…there’s racism everywhere, but the two specific situations that stand up the most were in the States.
MDC: As much as we are a country made up of ethnicities, it seems to me that we are still far from embracing all the colours of our country properly…
MB: Of course. And even in my industry I have had women of colour, that I’m friends with, saying they don’t want to be the face of their own businesses right now and I get it, because I know. Kwasi has been educating me and my friends have been education me as well. This is just something I simply have not had to deal with. So, when they tell me these things it’s absolutely heart wrenching.
MDC: They internalize these thoughts and feelings. When and how are they going to be coming out and say “look, I want to be the face of my business, I want people to see me”?
MB: Right, and I say that to them but the more they talk to me about what they have been through, I feel a little bit ignorant thinking “why not?”, because we have always been “why not?”, we never had to deal with it. So, when they’re telling me they want to build their business first, get all their clients and then be the face of their business. It makes me so sad. First of all because they have to deal with that!
It’s the same with my husband. He is very private, so we don’t talk too much about everything he has done or gone through but even getting to a place of power is almost like they have to kind of flow under the radar until they get there. They have to get there, a little bit quitter, and then once they are in that place of power they want to make change, which they need to. It’s required!
MDC: How are we going to get there?
MB: I don’t know, it’s going to be a long road…
MDC: I’m sure your husband has frustrations as to why these things happen and why is not moving up as fast as it should be… When he sees some people getting ahead of him that are probably not more qualified than him…
MDC: How can we get rid of these things that stand in the way of progress?
MB: That’s a loaded question because doing these social media posts and people reading some articles, they listen to some quotes. All that is bringing attention to the subject, to the problem at hand, but it’s not diving as deep as it needs to be. I wasn’t going crazy on social media with everything that was going on because to me it requires actually speaking with people about this matter. But solving the problem? I think we made strides, for sure, which is fantastic but there’s so much further that we need to go. I think that these multicultural relationships, different cultures, intertwining with each other is going to help, definitely.
We are talking about interracial relationships: Kwasi is not losing his culture in me! If we have children, they’re not going to lose their culture because they’re mixed! I want them learning his traditions, I want them learning my traditions. I think the more we embrace each other the better it will get but there’s still going to be those systemic problems that are going to take so much more work and for me to sit here and say what will solve it…
MDC: It’s difficult.
MB: Yes, it’s so difficult!
MDC: Looking at the culture of Ghana and looking at Regina, Saskatchewan’s culture, how have you been able to mix both cultures and practice them? Or do you?
MB: Yes! I’m always asking Kwasi “what can I do?” Kwasi speaks Twi, so I’ve been trying to learn. I feel I sound silly (laughs) when I’m trying to learn but I know for his sake it would be great if we could speak Twi with each other because he speaks that with his mom, with his family, with his friends, and I don’t like that I don’t know what they’re saying when they’re sitting beside me (laughs)! Not only that, it’s just their way of living life. When I go to Ghana, everybody, and it doesn’t matter if they’re rich, poor, they’re all wonderful, gracious people! Not just to me but to each other! I want my future kids – if we have any – to see that! I want them to embrace everything – from the food that they eat to the way of living, laid back and appreciative of the things that matter! But on my side, I’m kind of a mix – Austrian, my grandmother was French, so I’m a mix of everything, so we didn’t have any specific traditions, more just Canadians holidays and things like that.
MDC: One day your kids will be learning traditions of Ghana and Canada and they’ll be very happy.
Transcrição: Catarina Balça/MS