Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Upcoming events - BC Anti-bullying Day

Given that the Government of the Province of British Columbia has proclaimed February 27th, 2008 as BC Anti-Bullying Day, and a number of organizations (like CUPE) and public figures (including Christy Clark) are encouraging the public to wear pink (by the way, great website from the CKNW), I figured that, in celebration of BC Anti-Bullying Day, I'm should share with the blogosphere an intimate look at a part of my life I wish I had never had to endure, and how I dealt with it.

When I was in primary school, I used to be as tiny as a midget. For some bizarre reason, I started growing when I was 17. I am not kidding you. Nowadays, at a my 5'11" (6' on a good day) and 170 pds, it's kind of hard to mess around with me (well, my height/weight and my martial arts and street fighting training kind of help). Unless, of course, you're 6'7 and super strong... but I digress.

So back then, when I was short and wore glasses, I was bullied by taller, stronger young men. After all, "I was in an all-boys school and had to learn to fight" (their words, not mine). Many, many times, my brothers (particularly my eldest brother) had to intervene and calm some of these bullies. But I couldn't have my older brothers always protect me. I had to learn to do it myself.

I have always been privileged in that my parents have always been my best friends, so I needed to tell them what was going on at school. After careful deliberation we (my parents and I) decided that I needed to take martial arts training. Not because I enjoyed kicking people's butts, but because I wanted to be able to defend myself should I ever need to do so. As a young kid (and to this day), I always tended to be extremely sensitive, emotional and sweet. These were not traits that aggressive bullies would take in a positive light. But I didn't want to be a victim or a target. I wanted to empower myself and be able to break through to these bullies.

One day (several months after I had started my martial arts training), a guy who had bullied me for a long while started picking a fight with me (Gustavo was his name), right before school was over. I was faced with the choice I never wanted to face - "do I fight or do I run?" I decided it was time to fight back. I grabbed Gustavo's arm and applied a judo move on him. I threw him over the top of my shoulder and, strategically, forced him to land with his back towards a trash can. I did this purposefully as I knew that would immobilize him completely. He started crying on the spot and ran away from me as fast as he could.

My classmates were astonished. "How could Raul, the tiny little midget, defend himself now? What happened to him?" From that moment onwards, I never looked back, and never had to face another bully. The word was out: Raul was never going to let anyone else pick on him ever, ever again.

So, in celebration of British Columbia's Anti-Bullying Day, I am going to wear a pink t-shirt to the office tomorrow (Wednesday February 27th, 2008). I encourage you to do so, too. Because bullying is simply wrong, and because once upon a time, I had to fight back too. And if you know someone who is being bullied, there are resources out there that can help him/her deal with it.


Phaedra said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Bullying is something that seems to be esculating(with the appearance of sites like Facebook and myspace)and not talked about because of the shame that is attached to it. I am glad to see that it has gotten enough recognition to have it's own day. I too will wear a pink shirt tomorrow.

Phaedra said...

on a side note, I am planning to go to the Green show Sat (preferably morning)so perhaps we could connect...

Raul said...

Hi Phaedra,

For sure - that'd be lovely. I have another enviro-geek friend that might tag along with us.

My email is


Send me a note and let's organize!

Anonymous said...

Hola, Raul !!!
Fijate lo que son las cosas, hoy anduve de rosa y todas las de mi oficina tambien, sin saber que era EL dia para usar este color. A mi me toco ser la hermana mayor que defendio a la menor, y se armo un pleito escolar de medio colegio vs medio colegio, asi que tambien desde temprana edad aprendimos que (perdon) pa'cabron, cabron y medio.....eso si, ahora soy toda una lady. Besitos del gatitolindo.