Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sidonie's Story

I first captured Sidonie's cool street style a couple of weeks ago . Recently, we collaborated on this great shoot before she flew back to her home in Barcelona. Last time, Sidonie shared a poignant story about how "the universe always gives you exactly what you need." This time, she shares a more personal story.

TorontoVerve: What did you learn the most about yourself from your travels?

Sidonie: You learn about yourself when you wind up in a difficult situation -- you've been robbed blind of everything that you have. How you react after really defines a moment when you can grow or just shrivel up and be afraid. And those moments are really empowering because you realize that you can get through something that you never thought that you would like someone holding you at gun point, someone robbing you in your sleep or on a bus. Finding someone else who's been robbed and helping them out. Essentially, being in a place where you're completely out of your comfort zone because you don't speak the language and you don't know anyone locally. It really creates a moment where you can prove to yourself what you're capable of.

TorontoVerve: You were robbed at gun point? That's horrible.

Sidonie: Yes, he was a child -- probably 13 years old. He had a homemade gun. It was not an extremely severe situation. I had very little money on me. It was just a moment when I realized that my life had no value someplace else and to see something really powerful in the eyes of someone else -- whether it'd be a profound hatred that he's embodying in me or systemic inequality that has pushed him to this limit. I can decide at that moment that this can be an anecdote in my travels and it wouldn't stop me from traveling or decide to buy the next flight home and never travel again. In time, you realize that it's really not that big a deal. You can get through anything.

TorontoVerve: After an event like that, you likely grow an even greater appreciation for life.

Sidonie: You definitely grow a greater appreciation for countries in which you feel incredibly safe walking down the street. It's always about fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. That fear of someone completely different always comes from fear of not knowing what to expect from that person. When all the barriers come down, people can truly be themselves [without their biases overtaking them].

TorontoVerve: Right now the American election is really fueled by fear -- the fear of others. That's why Donald Trump is where he is today because he exploits that fear. What would you say to those people who are consumed with fear?

Sidonie: I think the politics of fear have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. They were used by monarchy to keep people completely illiterate and enslaved to the political institution. It's the same thing today where you have a country that is supposedly the richest country in the world, but actually, some of the people who are the poorest of the world live in that country. Some of the least educated in the world come from that country and when you have this sort of humongous, incalculable, unfathomable, omni-present enemy, it's incredibly easy to make an entire population feel like they are potential victims of something that can happen at any time. Basically, everything that they know and love can be just taken away from them. Of course, that makes people afraid, but after a while, that fear turns to blind rage because they don't feel safe anymore.

Sidonie: So when you finally put a face on this invisible enemy, people are ready to charge at it and make the wildest accusations. According to Donald Trump, that enemy or terrorist is anyone wearing a burqa or from the Middle-East. When you play on that fear, you can win an election -- I honestly don't think he's going to win -- but you can win an election when you say that you're the hero who's going to make it all better. To answer your question more directly, I say look at Canada. We have no terrorist acts or hate crimes when compared to the United States and most countries. Canada is one of the highest rated countries in the world when it comes to immigration and multi-culturalism. You can get on the TTC and see a girl in a mini-skirt and tube top sitting next to a woman wearing a full length burqa and nobody flinches about it. We're all accustomed to it. That's really the solution to everything.

Sidonie: They've done a psychological investigation in Australia -- where there's also a big Arab migration --  to make sure that children at a young age are exposed to each other in schools at play and learning. They are the first ones to realize that this person who might have a different shade of skin, a different way of dressing or different mother tongue, is actually fundamentally the same person who wants to be happy and thrive. And that right there is the only way to break down the barriers of fear.

Follow Sidonie on Instagram.

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