Tag Archives: bigotry

Racism – It isn’t just for white people anymore

A young lady tweeted something rather unfortunate a while back. A reporter – apparently known for being a hate-filled blockhead found the Tweet and spread it around. Rather large (for Canada) firestorm ensued. I won’t repeat the tweet, it was born of the frustration, born of anger. We are all guilty of unwise words when we are angry, at some point in our lives.

Having lived through more decades than I am able to remember, with any clarity, I can say that we have come a long way from the murderous rampages for civil rights. We have come a long way but baby…there is still a mountain range and vast desert to cross. I site the Herouxville manifesto and the appalling reaction to the acceptance of Syrian refugees by some Canadians. A vocal few, I would hope, that seem to have forgotten that many of them have the blood of refugees running through their veins.

Racism. As a white woman, apparently, I have no say in the topic, to some. I can’t possibly know what racism does to an individual, a community.

Yeah well..that is tantamount to racism, in and of itself.

I do understand how violence, the threat of violence, a constant barrage of insults, the barring of opportunities can tear down the self-respect of a human being. It isn’t neurosurgery. Simply because I have never been the recipient of such behaviour does not mean that I cannot see the terrible inequality of such actions and call out the perpetrators.  It does not mean that I am incapable of understanding the issue.  I do possess grey matter that extends beyond basic presumption.

Over the decades, I’ve seen unconscionable acts. I’ve been exposed to the appalling impact of bigotry in the world. The Holodomor, the Holocaust, Selma, Watts, the Killing Fields, Apartheid, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq….on a lesser scale, the FLQ. All over the world, people are judged, found guilty and die because of the race, creed and/or culture. A young man was hacked to death in Bangladesh because he was an atheist just a few days ago.

The colour of our skin, the faith of our families, our gender…in an intelligent society, none of this should be of relevance but history tells us, the human race is far from intelligent.

Personally, I don’t care whether you are white, black, yellow, olive or purple. My motto is that assholes are all the same colour; religion, creed or culture simply isn’t relevant when you are an asshole. You have one purpose, to fill up and expel feces. Something bigots of any stripe do and do well.

Pointing fingers is so damn easy. Walking the walk, talking the talk is how I determine if an individual is a part of intelligent society or a member of the rectal group.

Are there horrible white people out there? Absolutely. There are horrible black people out there, horrible Asian people out there, horrible Middle Eastern and aboriginal. The common denominator is that they are people. Lack of empathy, of conscience, of humanity is not the sole domain of one race, one creed or one colour.

We need to move forward. Remove the racism label and call it what it is – hatred, mindless, ignorant hatred. This is the common enemy. Vilification based on race, creed, colour or gender is wrong. Division based on these labels weakens any fight for equality. Black lives matter, well yeah…however, this is divisive and counterproductive. The cold, hard truth is that all lives matter, regardless of community, city or country. The lives of people forced from their home due to political violence matter. The lives of people struggling to feed their families matter. The lives of people torn apart by violence in their streets matter. The problem is, admittedly, easier with which to deal, when you divide it. True solutions are never easy. Hatred and violence is a global issue. It is a global tragedy and while I am a pessimist when it comes to the human race, I do find myself hoping that one day, a solution will be found. I hope that one day, hatred based on bigotry will be a crime from our past.

I hope that our descendants will read from their history books and shed a tear for our ignorance.

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Fag, Hunky, Mick, Limey

Carlin2 I’m Caucasian. In another country, in another horrible time, most of the family would have been considered Aryan. Long before research discovered that we are, actually, gene mutations. Not a higher life form than those with dark eyes, dark skin but simply genes that mutated, probably due to environment.

Humans migrate; we now call it “immigrate”. We leave areas detrimental to our continued existence and seek greener pastures. It is what we do. In fact, if you are living in North America and you are not aboriginal? You are an immigrant from some other country that was not to your ancestors liking or perhaps, not of your own liking. We have all ended up here. I will be using Canada as my reference frame because…I’m Canadian.

When I was a kid and we are talking wayyyyy back in the day; my neighbourhood was like a loaf of Pom Gold bread. Whiter than white, uniform and the same; behind each door was a Mom and a Dad, and kids. All white, all the same. The biggest difference was whether or not you were Protestant or Catholic. Every Sunday morning, the various churches’ parking lots were filled to overflowing; the car doors would open and sameness would spill out in their Sunday best. Our shoes would have been shined the night before, the girls in dresses and the boys with their hair slicked down with Brylcream or a last minute application of Mom spit.

My family was a bit different and this was brought to my attention a few times, as a kid; my Dad was Protestant and my Mom was Catholic. Each group convinced the other would be spending eternity in hell. The first time someone told me that my Mom would be going to hell, I was nonplussed. I had nightmares. I spoke to my grandfather about it; he was a Protestant, he was old and I figured he’d be the one to know…after all, he was old. He told me it was a ridiculous notion and that God didn’t care what religion you were, as long as you were a good person. He told me that Mom would be going to heaven and not to worry.

That was my first introduction to prejudice. It may seem, in the grand scheme of bigotry, a very minute thing but it did teach me a life lesson. Don’t believe words that are designed to separate human beings.

Around the same time, construction started to boom in our little enclave of sameness. I heard people speaking about “Jews” moving in and not with kindness. I had no idea who “Jews” were…I asked my Mom. She told me that these were people of a different religion. I sorted through that and understood this was the same situation that had upset me so much – the whole “Mom” going to hell thing. I decided this was stupid and went about the serious business of talking my Mom into the newest Nancy Drew book.

While I read about the Haunted Staircase and The Clue in the Diary; my neighbourhood was changing. French people moved in and my Mom was the only one who could communicate with them. Most of the people on the street ignored them. After all, they weren’t “ONE OF US!”

Then a family from Guyana moved in and the entire community was agog. I met one of the daughters in school; she was my age and in my class. We became friends – Shahzeeda Khan. The only thing I ever really noticed about her was that she had gorgeous long black hair that shone in the sun. There were those in my class who wouldn’t talk to her. They were downright mean to her. It baffled me. Shahzeeda was a blast, she was a fun kid. The kids who were mean to her were not my sort anyway. They were mean to anyone who was not the same as were they. Same type of kids that told me my Mom was going to hell.

Along came Nancy. Nancy was a Korean orphan. I had absolutely no idea what that really entailed. I just liked her and she liked to play with Barbies as well. We went to Brownies together, we took ballet together and those same kids were mean to her as well. She was different. I still didn’t understand what the big deal was – yeah, she had different eyes, her skin was not white and she had thick, thick black hair but she played with Barbie, she didn’t like vegetables and hated fruit for recess.  This seemed “same” enough for me.

Then the FLQ crisis hit. Bombs went off in Montreal. The army was in front of my school because people were threatening to blow it up because…we spoke English. We WERE English. Yet they kidnapped and murdered a French guy. Again, prejudice and hate boggled my mind. I learned to associate it with ignorance and stupidity. It was and is an association that has stayed with me.

I look around at the people in my life – they come from all over the world. They represent believers of every religious sort and non-believers. Some are blonde, some have black hair, some have brown and some have hair that changes with their mood, from hot pink to purple to green. Some have white skin, some are olive, some are brown and some are almost black but that is simply their packaging. My packaging does not represent who I am because that packaging represents a crazy quilt of ancestors. I am not Irish or Ukrainian, I am not Austrian or Scottish. I am not French or German. I am Canadian. I come from immigrants. My entire country comes from immigrant stock. When the Irish came here, they were met with prejudice. They survived and thrived regardless of the ignorance of others. When the Ukrainian stock arrived, again they were met with prejudice and hatred. Hell, some of them landed in the internment camps during WWI. And they were as white as anyone already here.

Then folks of different hues arrived and were met with prejudice and hatred. They had it worse than did my ancestors. My family had the luxury of blending in and as long as they didn’t open their mouths to speak with an accent? They were all good to go.  Ignorance could be kept at bay.  When your skin marks you as different? There is no escaping the stupidity of others – it is a daily onslaught.

Later on, when I was all “growed up”, the “Gay Plague” hit. And boy, the hate-speak hit the fan. At this point, I had lost all religion some time before; it seemed to be the root of all that was evil in the world. What followed in the wake of the decimation of the gay community truly sealed my opinion that religion was simply a cover for those who wished to feel superior without any real qualifications…God’s punishment, unholy unions, Sodom and Gomorrah, child molesters and variations on the theme.

Once again, I was flummoxed. Really? Who loved whom was some sort of nefarious Satanic plot? “Fag” was a particularly loathsome and somewhat confusing term to me. My grandfather called cigarettes “fags” and I still don’t understand the connection, nor do I wish to understand it. The word when used to hurt sickens me. It transports me back to my childhood and the mean kids. I do not see the point in any of this – that two people love is the only important fact. Who or how they love is, quite frankly, none of anyone’s business. My own grandmother and grandfather ignored this – they were of different cultures. Some, in the family, hated my grandmother because she was not Ukrainian and no doubt, some hated my grandfather because he was a “Hunky” – a Ukrainian. They loved and ignored the grown up versions of the “mean kids”.

It is easy to judge based on appearance and human beings are terribly adept at seeking what comes easy. The destruction of our environment is a damn good example but so is the racism and the ugly vitriol that surrounds us. Skin, religion, sexual preference? These are things on which we judge whether another human being is good or is bad? Absurd. If that were indeed the case? I would hate Christian white people because in my school – all the mean kids were white and Christian.

Does it not make much more sense to not prejudge and base any opinions on real experience? If we want to judge on appearance? Well, most serial killers are white males. In the last century, the biggest mass murderers were white males. More child molesters are white, heterosexual males. Does this mean all white males are psychotic, murdering child molesters? As ridiculous an assumption as my Mom going to hell because she was Catholic.  Get your heads out of your ass, use that brain to think and not assume. 


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My Canada Isn’t Defined By Race, Creed or Language

multiculturalismThis is my Canada. Don’t know how you visualize your Canada but this is mine. This is our future and you know what? I welcome that future. There is no white European overlord anymore. Those days are gone and good freaking riddance because it served no one but the white elite. The mentality created divisions, consciously and with malice, designed suspicion and hatred of anyone non-European white and of course, Christian.

What difference does it make where your family came from? We need to remove the hyphen and understand that once we enter this country and call it our home. Once we make that commitment to the country and proudly, take on the citizenship – we are Canadian. We aren’t Irish Canadian, we aren’t Spanish Canadian, we aren’t African Canadian – we are simply and proudly, Canadian.

Each new wave of immigrants choosing to arrive on our shores enriches and subtly helps our identities to blossom. They bring with them a new approach to culture, a new palate, a new form of expression, of art, of learning, of communication. And of course, worship.

While those of us here have a moral and ethical obligation to welcome anyone who wishes to be a Canadian so too, do our new Canadians have an obligation to leave their prejudice and hatreds on the other side of our doorstep. New Canadians must be made to understand that there is no place for religious law in this country. New Canadians must be fully educated as to what it means to live in a democratic society. Feel free to hold up Quebec as an example of what North American democracy IS NOT.

Our past, individual and collective, is past; it’s over, it’s done – we need to turn the page and move forward, writing new chapters as we go. Oh sure, we can look back and learn from mistakes but we should not be looking back through fantasy glasses.

All of us need to erase the labels we’ve attached to ourselves. It is the only way we can come together as Canadians. Erase the German-Canadian, the English-Canadian, the French-Canadian – just be a Canadian.

You wear the hijab? I wear a ponytail. You wear a sari? I wear a Boston Bruins t-shirt. Your husband wears a dastar? Mine wears a baseball cap. Those are all accoutrements – they do not define whether or not you are a “real” Canadian.

July 1st is Canada Day. Are you a Canadian or just a hyphenated Canadian with identity issues?

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Big Decision?

syria 3Life is great for offering you different perspectives; those perspectives are always there if you choose to look – no, if you choose to “see.”

This morning, my biggest concern was whether or not I wanted to work overtime tonight. I’m never forced to really do anything; my boss uses the Jewish/European mother technique – guilt. I know what he’s doing, he knows what he’s doing and he knows that I know that I know what he’s doing. Still haven’t decided yet – it all depends on how much computer work I do during the day. If my eyes are too tired, I’ll pack it in. Guilt only works as long as I allow and if I’m being threatened with a headache and burning eyes – guilt just doesn’t cut it.

But this is my big decision of the day. Then I read the news. Kind of puts my decisions and worries into a whole other sphere. Syria – I worked via e-mail with some vendors in Syria, due to the current embargo, I no longer have contact with them and I can’t help but wonder if they are still well, if they still have a job or even a workplace that has not been reduced to rubble. Did they have family killed into the warfare over there? Did the use of Serin touch their families? Do they have access to food and water? And I’m pondering whether or not to work overtime. Yup, perspectives.

We aren’t rich, by North American standards. We are the working class. Myself, my husband, my children and most of my relatives; we’ve been working class for quite a few generations. We are far better off, economically, than were our relatives in the working class, in decades past. We have a home, not a cramped apartment; we have a backyard, we have food in the fridge, in the cupboards. We can afford medication when we’re sick. We have a vehicle, we would have 2 vehicles if I drove.

I have a pretty good computer, internet, cable television and the electronic gee gaws that go with it. We owe money, more than some and far, far less than others. We can pay our debts and we do, slowly perhaps, but they get paid. We’ve been in far, far worse shape, financially, than we are now. We don’t belong to a golf club, we don’t have season seats to anything and we don’t buy designer products.

To someone in Syria right now? I am akin to the people who live on Mount Royal (a very, very chi-chi place to live in Montreal). I am an object of envy. I have the privilege of getting up and going to a job that pays darn well. I have the joy of going to work and not worrying that bomb may explode, tearing me or people I love to shreds. I can go to the store and buy necessities from well stocked shelves. I have hot water and hygiene facilities.

To someone in Syria – I am among the very, very privileged. And I dare to think the question of overtime is worth a ponder?

An Islamic family moved in across the street from us, in our very white bread neighbourhood. I can’t help but wonder what brought them here? What caused them to leave their home country and come to a place so totally different? Different culture, food, language and religions. Someone I know had, sadly, not an unexpected reaction – fraught with bigotry and hatred – for a family unknown, with children. A family, that no doubt, sits down to dinner, a family where the kids are helped with their homework, made all the more difficult because of the language. A normal family. It saddened me greatly. I figure, you have my attention and my support for as long as you show yourself worthy – I don’t care about your culture, your skin colour or your religion; you are a member of the human race and simply because my genes mutated somewhere along the line and made me whiter than white…doesn’t lessen or greaten either one of us.

Their only crime is to wish for a better life for themselves and for their families.

Yup, that overtime decision is kind of a petty and silly one, when put into perspective.


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