reverse racism = non-existent

26 Apr

The recent number of blog posts and comments on news articles or YouTube pages I’ve read about the horrors of “reverse racism” and the “perks” of being a minority are deeply disturbing.* “Racialized” peoples are the ones who get the breaks and should stop whining about the myth of the unequal playing field and accept the fact that affirmative action is, in fact, just another one of our government’s confounded ways to cater to new immigrants and screw over “real Canadians.”

The truth is, that Canada is a white supremacist country. I am not trying to be incendiary. I am not trying to exaggerate; it’s a fact. You do not have to be a minority to know this, but you do have to consider your surroundings critically.

Yes, not all Canadians are racists, and yes, things are slowly but surely improving. But frankly, Canada’s hegemonic ideology towards race can best be described as backwards. This is reflected through immigration policies, hiring practices, and our struggle against police brutality. Racism is about power, and in Canada, the minorities simply do not have it. Therefore, reverse racism cannot exist–especially on an institutional level.

When humans speak out against racism, they are often branded as “reverse racists,” or “suck ups,” or derisively chirped for being too “politically correct.” I am so, so sick of hearing, and reading, and seeing this attitude everywhere I go. Even in academia.

I attend one of the largest, most urbanized, and diverse campuses in all of North America, but the battle is not even close to being won when it comes to racism.

With election time fast approaching, on one recent occasion, I made the mistake of getting into a discussion with one of my faculty admins about politics. (Ironically, the Eurocentrism in my program is so intense that is a wonder people can describe my field as “liberal arts”).** This person favoured a candidate who would close the doors on immigration. I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows, which apparently sent the admin into some sort of frenzy:

“These immigrants! They come here, to my country, and the government gives them everything. Free houses, benefits…what of Canadian culture? It was one thing when the settlers came here—yes, they were from all over—but they all identified as Canadians.*** These immigrants, they come here, they speak their Hindu—”

“—Hindi,” I interjected on impulse. Mistake number two.

“I don’t care! I shouldn’t have to know that! I am not ignorant! These people are in my country; they should be learning about my culture.”

The admin apparently noticed the now-palpable look of horror on my face, for the admin proceeded to smile and say, “I’m just joking.” And that was it. The admin was done talking  to at me, and back to normal again. The episode was over.

Racism is ubiquitous in Canada, but it’s just below the surface. All you need to do is scratch a little to reveal the cracks. And this admin was certainly cracked.

______

* This problematic way of thinking is akin to the equally upsetting “of course no one chooses to be gay because no would wish to go hell!” theorization on which I will probably blog another day.

** Eurocentrism in academia: another subject for another day.

*** No, they do not get free houses. And these “benefits” are given much more generously to European immigrants. In fact, one in three homeless people in Toronto are recent immigrants. Moreover, the “settlers from all over [West Europe] were in it for the land grab, not for the “unifying Canadian identity.” I’d like to hear what an Aboriginal Canadian would have to say to this admin person!

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