Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 at 10:26 am
Author: Renee Martin
Gc contributor: Renee Martin
Racism strikes again here in the Great White North, otherwise known as Canada. It seems that when you are backed into a corner, punched and have a racial slur thrown at you, acting in your own defence is an illegal activity – if you are of Asian descent. Everyone knows that the laws exist to protect “real Canadians” (read: whites).
When the Asian student was backed into a corner after being verbally abused and assaulted he responded with a punch that broke his abusers nose. Even though he is a black belt he displayed restraint by only using his left hand to defend himself. When the violence finally ended, it was not the initiator that found himself suspended and facing criminal charges.
The students attend a school where only ten Asians are registered. Keswick is also an area that is not known to be very accepting of anyone who is not white. There is also a history of what has become known of as “nipper tipping,” which is the tossing of Asian fishermen into the lake followed by the destruction of their fishing gear. The term nipper tipping is a combination of the WWII epithet for the Japanese and the childish prank of tipping sleeping cows.
The violence and racism against the Asian Canadian community led to an investigation by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. According to The Star,
“York Region and Ontario Provincial Police received special praise for increasing presence in areas where incidents of harassment had been reported. The two services also started a poster campaign titled Fish Without Fear, which provided anglers of all backgrounds with safety tips.”
Considering that incidents of violence against the Asian community are still occurring it seems to be premature to issue praise. Shayne Berwick would spend months in the hospital after the initial attack left him in a coma.
If children are acting like this, it is because adults have taught them that racism is acceptable. How is it possible that the child that initiated the conflict at Keswick High School has yet to be suspended or face criminal charges? Oops, I forgot, he’s white. The justice system functions largely to protect white privilege and punish bodies of color. Examining the disproportionate rates of incarceration make this more that evident.
The country that drafted the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is rife with racism. When Premier Jean Charest assigned a travelling commission to examine racism in Quebec residents took the opportunity to express their thoughts freely:
“When I’m in Montreal, I don’t feel at home when I see these veiled women on Côte-des-Neiges and Côte-St-Catherine,” said Micheline Bélanger at the hearings in Rimouski. “I feel like I’m in Saudi Arabia, and I shouldn’t. This is my country.” [source]
The little salad bowl adopted multiculturalism in 1971 with the guiding principle being reasonable accommodations. As the population begins to diversify, accommodations are seen as threatening to the white majority.
In an SES poll conducted by Institute for Research on Public Policy revealed that only 18% thought that it was reasonable to accommodate religious and cultural minorities. 45% said that there should be no accommodation in the workplace and finally a striking 53% felt that immigrants should adapt to Canada’s culture.
Though whiteness is the majority in Canada, the country is made up of people of various races, religions and ethnicities. Many families have resided her for generations and still retain aspects of their religion or culture that they find important. What is presented as an accommodation is false because these ideologies, religions, practices and races already exist within our borders. The issue really comes down to whiteness – understanding that though it is the majority, it does not represent all of Canada nor does it have the right to speak on behalf of all of its citizens.
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