In both the U.S. and Canada, Muslims face real scrutiny, fanned by politicians out to earn xenophobic votes and media folk out to sell copies. North American society, on both sides of the border, needs to get to grips with five key misconceptions if it wants to contribute to a clean, prejudice-free society.
It seems every time a black person becomes a horrific hashtag that reignites the dire need of structural change in a system that doesn't prioritize black lives as important or equal, there's always a large contingent of folks ready to utter the same ignorant retort of, "Black people need to fix their/our communities FIRST, before worrying about [insert extreme act of racism here]." This bullshit trope is quickly reeled out by non-black people who are uncomfortable with acknowledging the factually disproportionate racism that we suffer from everyday.
It's a very bad time for racism in the United States. It would make sense to work toward lowering the level of racial tension in the country, rather than inflaming it. It's one thing to honour the fallen soldiers of the American civil war, but it's another thing altogether to insist on waving a flag that to so many, represents violence, hatred and oppression toward African Americans.
A group called the Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators set out to complete the first ever comprehensive survey of black teachers in the province, specifically the racism they face. The survey was only able to reach 148 teachers, but the insight they were able to provide is shocking to those who have no idea what it's really like to be a black teacher.
I've spoken to thousands of environmental and community activists during many years of meeting with Canadians across this country. I've heard too many stories of people being harassed, ostracized, sued for standing up to large corporations and even fired from jobs because of their environmental advocacy. Canadians must continue to speak out for our water, land, air and wildlife, for justice for Indigenous Peoples, and for a clean energy future -- without fear of harassment, intimidation and hatred.
In a stunning about-face enlightened evolution, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the end of carding in his city this week. As the congratulatory backslapping spread across Hogtown, the rest of the province and the rest of the country is left eating dust. For us, carding carries on. To eradicate carding in Canada, this case must be heard in the highest courts. Judges must remind all citizens, including mayors, premiers and prime-ministerial hopefuls, that equality and fairness are more than filatures for flowery speeches
Ontario Premier Wynne ascended to power by winning over the small clique of Liberal Party members who can afford leadership conference fees and travel expenses. Both Ontario women and LGBT communities rejoiced at this opportunity to have, for the first time, one their own at the seat of power. People of colour and hijab-wearing Muslim-Canadian women face acute harassment that falls outside the sort explicitly described in Wynne's plan. As a candidate, Wynne reached out to visible minorities on her way to the mountain top. Then she forgot about them.
I started to wish I was white. I didn't necessarily want to not be Chinese. I just wanted to look like the celebrities in the movies I watched. The online outrage at the casting of Quvenzhané Wallis in the titular role in Annie, and the simultaneous approval or silent passivity at that of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead in The Prince of Persia, Rooney Mara as a Native American girl in Pan and Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese woman in Ghost in the Shell teaches people of colour that being white opens doors that'll always be closed to us. While I'm glad to see that people are more outspoken about diversity nowadays, there are bodies like the Academy that continue to try and mute their voices. This is inadequate for our multicultural society.
CBC Television went national in 1958. The CTV Television Network followed three years later. Both TV networks have grown into a Canadian staples. Over a half century, consumer habits have changed. But have the networks evolved with the changing face of the viewership? The best Canadian content is the one which reflects the full spectrum of the Canadian identity -- before and behind the cameras.
On February 12, Harper vowed to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow Muslim women to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. Speaking to the press about the matter, Harper said, "That is not the way we do things." He added that, "This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and I think we find that offensive." This is a classic example of opportunistic feminism, which so many white men like to make use of from time to time.
The deceased Mr. Spence left his entire estate of $400,000 to his daughter Donna. He cut his daughter Verolin out of his will, reputedly because of racial bias. Madam Justice Gilmore ruled that this offended public policy, and was therefore rendered void. Once there is no will, the law decrees that each child of the deceased receives an equal share of the estate.
While we should be shocked that these atrocities are committed, we should not be so shocked that they are committed within our borders, because this violence really is not as much of a "lone wolf" attack as we think. We are far more entrenched in this barbarous violence than we would have ourselves believe.
Over the next few weeks, you will see no shortage of functions organized by historical societies, libraries, and schools dedicated to Black History. You may even catch the corporate giants sponsoring short vignettes on black history, or perhaps a rerun of "Amistad," "Roots" or "Malcolm X." During our school years, we spend months, perhaps years, studying history. Yet, how much importance is given to the history of blacks?
There is no doubt in my mind that what happened to the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo was an unacceptable tragedy. Nobody should die because of their views.Still, despite the tragedy of the lives lost, I still cannot stand behind the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan. And the automatic herd of people rushing to back the slogan without applying critical thought to it or educating themselves about the publication is a deeply troubling phenomenon.
Now a few days after the horrific attack in Paris, hashtag #JeSuisCharlie floats about the Internet as a neoliberal nod of solidarity to those who were killed in yesterday's attack. While I see its good intentions, in the big picture this hashtag serves as a demonstration of alliance with that coveted icon of western identity: freedom of speech. But make no mistake, the reasons the perpetrators carried out this attack were more complex than simply freedom of speech. For what is pitifully lacking in most every media representation of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo is the historical background of what this attack was about.
There should be no mistake, it's more embarrassing for an adult to not know Kanye at this point in time than it is for a teen to not know McCartney. White dominance of cultural norms is the only reason click-bait articles decrying the masses of 50-somethings who don't know who Kanye West is aren't being published.