So, we're taking matters into our own hands now as TTC users? Are we not to use the relevant authorities to report misconduct anymore? I'm referring to the now-viral video of a white woman sitting on a young black man's feet on the TTC train.
Based on some of the comments I've seen so far, are we saying that if I decide to put my feet on a seat (which I have seen others do almost every time I ride the train in the evenings), another passenger has the right to enter my personal space, sit on my feet and refuse to move, all because they want to "teach me a lesson?"
Again, I have to ask these questions, not because I wish to break the rules, but because that's the justification I am seeing across social media for this latest RACIST act right here in Canada -- the notion that, somehow, this young man deserved to be harassed and assaulted.
Certainly, his actions cannot be justified and should not be, because he broke the rules. But where in the bylaws does it speak about putting your hands on another passenger or in this case, your ass?
And to those who say her actions aren't racist, please tell me why this woman felt the need to sit on the passenger when there were several empty seats available, when a number is provided to report any kind of misconduct on the train and when other passengers reported that he wasn't the only person breaking this rule at that very moment. So again, I ask why?
I can almost guarantee that if a black woman did that to a white man, passengers from every race would speak up.
I'll tell you why! Because she is racist and she wanted to exercise her privilege. She wanted this young black man to know his place -- probably at the back of the train or not on it at all. She knew he would feel threatened and eventually would have to defend himself like any other human being, which would only add fuel to the fire so she could then make a dramatic report and probably have him arrested and entered into the system that continues to steal people of colour.
Yes, not every act by a white person is a racist one, but when you have the option to make a simple phone call or speak to a uniformed staff (especially when your life isn't being threatened), but instead choose to instigate an argument and physical attack, even going as far as following the person in question, then you clearly have some kind of agenda - a racist agenda to be exact.
The saddest part in all of this is that, despite many on the train admitting to the media that this woman was wrong to begin with, no one felt the need to intervene before this incident escalated. They obviously found time to record it, but not try to stop it.
It really begs the question, "Where have our Canadian values gone?" Because I can almost guarantee that if a black woman did that to a white man, passengers from every race would speak up then and there.
TTC subway train at platform bustling with passengers. (Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
It's getting pretty frustrating having to tell people, especially white people, what racism looks like. As a black woman, it's heartbreaking to see how such incidents are handled and how they are reported and discussed in the media. Most frightening, is the direction in which Canada is going regarding race relations.
Just look at the police force where officers continue to treat people of colour with little to no regard, or the school board trustee who still thinks the N-word is OK to use in 2017, or the countless white members of the LGBTQ community who have been very vocal these days about their disgust for the brave black men and women who fight for justice and equality in this country.
Haven't we seen enough videos and photos to open up our eyes... or are we still choosing to sit comfortably in our bubbles of privilege, all the while turning a blind eye to racism in Canada and making excuses for racist Canadians?
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Even teens with the same identity -- be it racial or gender -- can be guilty of bullying and discrimination. Ontario's Ministry of Education defines bullying as "a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation."
Social media can be a platform for bullying to continue even after school is out. Cyber bullying occurs when young people take malicious actions online. through chat rooms, email, social sites and instant messaging.
"You don't need to go into full confessional mode, but have fun with it, if that helps. Or be perfectly honest," Author Jonathan R. Miller said. Miller pens e-books with multi-ethnic characters and themes. You don't have to talk about all the nuances of your family tree every time you're asked about your background, He said. That can be exhausting. Find something that works for you personally.
"I like the word 'mixed' because it's a messy word, and in my experience growing-up mixed is exactly that," Miller said. He suggests that it's important to allow yourself to truly wrestle with questions of identity in environments you consider safe.
If you are struggling with your identity, you don't have to tell the whole world, but confide in a friend that you trust. Having someone to confide in is important. "If you can, find someone who you can talk to about your most honest, ever-evolving, often-messy answer to the question, "What am I?" Miller said.
"Maybe you don't have anyone trustworthy to talk to honestly about your experiences. Write about them. It helped me, sometimes, to get those out," Miller said. It may not make a lot of sense initially and it might feel uncomfortably personal, but write. Keep a journal, write short stories and rename the characters, try your hand at poetry -- whatever feels best.
"You are likely being told at different times, more or less, to hurry up and get off the fence, pick a side and get on with it," Miller said. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be unsure of who you are, even if your peers seem to have their acts together, he said. Teenage years are discovery years. Miller also quoted author Rainer Maria Rilke: " 'Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. ...live in the question.' That's good advice. Difficult to follow, but good."
When it comes to mixed heritage, "you don't have to be 'both' or 'other' or 'all of the above' all of the time. Sometimes the only way to figure out what you are is to choose one thing and be it for a while," Miller said. Explore how it feels to fully embrace a single aspect of your identity, for short period of time. See "what stick and what slides off." It's simply learning, Miller said.
"I can't tell you how many multi-racial people I've met who have chosen a single race or ignored race entirely and been perfectly content with the decision. A biracial friend of mine used to tell me, 'I'm black and white, yes, but I'm black. Period,' " Miller said. He said he knows many people have chosen to identify with only one aspect of their multi-background, while others have embraced the blend.
Find creative ways to occupy your time, Miller said. Join a group or do an activity (with others) where you are empowered to be who you are, instead of having to act how others think you need to be in order to fit in.
Take pride in your ethnic (culture, colour or religion) heritage. You have no control over your heritage, and you can't change that fact that this is who you are. So embrace it and learn as much as you can. "You may feel like it would be an insult to your heritage to embrace one aspect of yourself above the others, but trust me, it wouldn't be. This is important: it is not your job to uphold, with perfect equity and grace, all of the elements that went into your making," Miller said.
"Often they're the 'gatekeepers' that decide whether you're 'in' or 'out.' But what you can do is have a ready answer for the 'charges' they level against you. Whether you use humour, earnestness, or self-righteous anger, it helps to have your defense lined up and ready," Miller said. Sometimes people think all the "members" of their cultural or ethnic community must behave, dress and think a certain way. But as an individual, you can do whatever you want and find your own identity.
Follow Tasheka Lavann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tashekalavann