Race Relations He Looks Like A Mafia Don
Online Comments About Race
Negative comments we make about people based on race, is no longer confined to the dinner table or backyard barbeque. We also go online and let our views be known.
This might catch up with us somewhere down the line as it happened to Lorrie Steeves. Her 2010 Facebook comments about aboriginal people surfaced in 2014 when Gord Steeves her husband, was running for Winnipeg mayor.
Steeves wrote that she was “really tired of getting harassed by the drunken native guys in the skywalks. We need to get these people educated so they can go make their own damn money instead of hanging out and harassing the honest people.”
The post also said: “We all donate enough money to the government to keep their sorry asses on welfare, so shut the (expletive) up and don’t ask for another handout.” SOURCE: Globe and Mail.
Race and Identity
The world is now called a global village because of the internet. It was called a melting pot before that, but somehow we still have pre-conceived notions about people and how they look like: their height, eyes, skin colour and cultural clothes. We then call them good or bad based on that.
Ariyana Miyamoto, a bi-racial young woman made headlines in March 2015, when she won the Miss Universe Japan crown. Critics call her a ‘hafu’ (half Japanese) because her mother is Japanese and father is African American.
Miyamoto holds a Japanese passport, speaks fluent Japanese, has a fifth-degree mastery of Japanese traditional calligraphy and lists her hobbies as cooking and travelling.
It shows how judging a book by its cover leads to wrong and dangerous conclusions.
It is okay if I don’t know the difference between a person of Japanese and Chinese origin, but it is the pinnacle of arrogance if I give the impression that I do.
My name is Juzo Itami.
Oh! You must be Chinese.
The person who introduced himself is left with only one impression. You did not listen.
He told you his name but you came to the conclusion that he is Chinese because of how he looks. It is even worse, if he is a Canadian and a descendant of Manzo Nagano, the first recorded Japanese immigrant who landed in British Columbia in 1877.
People of Japanese and Chinese descent do not look alike. They know it. I don’t, so I can contribute to positive race relations by admitting my ignorance and listen, especially because the two wars between Japan and China left some indelible scars.
Some of them are depicted in films such as Red Sorghum directed by Zhang Yimou and Farewell My Concubine by Chen Kaige.
Respect for Names
There is a lot riding on a person’s name. I thought my name was unique until I found more people called Nonqaba on Google.
Canadian and American history have many examples where people changed their Polish and Jewish names to avoid ostracism. The Hitler legacy also made some Germans abroad to anglicize their names.
Others had no intention of hiding their heritage. They just wanted it to be easier for their colleagues at work and for their kids to avoid being taunted on the school playground.
Respect for other people’s names is a step forward to healthy race relations. People who are called George, Sebastian, Vladimir, Francesca, Marietta, Victoria, Robert take their names for granted. They happily respond when people call them.
Maybe that is why it never occurs to them how a person feels when he introduces himself and he is told: I can’t say that. Can I call you Jim or Joe?
This presupposes that there are ideal names and pothole names that should be filled with decent cement from predominant languages.
Aboriginal People (First Nations of Canada)
Aboriginal people in countries called Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States have English and French names, but some of them still have their original names. We might learn a little bit about these countries if we ask the following questions:
What language is your name?
What does it mean?
How are children given names in your culture?
Can you write it down for me?
Stereotypes Racial Profiling
Stereotypes are based on the wrong notion that there are perfect and imperfect races. Perfect races are perceived as having no social problems at all.
Imperfect races have all the ills of society you can think of: alcohol and drug abuse, crime, many children who are neglected, school dropouts, unemployment, money problems or excessive love for money to the extent of cheating customers and international finance in some cases.
That is why when we watch something in the news we say: I knew it.
The correct response should be, I would not like that to happen to me, my child, my family or anybody I know. We seldom react like that because of comfort zones that it only happens to people like ‘them.’
Democracy and equality are the cornerstones of American foreign policy. It is ironic that America flies millions of miles away to defend human rights, while killing some of its citizens at home.
Racial profiling makes a mockery of constitutions North Americans hold dear because it can lead to a night in jail, and death in the hands of the police for African American young men. Stereotypes and racial profiling make it O.K. to strip human beings of their right to be.
Are there diversity courses? Yes, in your own backyard, 24/7 in the following places:
Canadian place names like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ottawa or Sioux Lake. What is their origin?
Australian place names such as Canberra, Doonan or Gungahlin. What is their origin?
Your next door neighbours from different cultures.
Parent and teachers’ meeting.
At the gym, the person on the left treadmill.
Colleagues at work whose parents were born somewhere else.
How to Avoid Stereotypes
The safest way is to listen and learn when you meet new people. Don’t comment until you have the whole picture, otherwise you might offend someone unintentionally.
I had a colleague whose parents were born in the south of India. She said she got so tired of being asked about curry in cocktail parties, she came up with a unique introduction: My name is Nandini and I don’t do curry.
Don’t mention the good work your daughter is doing with poor people in Africa if someone says he is from Africa.
Don’t tell people that you enjoyed The Godfather if someone says she is from Italy. By the way that movie has millions of followers even today.
Don’t tell someone you think is Japanese, that you want to buy a kimono but do not know how to put all the layers on.
Don’t tell people your accountant is good because he comes from a certain race.
I have this joke. I’m not racist or anything. You’ve said it so, don’t even go there.
They are taking over. This is a ridiculous statement if you live in Canada. Just as God gave Ireland to the Irish and England to the English, what is called Canada was given to the Algoquin, Chipewyan, Dakota, Dene, Ojibway, Peguis and other First Nations. That is why immigrants that settled in Canada earlier, let’s say 1950, cannot say people who came in the last five years, are ‘taking over.’
It is easy to argue that we are all entitled to our opinion, but it is dangerous when there are kids around. They are bound to end up believing things they hear at home all the time.