I find interesting stuff when I look through my files. I just came on a column I wrote in 1992 which my then-editor called: ‘Prejudice and bigotry return’. Why did I write it?? Maybe it was because Kim Campbell, as Minister of Justice, declared we don’t have prejudice in Canada and I wondered what planet she lived on. It was also probably a time when the economy was hurting and when things are bad, bad stuff happens.
Growing up in Montreal when I did, we were the wrong faith and suffered for it, however I wasn’t even aware of the racism suffered by our small black community. It was only en-route to Los Angeles by bus in my late teens that I learned about the extent of discrimination against blacks in the U.S. and was appalled.
I want to share this column with you because of the present pandemic, the depressed economy, and ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrators trying so hard to fight racism which, unfortunately, still thrives.
Here’s what I wrote in March, 1992:
‘Unfortunately prejudice and bigotry don’t go away. They continue to fester just under the skin and as soon as trouble hits, like right now, the disease surfaces and again, we’ve lost our dignity. Neo-nazism proliferates in newly united Germany and foreigners everywhere are attacked by hoodlums.
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reports a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during 1991. Meanwhile in Canada, 12-year old native hockey players are not welcomed in Quebec families’ homes. Two Rotarians stalk out when their club, God help us, accepts a female member.
Women and children suffer the consequences of male frustration caused by unemployment. Crisis centres are overloaded with calls from the bruised and battered.’
The article is too long to ask you to read it all so I’ll end it here. It could have been written right now. Don’t you agree?
Things have changed so little over the years. But I’m still hopeful because I see many parents now bringing up their children in a positive manner, and that will surely change the world, even if slowly.
Love the sign in your children’s home.
Thank you Jaya: I hope you are right and things WILL improve. Yes, I am proud of my children who know that embracing all kinds of people adds pleasure to our lives. Stay well….
Here in the USA, our horror of a president is doing his very best to push race relations in the wrong direction. While we no longer have signs saying “Whites Only”, we certainly have minds thinking it.
We in Canada are well aware of what is happening in the U.S. I love you and wish for a change in the administration with the upcoming election for everyone’s sake. Trump must go.
My God, that picture of “White Only Restroom” is just horrible and embarrassing.
It shocked a very young, inexperienced me. I wanted to spite them and use the ‘Black Only’ washroom, but there weren’t any!!!! Can you believe? It was terrible indeed. We need to all work together to change things. Thanks for commenting. Stay well….
Really it’s a mirror to our society. I am glad you shared this post, let’s change this together 👍
Indeed. We need to all work together and shall all benefit as a result. When we embrace the differences, we gain dignity. Stay well and stay in touch.
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When I was a Canadian-in-training, I flew at every opportunity from Columbus to Toronto to Vancouver to visit my sweetie. Oh, I wore such rose-coloured glasses. Then I sat with two women from Toronto. They wanted to clue me in on the problems of black people in Canada, as in there were two many of them. I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was. I learned that Canadians are just people, too, and subject to the same failings as other folks. We can never accept prejudice whether in Vancouver, West Liberty, Ohio, or Gulf Shores, Alabama—or in a middle seat on a 747.
Hi Judy: My first week in Vancouver I saw a large stone near the water which had written on it (in large red letters) “Chink go home.”. I will never forget it. And that was BEFORE COVID:19. Yes, prejudice lives everywhere, even in our beautiful city.
Glad to hear from you. Hope you and Donna are both okay., Love, Muriel
Yes, it definitely could have been written right now, I do agree. Did you hear that our Chief Medical Officer in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, has received death threats recently? She believes this is mainly because she is a woman in a position of power. And the anti-Asian sentiments from some ignorant people are shocking, but racism is still alive and well, unfortunately.
Yes, rereading it after all these years and realizing it could’ve been written today saddened me. I am aware, unfortunately, that Dr. Henry is being threatened and harassed because she is a woman. Will we ever see things improve???? Regards. Stay well.
Thank you for reading Rafi: And being the son I am so proud of. Love,. Mom
Every life matters, i only see the human race on this planet, but others think differently to me, i remember many years ago I started work in a warehouse and at the lunch break time i sat with the man whom had been training me, this was wrong because i was white and he was black, other workers try to get me to move but I refused, i explained that I only see another human being in the man who was training me, after work that day a few of the workers who was all white men tried to beat me up, but again I was having none of this, the next day at work i again sat with who i wanted at lunch, this was my first experience of racism.
True that all lives matter, however those of us who are white are privileged in our racist society. Good for you for not paying attention to the colour of anyone’s skin. I applaud you!
Its the way i was brought up by my mother i guess.
Me too I guess.
May I just say that I think your a very attractive woman
In Canada, we love to think that there is no racism, but this is because we are comparing it to other places. The sad truth is that although there are many beautiful and inclusive people in this country, there are also ones that are not, ones that are ignorant, ones that are hateful for whatever reason. We see the occasional swastika, a verbal or physical attack on visible minorities, but also more systemic issues such as lack of drinking water in northern communities. We are just really really nice about it.
I chuckled a little when I read ‘We are just really nice about it.’ We Canadians like to say we are nice. But, we are ordinary people with ordinary faults and prejudices. We have a lot of work to do before that saying becomes true. Thanks for reading and have a good 2021.