Canindia News

Stop treating racialized students as victims

Pradip Rodrigues

A news report recently reported that the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) was greatly disappointed after the Ontario College of Teachers made the decision to only suspend, a construction technology teacher in the Peel District School Board for a period of six months after he made a racist remarks to a student.

The report said that the teacher said this to the student with an Afghan background: “I don’t want you to blow up my class. No Afghanis in here!”

Unfortunately, most reports that allege discrimination or racism never give the full story. It leaves the reader scrambling to figure out if the student did or said something to warrant such a ridiculous remark from the teacher or whether the errant teacher was attempting some politically incorrect humour or simply being racist. Either way such talk from a teacher is unacceptable, but it doesn’t have to devastate the student.

But the fate of the teacher is of less concern to me than the fate of the student as reported in the news report. Apparently, that statement itself has had a very negative effect on him. The report revealed that he now feels like an ‘invisible person sitting in class.’ Seriously?

Whenever I come across such stories, my first thought is that activists have seized yet another issue and blown it out of proportion in order to gain publicity and compensation for pain and suffering.

I won’t be surprised if I soon start seeing reports that the student’s mental state has deteriorated and will need monetary compensation to get better.

In the old days, Jews, Italians and other minority children in schools suffered slurs, beatings and insults on the playground and classroom and dealt with it or sucked it up. Mercifully things that were tolerated and normalized are no longer acceptable. This is not to suggest that students in classrooms have to let racist comments go, but rather they should be taught not to let a racist remark or action define them.

I suspect that the Afghan student who now feels invisible in class is being encouraged to feel that way because it is expected of him. All the adults around him are encouraging him to feel and act like a victim and pretty soon he will end up being one for real. The adults dealing with such situations should definitely call out racist behavior and remarks but should be using such incidents as teaching opportunities. Students need to be more resilient and thick-skinned. If students can be taught strategies to deal with insensitive comments and painful remarks, they will more skillfully navigate through life without going into depression at the first hint of trouble in the workplace and life in general. We are conditioning our youth to wallow in self-pity and that is quite possibly contributing to the mental health crisis which seems to be growing by the day.

We pay a price when we tip poorly

Talk to any South Asian working in the service industry and they will tell you that they not only prefer working for white bosses, they even prefer serving white customers over their own kind.

Here’s a case in point. Late last year the owner of a South Asian-run beauty salon in Brampton bought an existing business located in a predominantly white neighborhood in another city. An acquaintance I know told me that the South Asian owner and her staff can’t stop gushing about their white clientele. Turns out that the staff and owner love it here because white people tip generously and are very courteous. During the holidays, they were touched when so many of their clients brought gifts for each one of them with personalized cards.

The owner is even planning on getting a Keurig coffee machine so her customers can enjoy complimentary coffee while they wait. Needless to say, staff turnover has been negligible because they are happy the amount they now make on tips. In Brampton, tips were not the norm. The clients in their new location coming in for hair coloring or facials quite often leave them with $10 and even $20 tips. Who can blame them for giving preferential treatment to their white clients while their Indian clients get noticeably poorer service?

An owner of an upscale Indian restaurant once told me that his servers groaned and grumbled whenever they had to serve South Asian customers because not only were they unfriendly and sometimes rude, they tipped very poorly if at all. Needless to say, the staff loved serving white diners as they tended to be more courteous and tipped generously.

I know many well-heeled South Asians who hate the idea of giving tips. I once went out for dinner with someone who left a $2 tip on a $90 dinner bill. And the person who took me out was a millionaire.

To avoid poor service at bars and lounges, an acquaintance once shared a tip- he paid the server a $5 tip after he got his first order. That way the server was motivated, happy and provided prompt service throughout the evening and he always left a good tip.

There are many South Asians who argue that they should get great service regardless of whether they tip or not. Put that same question to an international student serving you at a restaurant or a beauty salon and you will get a different answer. -CINEWS

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