Why am I a ‘racialized’ Canadian?

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Sabrina Almeida

To get past the brownface/blackface controversy let’s answer the question ‘racialized’ Canadians have been asked repeatedly since the ‘scandalous’ photos of Trudeau came at us from everywhere. Most of us brown people (except for Jagmeet Singh, I guess) weren’t disturbed or ‘hurt’ by Trudeau’s foolishness. If anything, he denigrated his family and position as an educator. Perhaps he thought he would paint himself into the character of Aladdin, something he has been trying to do with his role of PM over the past four years. As he said in his interview to Global News, his visits to mosques, gurudwaras, etc. should exonerate him.

Since my sons are hyper sensitive about racism (towards others), I just had to ask them how they felt about it. Surprisingly, they laughed. The younger one said he accepted Trudeau’s apology and that it was time to move on. He was out the door before I could probe some more. The older one said he didn’t think much of our prime minister anyways. Ouch! Then he raised his eyebrows indicating he didn’t really care, so I didn’t pursue the matter. Despite the efforts of his political rivals to stick it to him and the fact that recent polls by Angus Reid Institute and Ipsos have him trailing the Conservative Party by 5 and 4 percentage points respectively, chances are the embarrassment won’t affect Trudeau’s votes in the long run.

Jagmeet Singh’s response to the photos was over the top and in my observation even less sincere than the offender’s apology. Had he to call it like it was ‘ignorance’ and ‘privilege’ rather than ‘racism’ I might have thought better of him. But it’s the run up to the elections and an opportunity to milk the situation. It also seems to have worked as the polls show a slight rise in his numbers. But we’ll see how long that lasts.

What really offends me though is being pegged as a ‘racialized’ Canadian. It reeks of colour bias. The original inhabitants of Canada being the indigenous people, everyone else including those of European-origin is a person of colour. But the term rarely refers to ‘the white race’. Being seen as a ‘racialized minority’ is as discriminatory as it can get. If we are sincere about being equal, we need to get rid of all labels. Understandably, this might not work for those who like to play the racist card to their advantage. Which unfortunately is reinforced by the politicians who feel they must field candidates from the respective communities to get ethnic votes. Why can’t candidates pledge to represent the interests of all those in their riding?

The truth is that we are as obsessed with race in Canada as most Indians are with caste and class. To me the ‘racialized minority’ status feels like scheduled caste and tribe categories in the home country that were accorded special reservations for advancement. The classifications here and there were hand outs from the upper echelons. While some of the marginalized communities in India have made tremendous progress on account of it, the same cannot be said for racialized immigrants except if they own businesses. Both private and public sector employees from these communities will tell you that they are on a short leash. Most companies hire minorities merely as a PR exercise. If you don’t look, sound and dress the part chances are you won’t get in the door. Shouldn’t hiring be on merit and not because of your name or gender?

Then there is that ‘Canadian experience’ criteria which is disguised racism!!! Meeting immigration requirements should mean you’re qualified to work! Immigrants from Europe, and especially Britain, seem to be able to bypass this requirement fairly easily. We’ve all heard about how the Indian accent and brashness is a deterrent but ironically it doesn’t seem to come in the way of becoming a politician.

And why do we need an India day to celebrate the country’s independence if we are Canadian?

Multiculturalism only serves vested interests and perpetuates divisions. To me being inclusive means helping immigrants adopt a Canadian identity, not hang on to their previous one!
I don’t want to be labelled as a racialized minority or Indo-Canadian. Just Canadian is good enough for me! -CINEWS

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