Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stats on everyday racism in Canada

According to some recent surveys (read CBC full story), 1 in 6 Canadian adults have been subjected to racism, while 1 in 10 didn't want people from a different race as next-door neighbors. I am not a supporter of surveys, but I do realize that the power of numbers can sometimes be thought-provoking. While the numbers came from different surveys, and we do not know much about their methodology, I do see them as - at least on an anecdotal level - being supported by my everyday life environment.

While Canada is officially pursuing a policy of multiculturalism, the unofficial truth is that race or accent do raise barriers among people (and I am not referring here to the impossibility of communicating in another language, but to those barriers we construct when we decide that a person with an accent or from another race cannot possibly understand or adhere to the 'Canadian' lifestyle). I have heard on so many occasions people arguing that it is 'hard to work with Chinese' or that 'living in a building where there are Africans is unsafe'. I have heard immigrant students complaining that they do not understand their professors because of their accent. And I have heard people congratulating others for having 'such a good accent in English'.

While racism may be rejected officially, there is a long way from having a policy of multiculturalism and bragging about it, and actually having multicultural communities, where people do not relate to each other through their race or accent, but rather relate to each other as human beings first and foremost. From my own experience, I have found that having friends who share similar values and preferences has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, language, accent.

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