Racism Makes Society Weaker
THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Racism is a subject that many people shy away from. I remember growing up as a child, and the prevailing attitude for many was ‘Canadians are not racist’. Watching the television news in the late 1960s and early 1970s and seeing what was happening in the United States, with the civil rights movement, you saw a sharp contrast between Canada and the United States. It was easier to be content that Canadians were just so much better than others.
The truth, as we all know it, or as we all should know it is racism holds to no political boundaries.
Growing up in Winnipeg the ‘Ethnic Jokes’ about Ukrainians were the most common. There were also other jokes, and comments about other identifiable groups.
In Thunder Bay today, we have the opportunity to build better relations across the lines of race. We have at our core our common humanity. We are all one race, the human race. When we embrace the cultural differences and respect each other we will all be better off. That seems harder for some people than it is for others.
Increasingly in our Thunder Bay we see crime, vandalism, and we see problems. The reality is that until we figure out that it is a social issue that can be solved, we are going to continue to have problems.
When we ignore the impact of racism, we prevent ourselves, as a society from working toward a solution.
A recent opinion piece by Damien Lee, exposing some of the racism in our city has for many flipped over the sidewalk block and exposed some of the racism in our community.
It is not easy to read the comments by many of the people on articles like that. Many people appear, through social media to completely ignore the fact that online they are exposing their attitudes, and in some cases exposing the companies that they work for to the public with all their faults and warts. There are comments by many in our community and beyond which demonstrate, in my opinion that the work to make Thunder Bay a community where respect and the great efforts by Confederation College and the City of Thunder Bay are left with many many kilometres to go before their reach their goals.
Some find the exposure of such comments so painful that they would rather not see them published. Some of the people who have had their comments made public have removed their accounts.
One of the ways to make sure racism ends is simple. Flip over the rock and expose the racist attitudes to the light of day.
Some feel that racism in our community is a one-way street. Sadly, it is not. There are comments from all sides. The real issue is that there needs to be a dialogue.
“Clearly there is a gap…”
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau states, “Clearly there is a gap, which has prohibited true diversity, pride, and self worth for many. The recent comments made, only reaffirm my belief in that we have a lot of work to do. It is all our responsibility to ensure we educate and raise awareness, especially with our younger generations. When someone is left to defend themselves for being of a particular ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ it is at that very moment they no longer feel human; rather a product of defect and lesser value”.
Perhaps in those words, the wisdom of this young and dynamic leader can be seen and respected.
Each Problem Represents Opportunity
Every problem presents an opportunity for positive change. It would be way easier to simply try to hide from the acts of racism in our city. However standing up and working toward positive change means working together.
It is not only good for Thunder Bay for residents and civic officials to stand up to racism and work to eliminate it, but it makes sense too.
There is a long and very positive history of benefit when we work together. That started in the earliest days when Fort William was the trading post for the Northwest Company.
Today there are huge benefits for all of us working together.
Choosing Our Words
There are lots of terms that we find in common use that are offensive to one group or another.
Although the police don’t seem to place many charges for hate crimes in our city, that is not to say those crimes are not happening.
There are instances of what can only be called hate crimes happening in our city. Reports of attacks on people both ‘white’ and Aboriginal by groups of people are just sad. Most of the time those attacks never make the news. They can be found by looking at the Crime Report map, and by talking to people who have been attacked.
Some of the root causes of hate are simple to find. Poverty causes anger and racism. Inaction causes anger and racism.
Thunder Bay is moving forward toward solving the issues facing our city. To be very blunt, it is not just a Thunder Bay, not just a Northwestern Ontario and not just an Ontario issue. It is a national issue.
This week in Thunder Bay the new Northwestern Ontario Immigration Portal was re-launched. Immigration to our city, and to our region is a critically important part of our future prosperity.
The City of Thunder Bay is working toward solving the issues facing many in our city.
Those steps are positive, and we all need to step up and start realizing that until we all come together we are all going to struggle and suffer from racism.