So a few days ago people from the Deer Lake First Nations reserve (in Manitoba) were evacuated from their homes due to huge forest fires in the area. Some 600 people were put on planes to Toronto, then bussed to a huge empty building in Smith Falls. The town pulled together, providing cots and catering, bedding and diapers. It’s a fabulous story of a town opening their hearts and arms to families in need.
Rumours have been going around about the evacuees. You know. THOSE people. Some residents of Smith Falls are scared that THOSE people will hurt their children, their families, steal their cars and rape their women. As is the custom with anyone, y’know, not white.
Reading this last night absolutely enraged me. I was so angry I could hardly fall asleep and the whole thing made me sick to my stomach.
Look, I am fully aware that for much of my life I have lived in a blissful bubble of ignorance. When we were small, my mom moved us from our hometown of Trenton, Ontario because there was only one black family and one Asian family. My mom moved her children to another city so they would grow up loving, accepting and open-minded of everyone no matter their colour…so I grew up loving, accepting and open-minded of everyone. In my ignorant bubble, the only people that were racist were, like, really old people. Surely no one in my generation was racist! We know better than that!
My bubble popped when I was in my early 20s and a friend told me a story of two young kids at her summer camp who were discussing boys they liked. One said she liked Jimmy SoandSo, and the other girl said “Well, you can’t like him. He’s black. Black people and white people can’t be friends.” These kids were eight years old.
When I heard that story, I couldn’t believe my ears. Racism in kids? In the ‘naughts?!*
The older I got, the more I saw racism in the world, and eventually my bubble solution dried up, and I learnt that racism was alive and thriving everywhere – not just in movies or the deep south.
Can you imagine being told you had 30 minutes to pack what you could, throw the children in the car and run while your house burnt down behind you? Then, all of a sudden, you’re in a new town, living on cots and getting dirty glares from people in the city simply because of the colour of your skin or the religion you follow? Like, what the shit?! How is that even a possibility?!
Judging someone based on their skin colour is absolutely absurd. There are white people that steal and Christians that rape and White Christians that go around killing people. I mean, look at the terrible tragedy in Norway last week; a cartoon I saw said something akin to “If a brown person committed this terrible act, we’d call him a Muslim terrorist. But when a white person does it, we just call him a lone crazy person.” Are there times when you should be afraid walking through a crowd of people that are different than you? Yes. If you’re walking through a haunted ghost-zombie insane asylum, yes. You should be afraid because the ghost-zombies will eat you. But walking through Little India or Africa-town at 1am? I can assure you the scariest thing you’ll see is a drunk 905er** puking on the side of the road while her boyfriend tries to figure out where the Blue Light stop is.
To the people who are terrified that someone is going to kill their family so they can steal a few CDs, I say this: what if it was you? What if you had to pick up and move your family on a moment’s notice, and you were re-settled in a town where YOU were the minority? How would you feel if YOUR kids were being teased and couldn’t walk through the grocery store without getting dirty looks, all because you were white?
I think it’s time for these people to throw away their stereotypes and irrational fears, and try to learn to love people no matter what their skin colour, religious beliefs or sexual preference. What you believe will transfer to your children, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting their kid to grow up as a bigot.
Go hug a black person, guys. I promise it’ll feel great.
* (I’ve decided to call the early 2000’s the ‘naughts)