Racism Is Not An Event

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Now that the vigils are over and perfunctory prayers have been said for the victims of terrorist attacks in the two Christchurch mosques, how will we examine the impact of killings in our own community?

What will we do to end the scourge of white supremacy and all other forms of hate?

Immediately after Christchurch we had people on various media platforms expressing a sense of grief and solidarity with the victims. But we also had a good number of “whatabouters” — those who cruelly shifted the blame for these horrific murders on the victims themselves, simply because of the faith they shared with other 1.8 billion Muslims.

There were folks even in some minority communities circulating the murderer’s manifesto and celebrating the massacre, not realizing that the hate manifesto targets them as well for adulterating the white race.

For anyone who suggests racism does not exist in our community, or there is reversed racism, or the world would be a safer place without Muslims, I say, please stop.

We may wish to dismiss acts of vandalism, graffiti, hate rallies and verbal attacks on minorities as non-serious, and debate whether they qualify as hate crimes.

But they are all a sign that something is not right in our own backyard.

The impact these events have on those targeted cannot be lessened in any way.

In January 2017, the horrific Quebec Masjid murders took place, a stark reminder that under the veneer of polite and welcoming Canada there are voices fanning the flames of fear of immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Blacks and others.

In 2017, we should have been paying serious attention to the growing hate networks and examining right-wing extremism.

Instead, according to a Statistics Canada report, in the same year we saw hate crimes targeting religion go up by 83 per cent across the country.

In February 2017, soon after the Quebec mosque massacre, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid tabled a motion to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism, resulting in unprecedented hate and death threats directed at her.

The shutting of reasonable debate on systemic racism in our society is symptomatic of deep-seated hatred that engenders prejudice and discrimination.

If hate crimes in Canada hit a new high — an increase of 47 per cent for all hate crimes in 2017, according to the Statistics Canada report — what have we done to increase our efforts at the systemic level to counter this hate?

Are any of the right-wing nationalist and supremacist groups being put under surveillance?

Why, post-Christchurch, can a white supremacist feel emboldened to call out for targeted lone-wolf attacks at individuals and institutions that work on ending hate?

Where is the policing of these groups that call for a civilizational war and express hatred against “third world invaders?”

I have heard way too many intelligence experts make excuses about not watching the real inciters of hate in our communities. What will it take to start such a program?

As we near a federal election, let us watch for the anti-immigrant rhetoric that makes some right-wing politicians popular. As long as we have leaders and politicians who support such views and allow space for such views to fester, we cannot put an end to white supremacy.

Racism is not one event. It is not just an immoral act of racial discrimination or prejudice, not even ghastly murders resulting from hate, something we can easily condemn.

Racism is all of this — prejudice and discrimination, with a strong backing from a system.

As long as we deny that racism is embedded in our everyday systems of operation — schools, offices and universities — we cannot make much progress.

Imagine a world where we could direct the rights, resources, and privileges that create and sustain a racist structure toward dismantling this oppressive structure.

Having privilege makes us oblivious to the experiences of others.

Building walls, or carving out policies to keep other people out, or incarcerating people of colour disproportionately, is not the answer.

If we wish to bring about a positive change, let us end superiority of one people, one way of thinking, or even one way of acquiring and imparting knowledge.

It is no longer enough to say, “I am not racist.”

To end racism, we all have to actively become anti-racists, have a plan of action, and remember to stay humbly on the path of learning and unlearning.

Let us begin by validating each other’s experiences, pain, and, above all, humanity.

 

 


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