Racism is alive and well

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[1C] CTV NewsDefacing the Canadian Mosaic must stop

Author: john loeppky- sports editor

If one imagines Canada as an art gallery, the main attraction would be the Canadian mosaic. Born at the dawn of the Canuckian cultural imagination, this piece of art is the Great White North’s calling card. Those attending this hypothetical arts hall-of-fame to see the mosaic would include the glad-handing politicians, the artists dreaming of paying their bills, and local high schoolers excited to be skipping math on a class. They could witness the warped versions of prairie landscapes and the abstract paintings that only the artist, the artist’s dog and the artist’s drug dealer could vaguely understand. All the while withstanding the droning voice of a teenage guide who wouldn’t know the classical period if it hit him in the nuts with a bowl made from their own pottery wheel, just to see the masterpiece in the flesh.

However, the problem is that much like The Scream and film funding, the mosaic has been repeatedly stolen from us. Not only that, the Canadian Mosaic, titled to frame our country as a model of inclusiveness, has been vandalized, whitewashed, abused, defaced and left at a racist yard sale to die.

We like to think that our country is not racist. We believe we accept all people while amalgamating their cultural currency into our own. We believe we are ­compiling each and every individual glory to create a whole, equaling the sum of its (enviable) individual parts. We have the Americans to blame for this false perception.

We believe our rowdy neighbours to the south to be the exact opposite. They, to many Canadian adults, are our backwoods brethren. We think the confederate-flag-waving yahoos that bemoan anything approaching human decency or cultural inclusiveness are the sole racists. We are wrong.

Yes, racism is alive and well in good ol’ America. But don’t think we have escaped it here. How many people speak about the cultural and social fallout of residential schools? We ignore the fact that we had our own internment camps during WWII. We are not immune. And it’s not just past examples that I can call on.

The other day, I heard a gentleman (for I must stay civil) call social welfare programs “The Indian birthright.” My Facebook feed is filled with people who were cheering when the confederate flag was taken down in South Carolina, but would be the first to make a racist comment about First Nations people. We have painted ourselves perfect, but have forgotten the land we are standing on and have embraced our ignorance in order to feel comfortable. We have become incapable of separating the various biases we all hold (though they vary) and have denied their existence.

And we should not, no, cannot continue to lie to ourselves. It is this attitude that has left us with a society that has relegated itself to comparisons with its sibling. “Well, at least we aren’t as bad as them.” Instead of owning up to the missteps, we have once again shoved them under the rug. In short, because admitting guilt means admitting mistakes and admitting mistakes apparently, in the minds of the societal elite, means declaring defeat. Waving a white flag, all the while declaring, “But we aren’t racist. Really, we aren’t.” What are we then? You know, other than ignorant?

 

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