Saturday, 5 January 2013

You Can't Disguise Racism

Phrases like "I'm not racist, but..." are being thrown around a lot lately. And it's bugging me.

As Idle No More has gained momentum as a movement, like many others I have been taking in the various opinions and have developed some of my own. But, as people's emotions have started to run higher, there has also been a very sad revelation - one that I am having trouble coming to terms with as a Canadian in one of the most free and accepting places in the world. I am learning that racism is still very alive and well in my country and unfortunately, in my local community. The line between respectful disagreement and racism is pretty easy to identify. So why are so many people choosing to say or write things that clearly cross the line into racism these days?

Here's a hint to anyone who thinks it is possible in any way to disguise racism as respectful disagreement.

If a person feels they need to first qualify their comment or opinion with a phrase such as "I'm not racist, but...", guess what; it is probably a racist comment. And if the person says it anyway, that person is carrying out a racist action. The fact is that if a person truly is not racist, then that person would refrain from making a statement that could be interpreted as racism. It really is that simple.
Photo courtesy of Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards
Of course, this is only one example of how racism is being expressed in these discussions. My point is that racism should have no place in these discussions, because racism should have no place in our society. 

As we go through the next months or even years that it may take to repair the relationship between the Crown and First Nations, we will all need to pull in the same direction. The problems run deep and cannot be attributed to just one issue or just one group of people. We all share some blame and thus we all share the responsibility to make this relationship stronger and to get both parties on track in carrying out the treaties that were signed on behalf of all of us years ago.

And the simple action of each of us being respectful in what we do, say and write, including and especially when we don't agree with each other, will go a long way in making a very difficult job a lot easier.