Canada Is Still Racist: And No Think Piece Can Change That

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-03-06 17:57Z by Steven

Canada Is Still Racist: And No Think Piece Can Change That

Vice Canada: The Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information

Anupa Mistry

When I was younger and more naïve and shielded by my parents, Canadian multiculturalism felt real and true. I grew up in Brampton, Ont., a restlessly expanding suburb of Toronto that teems with immigrants. In 1992, the city – or, at least, my grade two classroom – was a case study in the celebratory, preservation-minded policy of Trudeau’s multiculturalism: My pale blonde friend Zeyn was from Turkey and Afia and all her cousins were Pakistani. Ebony and Roxanne had parents from Jamaica, Seth The Pervert was a Newfie, and Natasha, whose surprise birthday party I ruined because I cannot keep those kinds of secrets, constantly had relatives visiting from Guyana.

There was never a need to question where I fit in, and that same school year when some sniveling, store brand whiteboy called me a ‘Paki’ I went home and told my parents and cried because I knew from TV that that was what I was supposed to do. In reality, while I still remember exactly how the light filled the air in that bustling elementary school hallway, I was left largely unfazed by first contact with overt racism. Even my eight-year-old mind could grasp that dude was either scared, stupid or, at the very least, outnumbered. In that multiethnic microcosm his bad attitude was undesirable, and I was the normal one. He had nothing to take. There might not be a better place to grow up brown or black than Brampton.

Then, I enrolled in a performing arts high school north of the city only to transfer after two years because it was too white. Race as it actually functions, as a tool of human insidiousness and despotism, became real beyond my imagined utopia. As a millennial citizen of the Western world I move with an according sense of privilege: whatever you got, I’ma have that too. It’s my birthright, regardless of the colour of my skin or where my grandparents are from. Until it’s not. In hindsight my problem with that school was an inability to articulate feeling exposed and significantly different and, for the first time in my life, outnumbered. I’d taken diversity for granted; my normal was not so much…

…Two recent high profile pieces by Canadian writers are willfully naïve about the psychic reality of this country’s demographics…

…Fear is kind of the subtext for “Mixie Me,” a personal essay about being mixed race by Nick Hune-Brown in Toronto Life, with the attendant claim that the city is set to be the world’s first post-racial metropolis. Mixed race people are a more common sight on the streets of Toronto now, more than ever, and there’s comfort to be taken in that kind of visibility, he writes. Anxieties about interracial unions have given way to curiosity. Sexy, ethnically ambiguous mixies are what makes Toronto desirable next to taco restaurants and condos and a trap music party every night of the week. The beige and the beautiful will blur the lines that constitute xenophobia, or at least confuse us into submission.

Glib eugenics aside, there is a lot of merit to visibility. It’s why I was able to easily dismiss that second grade bully. But I’m skeptical that birthing a Yoruba-Guinea-Indian child, though a political act, will dissolve the structures that preserve xenophobia unless, maybe, that hot multiracial baby grows up to marry a Weston

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