Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Archive for June, 2020

History is a learning experience

Thanks to my wonderful Chinese-Canadian first cousins, I have learned much about Chinese-Canadian culture and history – which is also mine.

It has only been since the end of the Second World War that our ancesters, originally from across the sea, were able to become Canadian citizens in a country where many of them were born. And some had even fought in one or two World Wars as part of the Canadian military.

Lately, apparently because the Covid 19 pandemic originated in China, their children and grandchildren are once again the targets of racial bigotry on the streets of Vancouver. It is heartbreaking to learn that some of my kind, gentle, and sometimes brilliant, cousins may themselves be judged because of their racial profiles. My own Dutch and English DNA has left me with predominatly White facial features. I cannot imagine being looked down upon as being racially inferior to anyone. I am one of the lucky ones.

I believe our social history- good and bad- should serve as a record of what to do and what not to do. All the nasty stuff needs to be piled up out there like a farmer’s manure pile. And it needs to be carefully examined. Injustices need to be acknowledged and compensated or, at the very least, apologies need be voiced. We cannot change the past but we should not minimize the horrors or neglect that have occurred.

Racism is what people in a minority group, such as our First Nations people, have experienced and what they can relate to. Their emotional content is not something that we, a bs part of the larger group, can understand. If we have never been personally racist, I don’t think we should feel guilty. It was not our fault to begin with.

The blame is in the system. I suppose that is why it is referred to as “systemic rasicm”. The British-run colonial government created the “Indian Act” and First Nations people were herded into a separate category from the rest of us. It may not have been entirely racist to begin with. The British had a tendency to herd their own citizens into groups. Many of their “upper crust” children, including my grandmother, were encased in boarding schools.

When all is said and done, though, I hope we honour the differences in our cultures and races. We don’t need to blend in and become bland. I enjoy and respect our indigenous cultures – it is exciting for me to hear the drumming, the singing and watch the dancing. I wouldn’t want that to change.

But we must remember that the blame and the shame belong to the past. Eventually we need to move on. Time passes and in the scheme of things, life is short.


Those with severe mental/emotional disorders can relate to an opression similar to that of racism. Bullying by authority and others has always been rampant toward the mentally ill and those in the throes of drugs and alcohol addiction. I recall seeing a drunken indigenous person being thrown into a paddy wagon years ago. The door was slammed against the poor guy’s leg and there was no sympathy expressed by the officers. I remember cringing but actions by those in authority was never questioned in those days.

In the early nineteen eighties my son who was hallucinating on the streets of Toronto was taken down by police who launghed as they ground his face into the sidewalk.

The lower nature displayed by some humans reminds me of young turkeys towards those that fall or are sick. Bullying has to do with survival of the biggest and strongest of the species.The human world should be long past that stage of existence.

One policeman who had taken the new “sensitivity” program developed for police officers said he was pleased that it was available. The program helped police distinguish between erratic gestures displayed by mentally incompetent and those exhibiting genuine criminal behaviour. But, as the officer pointed out, the intense RCMP defensive training in Regina for recruits, would most likely cut in when faced with the necessity for an instant reaction toward perceived life or death situations.

I like the idea of trained and empathetic mental health professionals working in the field together with law enforcement officers.

One thing I do not understand is our sublime acceptance of groups advocating obscene and dangerous racist attitudes. There is no excuse for allowing the Neo-Nazi and Klu Klux Klan groups to exist, after so much horror and bloodshed has been documented regarding the history behind these groups. It has been noted that their mandate can inspire dangerous psycological imbalances just by their very existence; particularly among young not-quite-developed minds. Many years ago Oprah Winfry took a chance by inviting KKK members to be on her show. The show went quite well and it appeared that these fellows had an attitude change. But the horrible aftermath was that Oprah received a huge number of calls – from young men who inquired how they could join the KKK organization!

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