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.