Tuesday, June 17, 2008
ZT left for a two week trip to Suzhou this afternoon. This means several things:
1. I'm free for two weeks -- no apartment cleaning woo woo woo.
2. I don't have a camera, so no Youtube (which is a good thing, I need to review for exams).
3. Yeah, just two.
Below is an e-mail I received the other day:
**** CENSORED [SEE ABOVE POSTING] ****
Firstly, this is terrible and shouldn't be happening in the 21st century. Having said that, here's what I think is causing the issues you encounter in Canada. Please keep in mind that I'm not excusing their behaviour AT ALL. If I'd seen that woman do that to you, she would have had an ear-full from me to say the least.
I think one reason you experience racism in Canada, especially outside cities, is because of the sheer number of "foreigners" there. Like anywhere else, people feel threatened when they see change -- especially change in the demographics of where they live and change they don't understand. Perhaps seeing an occasional Asian in the supermarket doesn't sound threatening, but if that old lady starts seeing an Asian in EVERY store she goes to, I think she is likely to feel a sense of "invasion" if that makes any sense to you. In my conversations with people who I knew were racist in Canada I sort of got that understanding. It was a "they're coming here, changing our culture, being rude, opening restaurants, they're dirty etc., etc.," It was a fear of change and a fear of the unknown. Canada sees 100 000 000 visitors come through every year. Its resident population is only 30 000 000 or so.
This fear of change comes primarily from a misunderstanding, or even no understanding, of other cultures. If that woman had a Chinese friend, or could speak a little Chinese, or could just talk with a Chinese person once in a while, I don't think she would be so xenophobic.
So here's my suggestion. Most people are pretty decent if you can get them into a conversation. Unfortunately, you're probably going to run into this discrimination situation again. So next time, when a lady purposefully bumps into you or is rude, don't get angry (try hard). Say sorry (even though it's not your fault), then say to her something like this: "excuse me, I just got to Canada and I'm having trouble adjusting, can you suggest something good to eat? I don't want to always eat Chinese food." Just try to express your interest in "Canadian" culture (yes, people actually believe there is a Canadian culture. Just express interest in the local customs).
To be honest, I can totally understand if you find it impossible to say the above after a woman is intentionally rude to you. Here in China, I also react with anger if someone is rude; only rarely can I entirely hold back a biting remark if someone tells me my only skill is to speak English (because I'm white and of course whites can't do anything except speak English). But I think you might be suprised at the response you'd get if your first reaction isn't in anger. I can guarantee one thing about people anywhere in the world: if you give anger, you'll receive anger.
So what I think is most important to remember are the following:
1. Not all Canadians are like that. Don't let one fool represent the whole country.
2. Remember you might be dealing with someone who has never left Western culture before. They might not understand your culture, and might therefore fear what you represent (change to their culture).
3. Be positive. No one can make you feel inferior without your own consent. If someone wants to be negative, screw them to bloody hell. It's your day, don't let them ruin it.
4. Most importantly: you have the RIGHT to physical safety. If someone is physically pushy with you and you feel threatened, call a store clerk.
You already have ZT's number, you can call her anytime once she gets back. And you can e-mail me too of course.
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