About race, racism, ethnocentrism…

“Québec veut ouvrir le dialogue sur le racisme systématique…” screamed a headline on the cover page of last weekend’s Metro newspaper.
It’s like a rite of passage for any MNA who holds the Quebec Immigration portfolio. Each one invariably establishes a commission to conduct an inquiry into the reality (or the perception) of systemic racism in the province.
According to the article, the announcement of this latest endeavour “coincides with the appearance of a poster proclaiming
“All these hateful acts are unacceptable in a society…” the minister stated. That’s true. But platitudes are all that; they do not… never scare the perpetrators of “hateful acts…”
[Incidentally, someone reminded me that during her time as the provincial Immigration Minister some years ago, former provincial Liberal MNA Yolande James, the first Black cabinet minister in Quebec history. She is the first Black woman to be elected to the provincial legislature in 2004, commissioned a similar initiative when she held the portfolio of Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities & Minister of Family. She is currently a political commentator on TV and radio.]
There have been similar initiatives over the years, but I for one have never paid much attention, meaning waiting with baited breath for findings and recommendations. In my view, if any practical ones had come out of previous consultations they would’ve been implemented, and no need for a 2017 version of what many are referring to as a “been-there-done-that exercise”).
So, given the current state of blatant and subtle racism, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish sentiment in the province, Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Kathleen Weil unveiled plans for a public consultation on systemic discrimination and racism in Quebec. It gets underway in September. I’m guessing the raison d’être is to gather evidence to determine if there’s truly a real (or perceived) problem of hatred of certain people in the province, as evidenced by recurring manifestations (of same) towards Muslims. And I hasten to add people of Jewish faith (as recent as a couple weeks ago, hateful (-filled) message was scrawled on the vehicle of a person of Jewish faith, and before that a swastika. And yes, Black people are easy and perennial targets.
Given the options, I imagine acts of hate, discrimination… towards the groups mentioned depend on a perpetrators mood at a given moment. It could be this one, that one, or the other…
The thinking of a government of the day seems to flow like this: Have another consultation, allow time to elapse then have another one. Always bearing in mind that the issues will persist because no government has the capacity to – legally or otherwise – eradicate the social cancer.
Fast forward to 2017.
Anyone with an interest in (the revelations and outcome of) this latest consultation will be waiting with baited breath for the findings… a foregone conclusion in my view.
By virtue of our so-called visible minority status and provincial pigeonholing, our response is a given. Come September, what will be new or different to say about systemic racism? What, if anything, will be different about this consultation that will effect substantive and tangible initiatives?
Let the afflicted (with their inculcated hatred of certain peoples who pose no harm to their daily existence and lives) endure a period of purging and cleansing to change their ways.
Which reminds me of a deceased old-timer. He used to say… “Racism is like cancer; you don’t always know you have it.” He experienced and understood systemic racism.
His axiom is always apropos, especially when matters like the forthcoming “Consultation” are in the news.
In the meantime, I will continue along my daily life’s trajectory, all the while prepared for the multiple and various social obstacles, always listening for the next consultation announcement some time down the road into the institutionally engrained culture of racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia in the province.
By the way, isn’t there an archive of electronic and hard copies of documented findings from past consultations to refer to?
Yes, times have changed, but some things remain the same – just sanitized.
In any case, here’s the upshot of this latest consultation: “The objective is to propose concrete and durables solutions…” according to the minister.
Propitious expectations are one thing, outcome, reality and results quite another.
“Consultation on systemic discrimination and racism…”
I hear your resounding, “another one? We’ve heard that before.”
So, how many will any given provincial government authorize before getting to the bottom of lingering social issues and come up with practical and viable solutions.
Like myself, I’m sure most people from the target groups won’t be holding their breath.
“Quebec wants to begin a dialogue…?”
Montreal would be a good departure point. The consultation caravan could then move out into the hinterland where rurality and homogeneity are the norm and diversity is probably an unfamiliar word that has little or no significance. It’s more an urban thing.
Take those people in the “white city” of Saguenay, and those posting anti-immigrant stickers in the city of Sherbrooke, not that far from Montreal. For them, dialoguing on the subject of systemic discrimination and racism is the least of their daily concern.
You know what comes to [my] mind whenever I hear of another consultation of issues of race, ethnicity, etc.? I wish there were First Nations peoples to be arbiters; they, after all, are the ones who welcomed Europeans to this land that’s been celebrated in Montreal this year – 375 years, and across the entire country – 150 years. They should have a say in the situation of those who are perpetually marginalized.
I know, I know… Given the land grab back when a handful of European nations and peoples assumed what they believed to be their Divine and monarchical right and mission to rule the world, what became known as Canada was co-opted when gifts [peace offerings?] were exchanged on Contact. In retrospect, a big mistake, now a moot point. The rest is history. Uncompromisingly, conquerors’ rules prevail.
Centuries on, those who are perceived as outsiders “extraneous peoples” are treated as such. We’re saddled with the burden of colour, ethnicity, religious persuasion, language, along with institutionalized subtle and blatant acts of hate perpetrated by the dominant demographic(s) in that piece of original territory now called Quebec.
So, in order to make us feel like we belong and are valued, we’re again been asked to engage in another futile [venting] exercise about systemic discrimination and racism.
And because when all is said and done nothing will change – based on previous exercises – young people representing the targeted communities in question, and who will be adults eventually, will probably be consulted on the same old issue(s).
Previous generations have endured the recurring (socio-political government commissioned) exercise.
The problems and solutions are in the hearts, minds and hands of the perpetrators… We now await the outcome.