Canadian Black History Month teaches us that Canada is “not racist”.

In Why I am Skipping Black History Month Renee of Womanist Musings writes:

When I was a child, Black history month consisted of the traditional lecture on Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, because heaven forbid we actually admit that as an English colony, Canada had slavery [too].  Many Canadians grow to adulthood and never realize this historical truth.  Because the underground railroad has become such a fixation, it has allowed many to have the false belief, that unlike our American cousins, that we were far to civilized to engage in this great crime against humanity. Instead, we will focus on the fact that Harriet Tubman’s church still stands in St. Catherine’s.  We don’t want to talk about the fact that White Supremacist Canada was hardly welcoming to escaped slaves, or that our Prime Minsters were not fans of people of colour.  Instead, we will wag our fingers and scowl about American founding fathers owning slaves.

Not only do many falsely believe that slavery did not happen in Canada, far too many are unaware that Jim Crow laws existed here as well.  In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested for daring to sit in the White section of a movie house.  She was dragged out of the theater by two men, injuring her knee in the process.  To further shame Desmond, after her arrest, she was held in a male cell block.  Eventually, she was charged with tax evasion because of the difference in price between White seats and Blacks seats.  It was a difference of one cent.  With the help of the NSACCP (The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), Desmond would take her fight to the supreme court of Nova Scotia.  Desmond was a trailblazer and instead of being recognized as such, the Canadian government recently sought to pardon her, as though her arrest was actually a stain on her life, instead of the government itself.

Growing up and attending Canadian schools, I never learned a single word about Desmond and I believe that this was to continue the indoctrination that Canada is a tolerant, racially just society.  I did not learn about the porters strike.  I most certainly did not learn about the destruction of Africville.  As a child, it forced me to look southward to find examples of people of the African diaspora to function as role models, rather than in my own country.  I would continue to live in ignorance, had I not made a great effort to look beyond the lack of education I had been given in schools.

Read the whole thing.

Link: Why I am Skipping Black History Month

City of Edmonton pulls “white privilege” message from its anti-racism website

The controversial Edmonton anti-racism campaign that called on whites to “acknowledge your white privilege” has now removed the prominent references to “white privilege”. Paula Simons reports:

Lewis Cardinal is a member of the Racism-Free Edmonton board, and a member of the board of Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice. He says he can’t understand how the “white privilege” message ended up as the main point of the website. He’d been told McIntosh’s essay would be one of a number of pieces of background material on the site, not its key message.

“I think that it was a huge mistake,” says Cardinal. “I have no idea why they launched it with that sitting on the front page. Obviously, I didn’t approve that. I don’t know how it slipped by, but it definitely didn’t get us off on the right foot.”

“The website,” he says “is going to be changed, right away, absolutely.”

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Québec’s bill to control niqabi women is sexist and ableist.

In Canada, the province of Québec wants to pass Bill 94 to exclude niqabi women from essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care. They hope that this will make niqabi women uncover themselves.

Dana Olwan writes:

Bill 94 is borne out of a masculine logic that projects men as guardians of women’s independence and free will, rendering women dependents in constant need of state protection. As residents and citizens in need of state protection, we are to believe in the magnanimity of the writers and supporters of the bill. We are told that Bill 94 does not target one group or another but that it affirms the secular nature of Quebec in particular and Canada in general. To more readily absorb this historical and political distortion, we are reminded of the tyranny of religion and blinded to the dangers of staunch secularism.

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Québec wants to make niqabi women illegal.

The creeping racism and eroding of civil liberties of Arizona makes me worry about the Quebec Provincial Bill 94 to exclude niqabi women from social services, employment, health, and education.

If you are Canadian and if you are not, you can take action against Bill 94. If you are emailing or writing to a government official, you can make use of the Non/No Bill 94 Coalition Statement.

Update: There is a Sample No Bill 94 Letter to Premiere Jean Charest

Multiculturalism displaces anti-racism, upholds white supremacy.

Dr. Sunera Thobani, of the University of British Columbia, criticizes the discourse of multiculturalism in Canada (transcript):

I think multiculturalism has been a very effective way of silencing anti-racist politics in this country. Multiculturalism has allowed for certain communities—people of colour—to be constructed as cultural communities. Their culture is defined in very Orientalist and colonial ways—as static, they will always be that, they have always been that. And culture has now become the only space from which people of colour can actually have participation in national political life; it’s through this discourse of multiculturalism. And what it has done very successfully is it has displaced an anti-racist discourse.

You know, I teach and I have young students of colour, they come, and they completely bought into this multiculturalism ideology. They have no language to talk about racism. They know that if they talk about racism, they will get attacked.

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