Without the second line, it was even more incomprehensible to me, and I was trying to figure out what it was supposed to mean. Is the white lady a Canadian of White South African descent, who, when encountering injustice, cries, “You’re discriminating against me because I’m African Canadian!”?
The second line disambiguates the meaning of “I am African Canadian when I’m encountering injustice,” but the statement still does not make that much sense. Ethnicity is not something that can be turned on and off when convenient. If this poster is supposed to be about race, race cannot be turned on and off, either. It is not the case that ethnic or racial minorities can bypass discrimination if they only identified as “White Canadian” when encountering injustice.
The bus shelter advertisement is for centrefordiversity.ca, which explains its vision on its website:
At the Canadian Centre for Diversity, we have a vision: A Canadian society without prejudice and discrimination. A society that celebrates diversity, difference, and inclusion.
It seems quite odd to me that a centre that celebrates diversity has created an advertisement that appeals to White Canadians specifically. As a Canadian of colour, I find something offensive about ethnic appropriation to prove a point. I do not think that White Canadians can understand what it is like to be a Canadian of colour by simply trying to imagine it. Temporarily identifying as an ethnicity that is not yours does not make you understand better.
Another thing that bothers me about this poster is that it seems like they just took the American concept of “African American” and Canadianized it as “African Canadian”. If this is actually what happened, then it’s so ironic that it’s not funny, coming from the Canadian Centre for Diversity. I am not black, but I will just quote something from Wikipedia which confirms my understanding of Canadian ethnic identity:
Unlike in the United States, where African American is now one of several generally accepted terms, Blacks of Caribbean origin in Canada largely reject the term African Canadian as an elision of their Caribbean heritage.
Many Canadians of Afro-Caribbean origin strongly object to the term “African Canadian”, as it obscures their own culture and history, and this partially accounts for the term’s less prevalent use in Canada, compared to the consensus “African American” south of the border.
“Black Canadian” is also the name of one of the twelve visible minority groups defined by Statistics Canada.
Perhaps by “African Canadian”, the Canadian Centre for Diversity really meant to distinguish African Canadians from Canadians of Caribbean descent, but this would make the poster even more enigmatic, as it is unclear why a White Canadian would identify as “African Canadian” specifically versus “Black Canadian” in general when she encounters injustice. (On the other hand, if the poster did mean, “I am Black Canadian when I’m encountering injustice,” it is still unclear why this group is singled out, unless we assume that black people symbolize victimization.)
Am I the only one who thinks that this poster is inappropriate and racially insensitive? I am concerned about racial prejudice and discrimination in Canada, but just the poster makes me want to stay clear from this organization.