"It's just a party."
That's the excuse being used to dismiss the actions of Queen's University students who recently hosted a costume party featuring racially stereotypically outfits.
Photos from the party -- with students dressed as everything from Buddhist monks to Viet Cong guerrillas to Middle Eastern sheiks -- were shared on social media and have since garnered mainstream attention.
What concerns me, maybe even more than the party itself, is the collective shrug of friends and colleagues when faced with the images.
"It's just a party. They're having fun. They're not trying to offend anyone."
But what if these students learned that, because of their costumes, their educational standing is at jeopardy? Or, if they do graduate, job prospects would be few and their income significantly reduced.
Doesn't sound like much fun, does it?
That's exactly what would take place if the mostly white students at the party couldn't take the costumes off. If, instead, they lived the realities that racialized Canadians face every day.
To start, their schooling would become a lot tougher. Queen's University, after all, is a pretty white school. We're talking about the place that recently cast a white person to play Othello, one of the few Black roles in traditional theatre. Racialized students are quick to remind you how that can manifest in bullying, stereotyping and assault on campus.
Yet if they do graduate, despite a worse student experience, a large body of Canadian research shows that visible minorities face substantial labour market disparities.
They wouldn't, for instance, be called into interviews as job applications with ethnic-sounding names or foreign work experience are more likely to be overlooked.
Don't think they could wait the problem out either. Employment discrimination persists for second and third-generation immigrants -- those who speak fluent English, have always lived in Canada and come with the same postsecondary education as white workers.
But, of course, the students at Queen's University don't have to worry about these issues.
They don't have to worry about being teased or attacked on campus, rejected by interviewers or paid less. They get to skip the histories and lived experiences of cultural minorities because the identity they wore to get drunk and party was only a costume.
And you get to take costumes off, without ever accepting or even acknowledging real world struggles of their classmates and community.
But hey, at least they had fun.
Kevin Hurren is a Toronto writer working in the Premier's office. A recent graduate from Western University, Kevin's years of experience with campus journalism and student politics inform his approach to current issues. Follow or message him on Twitter: @KevinHurren.
Like this article? Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.
Thank you for reading this story...
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.
If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.
We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.