Raise your hand if you're a marginalized person who has been victimized by the age-old white Canadian proverb "At least we don't have Trump."
Calling this an age-old proverb isn't me sprinkling the truth with a little bit of Maggi/salt/MSG or your seasoning of choice. As far back as the late 1800s when Canada had a state-mandated policy of starving Indigenous folks into reservations and submission, white Canadians still held themselves on a moral platform above America.
Donald Trump's presidency has been traumatizing for people of colour, immigrants, women, LGBTQ+ folks and the poor. White Canadians however, have benefited from yet another American benchmark to measure themselves against. For as long as America has it's well documented, relatively publicized history of slavery, oppression and genocide, Canada thrives. Not only do these smears on American history polish the shine on Canadian morality, it serves as a tool to silence non-white people in Canada. America's disease allows white Canadians to be ignorant.
For every stop and frisk America has, Canada has a Black man carded. For every Black woman and girl missing and silenced in America, Canada has a missing or murdered Indigenous woman. For every Japanese family torn apart by the American government during World War Two, there is a Canadian family in the West with clear memories of a head tax placed on them for being Chinese. For every Indigenous Water Warrior at Standing Rock, there is an Indigenous activist fighting a pipeline in Canada. For every American travel ban, there will be a Canadian immigration prison fighting human rights abuses claims. Canada's history with people of colour is as soiled as America's. But America has always been the louder, more obnoxious cousin that Canada can point out to distract from its own demons.
For as long as Canadians tell us that "at least were not as bad as America", our experiences, our struggles will be de-legitimized. For as long as people of colour are silenced, we will have Truth and Reconciliation reports that are disregarded, activists detained and ignored, and people living in fear. We will forever be expected to react to racism with the quintessential Canadian politeness, or "love and courage" as we're now calling it.
Quietly executing state sponsored systematic oppression while marketing diversity and progressiveness is as Canadian as Tim Hortons, over-apologizing, or saying "eh."
If you consider yourself an ally, depend not on the unethical practices of your friends in the North to clear your conscious. For one, it's irritating -- trust me, we know the world is ending. But the world has been a dangerous place for us way before Trump showed up, and it will continue to be dangerous for as long as we aren't allowed to be critical of Canada and Canada's Top Model Trudeau.
Sharon is a freelance writer, event planner and lover of all things African History. Sharon is a Feminist, Anti-Racist, Anti-Misogynistic, Anti-Homophobic, Anti-Transmisognistic and Aunty to Tyvus and Neavah. Sharon lives in Canada and is constantly trying to navigate the world with fierce pride for her people, but with no fear whatsoever, of critiquing those very same people. Sharon also realizes she has written all this in third person and feels a little strange about it.
Photo: Obert Madondo/Flickr
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