I'm tired of having you decide what my values should be, and what that should look like, especially when those values embody protectionism, racism, and the devaluing of people of colour.
What does that mean exactly, anyways? What is a Canadian value? Who decides what that looks like? I can tell you this much, I don't identify as a Canadian, and I am surely not proud to call myself one. Do you know why? Because we Canadians are hypocrites.
I hear these words about values tossed around whenever something threatens the insecurities of white folks. There, I said it. And yes, I am white too. And no, I am not painting all white folks with the same brush. Just most of us.
White folks reading this should start asking themselves some tough questions, if they truly embrace values of freedom, respect for diversity, 'multiculturalism,' women's rights, and personal choice.
Again, I ask you - what is a Canadian value? This country is made up of immigrants (colonizers) from all over the world. This piece of land, Turtle Island, which we claim to be ours and now police whoever may enter it and demand that those entering subscribe to Our Way of Life... well, what is this way of life? Who gets to define it?
Is a Canadian someone who likes to watch hockey, hangs out with mostly white friends and family, talks about having 'generations' dating back to prove roots, drinks beer on the weekend, and.... what else? I really don't know what being Canadian means exactly.
Perhaps it means asking someone "Where they are from" whenever their skin isn't as light as yours, and then complementing them on their complexion because it is so hard for you to get a tan and how you wish you had one right now. Oh well, there's always summer.
Perhaps it means asking them "Where they were from before that" when you didn't get the answer you were looking for. Why not just ask someone what their racial make up is? That would be a little more honest.
Perhaps it means telling that person how beautiful they are and that's why you were asking - because anyone that isn't blonde, blue-eyed and light skinned is exotically beautiful.
Perhaps it means feeling defensive when someone challenges you on the reason you are asking that question of someone who doesn't look like you, and then complain that your intentions were good, and how that means you aren't racist.
Perhaps it means that you ask anyone who has an accent different than yours "Where they are from" because surely they are not from here. Exactly when does someone get to claim when they ARE from here? After 2 years? After 5, 10, 15, 20, 45 years? Oh I know, but it sounded so pretty and whimsical, that accent. You just thought it was so lovely you thought you should comment.
Perhaps it means that when you have discussions of race and racism, you claim that you don't even notice race. That you even have friends of colour, and you never noticed it and that you see those friends exactly as you would anyone else. Well, you also just erased the idea that this person is racialized every damn day based on their perceived difference.
Perhaps it means how excited you get when you think about going to 'cheap' (read impoverished) countries such as Mexico to enjoy a leisurely existence while the locals struggle to put food on the table.
Perhaps it means how excited you get when you think about buying up property in that country because it is a real steal of a deal, and never give a thought to the fact that you are stealing land from indigenous folks for your benefit.
Perhaps you never give a thought to the impact of your travels, and claim how you are actually benefitting the local economy by bringing your wealth to local businesses.
Are you feeling Canadian yet?
In the name of Canada, we create policies which make it incredibly difficult for anyone that doesn't come from a white, Western European background to enter our country and perform the skilled labour they are trained to do. In fact, we make it nearly impossible. Then, as Canadians, we complain about how 'those people' (read people of colour) are taking OUR jobs.
Well, I don't see a huge line up of folks willing to give up their education and training to drive cabs in this country, simply so they can be thankful to be a part of a so-called democratic, freedom loving society. I don't see so called Canadians willing to give up their rights and freedoms and ability to have citizenship to perform any kind of labour that will earn enough money to be sent to your family who will never be allowed to stay with you here.
Yes, I recognize that it is hard in this country to find work - and that your MSW or MA or PHd doesn't buy you the cache that it once did and that you are ever threatened with working at Starbucks, and why the fuck did you spend all that money to educate yourself anyways? I get it.
But, please examine how you still hold more privilege than those that are trying to enter this country with skills in hand, who are even denied access to that job at Starbucks to work next to you.
Please examine why it is that you support excluding immigrants from access to skilled labour based on your perception that you have more rights to access work than someone who doesn't share your background. Your privilege. And yes, I get that your parents are immigrants too and came over here with nothing and you know what that struggle is like. You are not a fascist neo-lib/con, and you are simply trying to make ends meet.
Well, ask yourself, why you separate your struggles from those entering the country who are denied access to basic citizenship rights. Ask yourself why it is that you think those people that are denied access are receiving more benefits than you?
Ask yourself why it is that you feel so threatened when Muslim women wish to wear dress that is different than you. Why you have a right to demand that she bare her face to you. What assumptions do you hold about that Muslim woman when she is wearing a niqab? What fears and anxiety do you have when you cannot read the facial expressions of that niqab wearing woman?
Ask yourself how you support the rights, independence, and freedom of women when you strip them of their choice to honour themselves in a way that you do not understand and make bold assumptions about. Ask yourself why you think it is a burden to someone that they are covered up, and how that couldn't possibly represent a choice. Ask yourself why you assumed that it was a choice based in misogyny, and patriarchy and not an expression of selfhood and respect for one's body?
Ask yourself how it is that you should have the god given right to demand that someone strip themselves for you, so that you feel safer.
Then ask yourself again what kind of Canadian values you hold and why.
Better yet, examine the ways that you can work in solidarity with folks who are different than you so that their voices are heard, and their rights are respected.
Start asking yourself some tough questions and then tell me what kind of Canadian you are, and what kind of Canadian you would like to be.