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Racism Today

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     Racism is one of the world’s major issues today. Many people are not aware of how much racism still exists in our schools workforces, and anywhere else where social lives are occurring. It is obvious that racism is bad as it was many decades ago but it sure has not gone away. Racism very much exists and it is about time that people need to start thinking about the instigations and solutions to this matter. Many people believe that it depends on if a person was brought into the world as a racist or not but that is not the case at all. In fact, an individual cannot be born a racist but only learn to become one as they grow from child to adulthood. Basic causes, mainstream, institutions, government, anti racism groups, and even some hidden events in Canada’s past are a few of the possible instigations and solutions to racism.

     To begin with, frustration is a very common cause of racism. If one is having some sort of a social problem, they tend to get very angry with people who are not even concerned with their situation. For instance, when a person is having a tough time economically, they find it easy to blame immigrants for taking away their jobs or creating fewer opportunities (Abanes 1992,12-15). This type of an analysis is very easy to make but when one makes this assumption, it usually leads to hate towards any minority group. The psychological factor is also common disturbance that is found as the root of racism. People with tough childhood may sometimes produce anger and hate towards others (Hayes 1995, 4-5). This kind of person is inclined to dominate others as these qualities attract to racism because of the way racism divides the world into superior and inferior. In these types of situations, one can only picture of what might go through the heads of such individuals. However, in some cases aggravation is only created by the mental thought. Change is a particular device that people cannot handle at all times. People are more comfortable around the recognizable and they find it hard to adapt to a culture that they are not familiar being with. Since 1987, Chinese have been settling in Vancouver, as the suburb of Richmond went from one in twenty to one in three of its residents being Chinese, in two decades. This rapid change was not acceptable for many people who moved out for that very reason so they can live in a “white town” again (Rupet 1996,13-15). On the other hand, one does not have to be a racist to increase the racism around them. For example, silence does not necessarily mean it can prevent racism but it may actually provoke it. Studies show that people are reluctant to speak out towards their friends or family who like to express their racist views. The report shows that such silence encourages the racists from voicing their opinion to direct violence (Rupet 1996,16). Most causes just are all based on or created by some sort of stereotype, which clearly develops discrimination. Many blacks may find that they have limits set around them when they are stereotyped as “good athletes and musicians”(Hayes 1995,27). This makes it very difficult for blacks to be taken seriously in any other fields of goals. It is quite evident that frustration is the root of all these common causes of racism and such annoyance is only produced by a vulnerable mind of an individual who is confused because of the troubles they are experiencing.

     Furthermore, the mainstream is one of the most powerful impacts on racism. When extremists such as “skinheads”(white racists with clean shaved scalps) create violence or bombings, usually the derivation is the mild intolerance of some mainstream thoughts. When politicians and radio talk show hosts complain about a minority group or immigrants, there is a huge population of people out there who are nodding their heads in agreement. Toronto’s own Ernst Zundel believes that the Holocaust never happened and that it is all a Jewish conspiracy. This man is known for his views and is said to be a very powerful influence in Canada among those who promote racial hatred (Lethbridge 1997,3). Racist groups look up to these types of individuals as spokespeople who are expressing these revolting views publicly and are reaching out to many people who are dealing with stress. People believe extremists just recruit their children or other family members to join their group, but that is far from the truth. When recruiting, extremists such as the “Wolfgange Dreoge” target the younger audience on the Youth Street. Providing them with food, clothing, an area to stay, just brings them closer to the group. Once there in the group, they are prepared for the “racial holy war” against blacks, Jews, and Asians who they believe are responsible for their misfortunes (Randall 1994,9). Most groups are becoming more sophisticated, as they are sugar coating their hate messages so their views can make their way into the political agenda. In 1995, Canada’s reform party immigration critic spoke about the links between violent crime and immigrants, while the U.S. representative, accused immigrants of “murdering our children” (Whitton 1998,30). However the mainstream is not only being used by racist groups, but by anti-racism groups as well. There are many groups such as the Anti-racist action (ARA) who use violence to achieve their goals. The ARA trashed the home of spokesperson Gary Schipper, in June of 1993. In 1995, an arsonist set fire to the home of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel (Hayes 1995,41-43). Aside from targeting the people and firms they consider being racist, this type of violence serves the purpose of publicity. The media cannot ignore these activities, and in giving them news coverage, it widely publicizes the views of these responsible groups. Clearly, the mainstream or the media can be used for both for and against racism but it is palpable that extremists have more advantage on the media than the anti racism groups do. When racist groups voice their negative opinions in public, the media will be all over it, but if it is a anti-racism group that is talking about solutions to prevent racism, it is very rare that one will hear about it on the radio or read about it in the paper.

     Finally, the most multifarious cause of racism in Canada is our institutions. The criminal justice system is not consistent enough and studies show a lot of discrimination occurring in our prisons and courts. In many cases, it is the people who protect our rights who commit injustices. The report of the “Commission on Systemic Racism” in the Ontario criminal justice system says it is the police, judges, and lawyers, who are largely responsible for the lack of confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system. It is these people who make decisions based on assumptions and stereotypes. The report also says blacks are much less likely than whites to be granted bail under similar circumstances. Blacks are 27 times more likely to be imprisoned before their trials on charges of drug trafficking and about 20 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated for drug possession charges (Buford 1996,1). It seems that the police is stopping black males more often than whites. Police has released more whites than blacks after being charged under similar circumstances (Johnson 1999,1). Blacks are more likely to be denied pretrial bail. The educational system is also a big portion of the instigation of racism. Many say blacks have been unfairly stereotyped and put into lower academic levels by teachers who have low expectations of their scholastic abilities (Whitton 1998,19). Some say, that ignoring black history and achievement leaves black students without a sense of identity and self esteem. In 1994, Toronto Board of Education study confirmed that black and Portuguese students are disproportionately represented into the lower academic levels. The Royal commission stated there is a “crisis in black education” in Ontario (Johnson 1999,1). The contributions of Natives, blacks, and Asians to Canada’s development have been ignored routinely in the past. Most historians have not given their race bias a second thought. Most of them have come from European tradition and it simply never occurred to them to try to view history from a different racial or cultural perspective (Abanes 1992,7-10). An obvious solution to all these problems in our institutions is the government. The government does not only have to play the role of preventing the situation of our institutions but also try to minimize racism by other activities. The Quebec Human Rights Commission was concerned with groups such as the Klu Klux Klan becoming more wide spread, so they wanted to amend the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms to read anything that would appropriately protect minorities (Hayes 1995,22-23). Other provinces such as British Columbia and Saskatchewan had similar clauses in their civil rights legislation. The government can also appoint commissions to investigate specific areas such as the Ontario Government’s commission on Systemic Racism in the criminal justice system. Education is the key to changing lopsided attitudes in the general public too. It is best that it starts in our schools. The Nova Scotia government spent a million dollars in 1995 to establish programs to try to end systemic racism that it admitted had prevented many blacks from receiving a proper education (Demsey 1992,20). Including courses like black history would help make a big step towards minimizing racism. Discrimination has led to under representation in the workforce. Many people would agree that this is not healthy for a multi-racial society. To redress workforce imbalances, governments use affirmative action. If two people with equal qualifications were applying for a job, then the person from the minority would receive the job. Many individuals argue that this is reverse discrimination. A big problem is that companies may have to hire less qualified members of minority groups to meet the quotas. This means that affirmative action does not eliminate stereotypes and in some cases, it may even make it worse.

      If students also learn about the problems immigrants faced in the early 1900’s, they would respect them more. Around 1917, Chinese immigrants were forced to pay a head tax of 500 dollars. In 1923, a law was passed which banned any further Chinese immigration, as the exclusion law was repealed in 1947. The Chinese were denied the rights that all other immigrants enjoyed simply because they were Chinese (Demsey 1992,5-8). However, East Indians were also suffering the official racism of Canadian governments. In 1914, a businessman Gurdit Singh loaded up a Japanese ship with 376 Indian passengers and headed towards Canada. When the ship arrived, everyone on board was vaccinated and then they sailed for Vancouver. There, the harbor was lined up with angry citizens who were concerned there would be a flood of East Indian immigrants. For two months, the ship sat in Vancouver, carrying hungry and scared passengers and the ship was eventually sent back (Rupet 1996,19-21). These groups suffered because of laws enacted against them but no group suffered as much as the aboriginal people did. In 1876, Canadian governments set goals to make the whole race disappear. Blacks had to go to all black schools, they were banned from many hotels, and churches made them sit in a back gallery called “nigger heaven”. Edmonton banned blacks from swimming pools; public parks and Victoria banned them from good seats in movie theatres (Lethbridge 1997,1). If people learn about these events when they are young, they might grow up with more respect toward other racial or cultural groups.

In conclusion, racism is not an ability that people are born with but it is based on how an individual is raised and what they learn when they are younger. There are many solutions in the world to prevent racism. However, this does not mean that such attempts would put and end to racism because racism will always exist as long as we live. But what the government and institutions and rest of the public can do is help minimize racism. It is a shame that many people feel such hate towards a group but maybe if they try to deal with the change and personal frustrations maturely, they can be able to get more comfortable around the minority groups. People are people and if one can be broader minded, and does not base other individuals on their skin color and accept them for who they are, it would be a significant step towards minimizing racism.

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