Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    14
  • comments
    12
  • views
    13875

Becoming a Visible Minority

Sign in to follow this  

391 views

It's one of those weird transformations. When my family moved into my current city (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), it was by far dominated by white people. In fact, the Mormon church had big plans to settle families here, so they built a huge temple. It's one of the biggest this side of North America (58,000 sq ft), and you can see Moroni from a mile away. However, that didn't pan out. Instead Brampton became the city of choice for immigrants from India, Pakistan and the Middle East. (Probably a better outcome, as Indian food is so delicious! :p ) In any case, we now we have this massive white Mormon edifice in a sea of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which I find amusing. Similarly, the Jehovah Witnesses that are here have not bothered to go door to door for a long time.

So for a number of years now, as a white person, I have been a visible minority. More recently, South Asians (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) have become the majority. With this I have noticed certain social shifts. There are some communities where, as a white person, I am not welcome. There are certain jobs I cannot easily get. I am occasionally subject to racist remarks as I walk around my neighbourhood. Just today, I was sarcastically asked if I was a crack dealer. It's hardly endemic, but it is very different from how it was when I was growing up here.

Of course, the vast majority of people treat me decently. It's usually only idiotic teenagers egged on by their friends that make these sorts of remarks. In fact, I once held a job in a mall where the only white people were myself and the real estate agent, and I was always treated with respect. It's a very small amount of people that treat me indecently. However, it really makes one pause to think about the much more dramatic racism experienced by other groups throughout history.

This is one of the advantages of living in a diverse and multi-cultural area like this. Not only are you exposed to a variety of cultures, but you get a first-hand (small) taste of what racial injustice is. It helps you better understand why Black people rose up like they did in the 60s, and the dangers and damage of discrimination. It makes you know how it feels to live in a place you don't always recognize, where you are sometimes the outsider, ignorant of customs and frowned upon by some.

I call this an advantage, because with it one realizes the tremendous value of the freedom enjoyed in this country. This is a place where you are free not to be black or white, but to be human. It teaches you that when faced with discrimination and injustice, you need to fight and sacrifice for your dignity. You should demand success in your life, work for it and settle for nothing less. Moreover, you must put the same effort into maintaining and supporting your society, so that it does not devolve into a hegemony where self-actualization is available only to a chosen few.

Sadly, many young people I see do not realize this. They see these problems (minor problems really), and become apathetic. Somehow, they don't realize that it doesn't take tremendous effort in a country as free as Canada to work on these issues. They somehow fail to see that solutions and opportunities stand before them glaringly. I don't fully understand how this veil has been drawn across their vision for the future. Perhaps it's simply that no credible person has told them what's possible?

For example, in my political experience it's exceptionally easy to get the attention of major politicians in this country. I have personally met both formally and informally our Prime Minister, Finance Minister, many other federal ministers, provincial party leaders (on many occasions), and too many MPs and MPPs to count. I have even met one of the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic and Presidents of the European Union. I have ample opportunity to involve myself in forming the policies that define the direction this country will take. The limits to my connections are only my desire and initiative.

How is this possible? I ask to see them. I get involved. I have a party membership, even though I don't agree with everything the party does. But the main point is, I don't really put much effort into doing this. I just make myself known and available, nothing more. For that, I have access to the levers of power in this country. And to be clear, half of the youth in these circles are gay, Asian, Indian and so on, particularly the most influential ones. It most definitely isn't a race issue, but mainly the willingness to be present.

That being said, this same idea of simple availability extends to other areas like business and charity. The truth is, so many young people want nothing to do with the "establishment", but this "establishment" knows it's mortality. They know they need to hand off power to the young eventually, so they are desperate for their involvement. They need to make sure the young understand the power they will wield one day, and all the hidden complexities therein. They need to reach out to the young, because the young are their future too. The young should take the offer, because they will be the establishment one day whether they like it or not.

Still, too many youth here don't seem to realize this. They just don't get involved. Maybe it's because of some stigmata or irrational association they've been taught. Most just keep to themselves, passing the time with studies, Facebook or binge gaming. Others atrophy and entertain themselves by insulting passing strangers. Maybe they think they have nothing to offer, but in truth just being present is tremendously valuable. Somehow they don't seem to notice or value the immense wealth and opportunity that simply living here provides. Too many take it for granted, and it's a damn shame.

It's also dangerous, as it makes for sheep more easily herded.
Sign in to follow this  


3 Comments


Recommended Comments

Usually when they build a temple it isn't because they want people to settle an area, it's because there is a sizable existing population of LDS people (among other things).

Yeah, it's been a while since I have been in Brampton, but I could totally see what you mean about being an ethnic minority. Mind you, as a missionary I found that people really didn't bother us. In Hamilton we covered a part of the city that was pretty ghetto-ish, but we never got any trouble from anyone because the people living there were familiar with the missionaries and knew that they weren't there to cause problems.

I think another reason why young people aren't really involved in politics is that they quite often don't see how their actions can actually be a cause for change. They feel as though an individual vote has no weight and doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but in reality the grand scheme of things is a sum of single votes.

I should probably be a little more proactive in learning more about the current political situation. At least now I'm reading the news - something that I didn't really do a year or two ago.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Well, it is the main Mormon temple for the the entire GTA, so within those millions of people I'm sure there are a great many of their followers. However, my understanding was that the reason it was built in Brampton and not Toronto proper was because they thought, "If we build it, they will come [to Brampton]." Some came, but nothing near what they imagined, as Brampton is less than 2% Mormon from the demographics I've seen. You're talking only maybe a couple thousand amongst almost half a million people.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Quote:
... It makes you know how it feels to live in a place you don't always recognize, where you are sometimes the outsider, ignorant of customs and frowned upon by some.

I call this an advantage, because with it one realizes the tremendous value of the freedom enjoyed in this country.
This is a place where you are free not to be black or white, but to be human. It teaches you that when faced with discrimination and injustice, you need to fight and sacrifice for your dignity. You should demand success in your life, work for it and settle for nothing less. Moreover, you must put the same effort into maintaining and supporting your society, so that it does not devolve into a hegemony where self-actualization is available only to a chosen few.


With all due respect, you're still a million miles away from being or knowing what it feels like to be a black or brown person living in a white country. I know you mean well but so much of your post exudes naivete.

Being a minority in the U.S (and to a lesser degree in Canada I would imagine) is more than being VISIBLY different. For instance, with it comes the knowledge that your group is viewed as inferior culturally, aesthetically, and intellectually (with a caveat if you're Asian, Indian or Pakistani you're potentially viewed as little more than a walking and talking calculator). Feelings of inferiority being projected onto you is just one of many experiences of being a minority you'll never know. An advantage? Unbelievable.





Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now