Header credit: Shane Vincent/BJP
WAS there ever a time in history when the United States — the Land of the Free — was actually a safe place for people of color and for minorities? The US is an interesting anomaly to study among all other nations in that — on the one hand, it is a glorified sanctuary for all of the world’s refugees and on the other, it is nothing but a manufactured prison that has radically redefined what class and social acceptability is. It has redefined the entire world. And had the civil rights era during the 1960s never happened, things could be a lot worse for much more people than they are right now… This argument is not only naïve for its reductionism, considering that social progress will obviously never stop but it is also very important to consider — daily — the consequences of what occurred 50 years ago so we can all continue the struggle which is still there in front of us.
I only know about as much as every other white person from Canada does: Not that much. I don’t know what it’s like but I do feel like something has to change very soon because this isn’t right. I’m not an expert on this topic, but as any outspoken liberal would, I must put my two cents in too. What I see the news is shocking. Endless videos of the police targeting black men and other visual minorities. Murder after unjustified murder. It has been indiscriminately splattered all over social media as a pro-cop dilemma, without any good perspective of what is happening to the victims themselves. The Black Lives Matters (BLM) movement in North America got its spark in 2016 from the ongoing blatant disregard for human life and from the complex racial manipulation of civil laws that enabled this to transpire. In all major cities of Canada, the same issue with the police and minorities is just as bad as in the US.
The lower population densities in Canadian cities make it easier to appear to be less of a problem area for racism but on a per capita basis, the attitudes of the people are the same. Americans did have a civil war over slavery and legitimately think that they should bear arms to protect themselves and their property. But who is it that the American people are protecting themselves from? The corrupted government or their fellow citizens?
Canada doesn’t seem to have this kind of racial issue… But it definitely does. We’re a big multicultural country, with the most diverse population on the planet; we often pride ourselves on the fact that we don’t have this white cop shooting black men problem like the US does. But we do. Just a much smaller scale. And hey, it’s not like American cops are intentionally being racist either. I think they have a difficult job to do and I think that they are just really stressed out when they know anyone can have a weapon on them. Canada doesn’t put up videos of cops shooting colored men and youth; we never see the shooting of our children and our grand-children plastered all over the news and YouTube. These people are our friends and when that goes public — that obviously stirs up emotions like anger and doubt. Canadians would be very different if they were shown, for example: Black and Aboriginal men being shot on TV, day-in, and day-out.
There’s no doubt in my mind how that may infuriate and mess with someone’s head. It must be tough! Let’s face a fact here: White men in America have been taped walking around with machine guns in public places and then a black man gets pulled over for a traffic violation — then gets shot four times by the police because he reached for his license in his pocket… There’s obviously a dangerous stereotype that’s still imposed by some law enforcement officials — that has to be changed at a local level. What is different now, in 2016, is: The very short period in-between these last few shootings was just too much to bear — emotionally. People were bound to crack eventually. The reactions are intense and defensive. Minorities are still afraid. Nothing’s changed since the 70’s. One side is blaming the other and it’s kind of sad that race itself is still such a controversial issue. America is the living definition of Einsteins Insanity right now: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
America has a problem within its police force, and although it is a problem that disproportionately affects black people, it’s not just a black problem. This is an American problem. With police shootings, it shouldn’t have to work that way. For instance, if you’re pro-Black Lives Matter, you’re assumed to be anti-police, and if you’re pro-police, then you surely hate black people. It seems like it’s pro-cop and anti-black, or pro-black and anti-cop, when in reality, you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be. It should be what we’re aiming for.
— July 8, 2016: Trevor Noah: ‘You Can Be Pro-Cop and Pro-Black’
This is pretty much the same issue with the economy… You are automatically assumed to be anti-capitalist once you have a few pro-socialist ideas in your head. In any case, people are still taking sides here. And no one should be taking sides. Except if you’re supporting the oppressed. They feel as if they need to in order to be part of a group… This is totally a societal problem. Everyone’s a victim in this system, even those stressed-out cops, who most of the time have to deal with belligerent citizens who are threatening them. Race aside. White people have to stand up for everybody else to ensure that the privilege and calm that we enjoy is made available universally. Every single person deserves to be privileged. Not just one race. It’s disgusting that that is happening even today. But me saying all of this not good enough, is it? If we really want to keep this Politically Correct (PC). It’s not enough to be pro-human. Obviously, blacks and aboriginals are being subjected in North America, that’s clear. It’s really tough to say.
I think the true issue at hand is that Western people have an issue with race. Plain and simple as that. Depending on what country you’re from; which channels you watch; which websites you visit; which celebrities you follow; which church, synagogue, mosque, or temple you pray at; you get an obstructed view of reality. Things are not what they are in the movies or on internet videos. The US, being the absolute center for entertainment should be the most progressive place when it comes to racial issues, it is the most liberal and democratic country and the most ignorant and aggressive at this time. How complex. Maybe the people who are controlling the companies in the US, which print the news, are deliberately printing racist material because they are themselves, racist people? I mean, who knows, that’s just one guess.
I think everyone has to really step up their game these days, especially with the rise of neoconservative Donald Trump. We should really start looking at people in a more human kind way and not at their race. A couple more things I hope we should be able to agree on: Black people in the US and in Canada still do not trust the police.
Q: Have you informed the police? Have you asked for any kind of protection?
A: That would suggest that I believe that the police could protect me and that they were invested in my protection. I don’t believe that.
Q: Are you afraid for your life?
A: The reality for black people now, in this moment in time in the world, is: whether you fight or not, you die anyway. So I’m going to fight. I think that fear is always a part of change, and I think fear is what makes people resist change, and I think we have to confront that fear head-on.“
And Indigenous racial discrimination is also a really big problem.
While admissions of white adults to Canadian prisons declined through the last decade, Indigenous incarceration rates were surging: Up 112 per cent for women. Already, 36 per cent of the women and 25 per cent of men sentenced to provincial and territorial custody in Canada are Indigenous—a group that makes up just four per cent of the national population. Add in federal prisons, and Indigenous inmates account for 22.8 per cent of the total incarcerated population.
In the U.S., the go-to example for the asymmetric jailing of minority populations, black men are six times more likely to be imprisoned than white men.
In Canada, the Indigenous incarceration rate is 10 times higher than the non-Indigenous population—higher even than South Africa at the height of apartheid. In Saskatchewan, if you’re Indigenous, you’re 33 times more likely to be incarcerated, according to a 1999 report, the most recent available.
This helps explain why prison guard is among the fastest-growing public sector occupations on the Prairies. And why criminologists have begun quietly referring to Canada’s prisons and jails as the country’s “new residential schools.”
–Feb 18, 2016: Canada’s prisons are the ‘new residential schools’
We all have racial issues. What about the Aboriginals? Do they matter too? What about people from third world countries, who aren’t from your country? Do they matter? With all the Indigenous populations (First Nations, and the Native Americans) how can Canadians and Americans continue to ignore racial segregation in our countries? The youth of the world — but North Americans especially — have to finally come to terms with what the police are there to do. Give them some respect and do what you’re told. How about we all take a quick trip down to Mexico and re-evaluate our perception of what real “corruption” is.