Racism And Discrimination Is A Learned Behaviour Which Can Have A Devastating Effect On Kids

Jenny-KWAN-RACISM2

Desibuzzbc-Banner-Metrics-FinalI still remember how I was mocked by others when I was a little girl. Kids ran up to me and pulled up the corners of their eyes to make a slant and shouted chink, chink!  I also recall the times when they purposefully spoke in an incoherent manner to mimic the way they think a Chinese person spoke.  While one might be inclined to laugh it off as childish behaviour; these kinds of stereotyping are acts of racism and discrimination.  And let us be clear, racism and discrimination is a learned behaviour and it can start at an early ago.Over the years, we have worked hard to stamp out racism and discrimination.  While we have made progress, we have also regressed.  In fact, we are seeing a rise in the spread of fear and hate.  Statistics Canada reports an increase in hate crimes from 2014 to 2015. Just south of the border, we have a president who is working hard to normalize racism and religious discrimination.

By Jenny Kwan – MP

I still remember how I was mocked by others when I was a little girl. Kids ran up to me and pulled up the corners of their eyes to make a slant and shouted chink, chink!  I also recall the times when they purposefully spoke in an incoherent manner to mimic the way they think a Chinese person spoke.  While one might be inclined to laugh it off as childish behaviour; these kinds of stereotyping are acts of racism and discrimination.  And let us be clear, racism and discrimination is a learned behaviour and it can start at an early ago.

Over the years, we have worked hard to stamp out racism and discrimination.  While we have made progress, we have also regressed.  In fact, we are seeing a rise in the spread of fear and hate.  Statistics Canada reports an increase in hate crimes from 2014 to 2015. Just south of the border, we have a president who is working hard to normalize racism and religious discrimination.

Jenny-Kwan-racismThis March I attended a rally in Vancouver on the International Day Against Racial Discrimination. This rally was attacked and disrupted by a white supremacist group. Their intention was clear: to intimidate those who had assembled and to disrupt the important discussions our society needs to have about racism and discrimination that continues to exist today. Thankfully, we persevered. An anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rally was held at City Hall in Vancouver in August. While I found it incredibly heartening that these hate groups were vastly outnumbered by a peaceful counter-protest, I cannot help but worry and feel the need to continue to speak up at this rise and normalization of hate.

More and more, people feel emboldened to be overtly racist.  Of course, the politics of fear and hate can spread like wildfire and Canada is not immune to it.  We too have witness an increase in racism and discrimination.  This can be displayed in a variety of ways, from racial slurs to violent attacks.  We can even see it in the form of games.

In fact, a Canadian-based electronic gaming company has produced a video game based on racial stereotypes.  They call it satire.  I call it racist.  This kind of demeaning representation and stereotyping of any community in is not only appalling, I fear the ignorance displayed through this type of racial stereotypes will teach our younger generation that racism is just fun and games.  After all, racism is a learned behaviour.

2017 is Canada's 150 birthday.  Have we learned nothing from history?  Generations of Indigenous people are still suffering from Canada's racism and discriminatory colonial past.  As we celebrate Canada 150 this year, let us not forget the history of discrimination faced by Chinese-Canadians here in British Columbia. British Columbia was able to join Confederation through the labour and sacrifices made by Chinese railway workers who helped complete the most treacherous sections of the railway.  Despite this, the Chinese-Canadian community has historically suffered discrimination in the form of exclusion from immigration through the Head Tax, being excluded from being able to vote, and by acts of violence such as the Anti-Asiatic Riots. It is deeply disappointing that today in 2017, on the 150th anniversary of Canada; the community is once again a target of discrimination and hate. 

I will never stop speaking out against racism and discrimination. Canada’s strength comes from its multicultural mosaic that brings together an incredibly diverse group of people from all walks of life. But we cannot rest on our laurels; especially at this point where Canada is going against the trend. We must all work hard to keep Canada on this path. Let's all rise up and stand united to condemn this game and all forms of discrimination.

Jenny Kwan is a Member of Parliament from Vancouver. She is also the NDP Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Critic and Multiculturalism Critic.

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