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“Where’d You Get Your Tan?” – International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination


In the four months I’ve been writing this blog, I have felt the most hopeful I ever have for society. Weekly, the Black in the Maritimes team and I interview people or discuss people who are trying to better the world. That being said, for each positive person and article making waves there is a racist trying to stop this progress. While this week in New Brunswick a commissioner was appointed to look into systemic racism, a Nazi punched a person in a wheelchair at an anti-hate rally in Calgary and I was asked to my face where I got my tan. This is happening in the same country, in the same week. So how much closer are we to ending race based discrimination?

It truly feels that no matter how close we get to reconciling some of the hurt created by racial discrimination and systemic racism new problems arise keeping us just as far from resolution. Of course racism continues to happen daily to visible minorities. Just recently someone tried to argue in the Instagram comments of one of our posts that black history, specifically Canadian black history, was being widely taught across Canada but was less pertinent to Canadians than the history I was taught (about Russian Czars and Louis XIV). While slightly surprising, there’s always going to be close minded people so this rhetoric is not shocking. Racism will always exist as long as all people are given platforms to speak on.

Dismantling systemic racism needs to start with the people in positions of power. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to exonerate men with weed charges despite cannabis now being legal. Premier Blaine Higgs has appointed this commissioner to investigate systemic racism in NB politics yet he was against this for the past several months while people have been asking for this to be done. When POCs have to beg for their voices to be heard and for justice then they know they are not wanted or valued. As we’ve explored on our podcast, the way we treat immigrants is sub-par as well yet our system to get these immigrants to come to Canada serves our country greatly. We get the elites of other countries to migrate here and then do not have jobs to offer them in their skill set, then Canadian’s engage in the rhetoric that they come here “to take our jobs” when they can’t even apply for them. This is blatant discrimination.

The racial discrimination in Canadian politics also permeates how Black History is taught at school (mainly American history only taught in Black History Month). As I’ve stated on the podcast numerous times, I was never taught who Viola Desmond was. Until recently I had no idea Canada had slaves. I was under the impression the Underground Railroad meant Canada was a safe haven for Black people. That we were the “good guys” and we were not. This erasure of accurate history contributes to the general discrimination of POCs. If no one is properly educated how can anyone talk seriously about the issues at hand and reconcile them.

One of the bigger issues I have in terms of discrimination, are the unconscious biases that happen daily that contribute to the general ignorance and discrimination toward visible minorities and BIPOC people. This week an older gentleman I was serving at work asked me where I got my tan. This was after making several un-funny COVID related jokes. Now, because of the age difference I let it slide and I’m assuming he’s too far gone to teach new manners, but asking me where I got my tan, asking where my father is from and then saying to “congratulate him” (for what? Being Black?) is insulting and problematic on many levels. While I am proud to be half-Senegalese and half-Acadian I was born here, on Canadian soil. I am a Canadian woman. Asking me where I got my tan is so incredibly rude and unnecessary. No one needs to know where my father is from. My Blackness is not my only identifier and I am so tired of having these conversations over and over. Also, while we’re on the subject, do not come to me this summer and say you’re almost as dark as I am.

All of these micro aggressions and extra hurdles People of Colour have to face contribute to why we are no closer to eliminating race based discrimination. We are fighting for rights politically, asking to be heard on a federal level while simultaneously having to remind our neighbours the proper ways to speak to and about us. There are many people who are good allies and people who have wonderful intentions. Those people do not go unnoticed. But for every article about a successful Black business, there is one about another business being vandalized. For every comment agreeing with our views on the podcast there’s someone lurking in the comments waiting to type “All Lives Matter”. For all of the good there is in the world there are still people killing others because of race-based hate, and there are people sympathizing with those white murderers. How close are we to the end of racial discrimination? Some days it feels like no closer than Martin Luther King Jr. was. Other days it feels like we can almost taste it.

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