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Old 10-11-2014, 05:02 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,946 posts, read 27,348,673 times
Reputation: 8603

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
Just out of curiosity Acajack, when did you start to realize that racism is an actual issue in Canada? I must say that you are one of the few on this forum that truly "gets it" and have always appreciated your honesty. I figured you being a francophone who spent much of your life in English speaking Canada helped you appreciate this a little easier than others.

.

Growing up in English Canada, I always knew it was an issue in Quebec (or French Canada if you prefer) because any racist incidents there (here) always get played up in the anglophoen media. I generally had the mindset that English Canadians were more tolerant, even though as French Canadians living in an anglo setting, we certainly had a number of experiences of what you might call racism against us. But I basically shrugged it all off.

I only started to notice that the anglo part of the country wasn't necessarily better than anyone else when I moved to Quebec, and also when I started travelling, particularly to the U.S.

I certainly did not move to Quebec in order to get away from Anglo-Canadian intolerance. If anything given what I had heard about Quebec I was slightly apprehensive about that part of the move. Not that I feared racism against me, but that there would be much more ambient racism that would make me feel uncomfortable. In the end I was pleasantly surprised on this front.

My primary reason for moving to Quebec was to seek a more unique, authentic and satisfying cultural milieu.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:02 PM
 
Location: Colorado
1,524 posts, read 2,263,375 times
Reputation: 2168
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
Just out of curiosity Acajack, when did you start to realize that racism is an actual issue in Canada? I must say that you are one of the few on this forum that truly "gets it" and have always appreciated your honesty. I figured you being a francophone who spent much of your life in English speaking Canada helped you appreciate this a little easier than others.
I just also wanted to say that Acajack "gets it" and contributes excellent conversation to our threads (In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about the historical development of Canada). Hats off to you Acajack!

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
I do agree that English Canada on balance is not extremely racist in a global sense. I would say both Canada and the US tend to do better than many nations when it comes to racism.
Agreed. And Edward I have been reading many of your race-related Canadian threads, and really appreciate the points you make and must confess that I really enjoy your conversation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
With that said, it does not mean it is not a problem that needs to be addressed and I think the sore point for most people of color in Canada is the outright denial that racism even exists and the condescending way white Canadians tend to deal with the subject or race is general.
I couldn't agree more. The outright denial of the existence of racism in Canada is what gets my goat. I call it 1940's style racism because back in the day people pretended that all was well and denied that there was a problem to be fixed. The "status quo" so to speak. Anyways, to me coming from the northeastern US eastern Canada appeared to me as an extremely "White" country, due to the fact that almost all blacks are immigrants and make up a small single digit percentage of the populace (compared to the 30% I am accustomed to in Maryland, and the other high numbers in places like Philadelphia, New Jersey, etc). For example, you will never see a black farmer in Canada (and if so it is extremely rare and likely in Nova Scotia) while in my location blacks are very prevalent in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike. In addition to this, immigrants to Canada universally seek to assimilate to "White" Canadian culture, while in the US, large numbers of immigrants assimilate to "black" American culture. There really is no parallel to "black" American culture in Canada, except in some form French Canadian culture. By this I mean that French Canadians serve as the "other" Canadians, but I still feel it is a flawed comparison since French Canadians are a nation of people in their own right while black Americans are just a part of the larger American nation of people.

Anyways, In Canada I often found myself surrounded by well-meaning white Canadians making what in my opinion were very racially ignorant remarks, but obviously I didn't speak up or "start any trouble" due to being vastly outnumbered and of course outside of my own country. I am no position to claim that my perspective is superior or more "advanced" than theirs, but I think it is fair for me to express that they sometimes made me feel uncomfortable. Please note that there were also white Canadians who also went out of their way to accommodate me and I found this very classy and greatly appreciated it.

As an anecdoate, I would like to add that I am mixed, Northern European American and African American by ancestry, and am in no way shape or form the type who goes about looking to accuse people of racism. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt, and really tire quickly of those who are quick to pull the race card at every turn.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
5,722 posts, read 3,202,766 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajl22586 View Post
I would agree with most of the sentiments stated here.

I would add that there is a huge disparity between university-educated Canadians and everyone else. The former group tends to be overly PC to the point of absurdity, while the latter tends to be almost completely unaware of any basic cultural sensivity/respect at all (even more pronounced in smaller cities and towns). It's a strange mix, and in both cases I see it as disrespectful.
Well said, ajl.

I, too, agree with most of the opinions expressed recently on this thread (I couldn't rep any of you again, Acajack, hobbes, edward ).

Edward, you've said you felt the least comfortable as a professional person of colour in Toronto, which I can understand. Could you talk a little about what your experience was in the UK - and London, correct? - as compared to Canada and the US? Perhaps you've talked about that in much older posts that I haven't seen, so I apologize if I'm having you repeat anything.

Last edited by newdixiegirl; 10-12-2014 at 08:18 AM..
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Colorado
1,524 posts, read 2,263,375 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newdixiegirl View Post
Well said, ajl.

I, too, agree with most of the opinions expressed recently on this thread (I couldn't rep any of you again, Acajack, hobbes, edward ).

Edward, you've said you felt the least comfortable as a professional person of colour in Toronto, which I can understand. Could you talk a little about what your experience was in the UK - and London, correct? - as compared to Canada and the US? Perhaps you've talked about that in much older posts that I haven't seen, so I apologize if I'm having you repeat anything.
Thanks for being open to the discussion. I often meet a lot of "roadblocks" or accusations of character flaws when trying to discuss race issues in the Canadian context so it has kind of led to me to keep my mouth shut unless in a favorable setting (aka the US). Like I said I am not one who revels in calling others racist, and am very cautious to use that label as it can make or break careers and friendships. But like you I find that Edward has some great experiences to share (and is very objective), so hopefully he can share more with us.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
5,722 posts, read 3,202,766 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbesdj View Post
I just also wanted to say that Acajack "gets it" and contributes excellent conversation to our threads (In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about the historical development of Canada). Hats off to you Acajack!
I agree 100%. Acajack is, more often than not, the voice of reason in the Canadian forums, and I'm sure in any others he frequents. Intelligent and insightful, but always calm, sensible, balanced and kind (my goodness, I think I've developed a cyber crush on Acajack ).
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Old 10-12-2014, 10:01 AM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,007,397 times
Reputation: 2661
Quote:
Originally Posted by newdixiegirl View Post
Well said, ajl.

I, too, agree with most of the opinions expressed recently on this thread (I couldn't rep any of you again, Acajack, hobbes, edward ).

Edward, you've said you felt the least comfortable as a professional person of colour in Toronto, which I can understand. Could you talk a little about what your experience was in the UK - and London, correct? - as compared to Canada and the US? Perhaps you've talked about that in much older posts that I haven't seen, so I apologize if I'm having you repeat anything.
I don't mind speaking about this in the least. The reason why my posts on London are limited is because it is still a relatively new experience for me. I find that it takes at least a year to typically adjust culturally to a new location and some things we take offense to in the first year may not be offensive but rather misunderstandings culturally. So I do not like to draw conclusions right off the bat.

London overall has been an easy transition, almost instantly felt at home in the place. Being originally from the West Indies I find that the British in general share alot in common and have a comfort level with West Indians (Specifically Jamaicans in my case) that is tough to find most other places, even cities with large West Indian communities. They "get us" and we "get them" so to speak and are comfortably integrated into most parts of society. When it comes to race, Londoners are alot more comfortable speaking openly on the subject than Canadians, but less open than Americans from my experience. The stereotype that the British are reserved is not fully accurate from my view and race is typically not a topic that they shy away from.

Professionally my personal experiences are limited. I work for the international wing of a Boston based healthcare company and spend maybe one day in our Canary Wharf office a week. My project team is based in Doha, so on a day to day basis I am typically working from home and do not have to immerse myself in the office politics that typically come with a 9-5. I will say that the black professional community in London is very visible, organized and vocal. Not to the extent of a large US city, but alot more present and integrated than the one Canadian city I lived in (Toronto).

My wife on the other hand has spoken to me about the differences in racial makeup of her firm in London vs Boston vs Toronto. In Boston her law firm had quite a few Black Attorneys she could go to and relate to, including the Managing Partner. In London the visible minority makeup of the law firm is typically South and East Asian and I believe she is one of only 4 black attorney's in that location. Only one has made Partner. In Toronto she was not an attorney at the time but a Law Clerk, but she worked for two large firms (One with 150 attorneys, the other with 250) In the firm of 150 there were no black attorney's and in the firm of 250 there was one black attorney at the associate level. She also mentioned that the representation of East and South Asian attorney's was small to almost non existent. This is something that many white folks take for granted, they can walk into any company and find a mentor that understands them culturally immediately, it is not as simple for a woman of colour.

As far as day to day life is concerned I have not had any uncomfortable racial experiences so far thankfully. We can be in any neighborhood upper or working class and have never been stopped and harassed by the police. We live in Southwark (Shad Thames) which is a predominantly white neighborhood and have had no issues. Our daughter also attends a school a couple miles away that is racially mixed and is happy as ever, but kids are typically great anywhere.

All that said my wife's assignment ends after 2 years and we most likely will return to Cambridge, MA to settle down and raise our daughter. We did say that if she is offered a permanent exchange at the time we would strongly consider staying in London instead. That is enough endorsement in itself as to how comfortable we feel.

Hopefully that gave you a bit of an overview of my limited experience across the pond.
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Old 10-13-2014, 06:05 AM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,007,397 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbesdj View Post
Anyways, In Canada I often found myself surrounded by well-meaning white Canadians making what in my opinion were very racially ignorant remarks, but obviously I didn't speak up or "start any trouble" due to being vastly outnumbered and of course outside of my own country. I am no position to claim that my perspective is superior or more "advanced" than theirs, but I think it is fair for me to express that they sometimes made me feel uncomfortable. Please note that there were also white Canadians who also went out of their way to accommodate me and I found this very classy and greatly appreciated it.

As an anecdoate, I would like to add that I am mixed, Northern European American and African American by ancestry, and am in no way shape or form the type who goes about looking to accuse people of racism. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt, and really tire quickly of those who are quick to pull the race card at every turn.
First off Hobbes, just wanted to say thank you for the kind words. I likewise enjoy reading your posts and always take the time to read them in their entirety.

I think you made an important point above and that needed to be said. The fear many of us have is how we are perceived if we raise the topic of race. The last thing you want to be viewed as is a race baiter or troublemaker. The default reaction to someone who speaks openly about racism is to think that they are using it as a crutch to explain the failings of their lives.

It is important for people like you and I, who by all accounts have enjoyed a level of success in life that was not expected of them (Expectations set by society) It shows people that speaking about race is not about searching for an excuse but rather to shine a light on a problem that many people choose to ignore or genuinely believe has been eliminated.

Like you I am also mixed. My grandfather was a Jewish Jamaican of Ashkenazi descent. So like you, I do not have any chip on my shoulder towards the white community in the least and also hate the playing of the race card by certain people who use it an an excuse for every perceived offense.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
8,593 posts, read 11,077,046 times
Reputation: 10306
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbesdj View Post


I couldn't agree more. The outright denial of the existence of racism in Canada is what gets my goat. I call it 1940's style racism because back in the day people pretended that all was well and denied that there was a problem to be fixed. The "status quo" so to speak. Anyways, to me coming from the northeastern US eastern Canada appeared to me as an extremely "White" country, due to the fact that almost all blacks are immigrants and make up a small single digit percentage of the populace (compared to the 30% I am accustomed to in Maryland, and the other high numbers in places like Philadelphia, New Jersey, etc). For example, you will never see a black farmer in Canada (and if so it is extremely rare and likely in Nova Scotia) while in my location blacks are very prevalent in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike. In addition to this, immigrants to Canada universally seek to assimilate to "White" Canadian culture, while in the US, large numbers of immigrants assimilate to "black" American culture. There really is no parallel to "black" American culture in Canada, except in some form French Canadian culture. By this I mean that French Canadians serve as the "other" Canadians, but I still feel it is a flawed comparison since French Canadians are a nation of people in their own right while black Americans are just a part of the larger American nation of people.

Anyways, In Canada I often found myself surrounded by well-meaning white Canadians making what in my opinion were very racially ignorant remarks
I think you'll get the denial more often than not, is because people have generally never had to deal with race issues as others see them. They think black/white Latino/white. I also think as Canada continues to be the multicultural place that I'm from, there are going to be some growing pains as people are confronted with their actual prejudices as opposed to sitting in an ivory tower (pun intended) clucking at those "racists" elsewhere.

Just like everywhere, there's a portion of any population that are stuck, ill informed, uneducated, and in some cases willingly so. Unfortunately, in a lot of locations, especially rural, that stone hasn't been kicked over yet.

If you want to hear racist crap, just ask them about the First Nations instead of what they think of black people.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
5,722 posts, read 3,202,766 times
Reputation: 7177
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
I don't mind speaking about this in the least. The reason why my posts on London are limited is because it is still a relatively new experience for me. I find that it takes at least a year to typically adjust culturally to a new location and some things we take offense to in the first year may not be offensive but rather misunderstandings culturally. So I do not like to draw conclusions right off the bat.
Thanks so much for your post, edward. I enjoyed reading it. I'm sorry, all this time, I thought you HAD been in the UK a few years ago, but you were now living in Boston. I now realize that it's the other way around, so yes, your time in London hasn't been that long.

But it sounds like it's going to be a good experience and a lot of fun. I'd love to try living in the UK, especially London. And it's good that you feel that they "get" you and that you "get" them. I know that feeling, and it's makes the transition to a new place that much easier.
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Old 10-13-2014, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,946 posts, read 27,348,673 times
Reputation: 8603
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyyc View Post

If you want to hear racist crap, just ask them about the First Nations instead of what they think of black people.
That's a very good point. Until recently (and it's still the case in much of Canada), race relations with black people was something the vast majority of Canadians saw on American TV and movies. It's very easy to point the finger and say "not us!" in cases like that when it's not a situation you are dealing with every single day.

The contemporary issue of illegal immigration is a similar case BTW.
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