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Fanning The Flame Through Denial Of Racism Claim

Protestors demonstrate in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States, against the savage, unconscionable, knee-to-the-throat killing of 46-year-old, African-American George Floyd, by local police. Photo credit: Josh Hild/Unsplash.

Fanning The Flame Through Denial Of Racism Claim

By Yvonne Sam
Contributing Columnist

Yvonne Sam -- newI am watching as various classes of elites, politicians and top-ranking public figures succinctly drive this country, and its Black population, deeper into conflict and division, on account of mere interpretation and denial.

The term, “racism”, has become enmeshed in an aura of contentious and dubious interpretations.

Currently in Canada, we have two public health crises: one is of recent times — COVID-19; and the other has been afflicting us for generations – Racism.

Racism is Canada’s oldest and most repugnant disease, and I am saddened that, as we mourn the loss of Black lives, at the hands of cops, both here and in America, we are being told that there is no racism. www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/is-there-systemic-racism-in-calgary-police-1.5606964.

In addition to this being factually wrong, on all counts, the absurd propagation of the concept that racism is not present, only serves to encourage and embolden White people, and white-dominated systems, that their work is done. Well that must change, and it must start now.

For countless decades, scholars, activists and historians, in this country, have been tediously documenting the deep issues in our fight for racial justice, and pushing for actual change.

Former CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio host and commentator, Rex Murphy, had the unmitigated effrontery to say that he is convinced that racism does not exist in this country, and that the “vast majority” of Canadians would “never participate in it”.

Sadly, Murphy was not the only one to wrap himself in the “polite Canadian” stereotype as a security blanket, this week, either. His comments were indirectly echoed by Quebec’s Premier François Legault.

“We have this discussion, very often,” the premier said, at a press conference in Montreal. “I think there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there’s no systemic discrimination. There’s no system in Quebec, of discrimination. And it’s a very, very small minority of the people that are doing some discrimination.” globalnews.ca/news/7042193/francois-legault-sticks-to-position-that-systemic-racism-doesnt-exist-in-quebec/

Who is listening? That must change.

The anger Black people feel is real. Denial of the presence of racism, calling the shame by another name, exonerating the actor, by an additional factor, only inflames the wound.

Canada’s communities of color are vibrant, unique and essential, and the systemic racism that withholds progress, must not be denied, but eradicated. The truth be told, individuals, who have had no lived-experience of racism, discrimination or bigotry; who have never been anything other than privileged and accepted; who have no interest in truly comprehending race issues, should not weigh in on the subject of racism.

It is blatantly apparent that the policies, practices and social norms that drive life experiences to diverge, by race, are obvious to those affected; but, on the other hand, often remain invisible to those with privilege.

We cannot continue to tolerate the apathy or intent that causes the lives of Black men — sons, uncles, fathers, brothers — to be disregarded, devalued and discarded.

This endless cycle of pain affects the entire community and, furthermore, the recurring injustice causes damage, in equal amounts, to the heart and health of all, who live with the reality that the next time history repeats, they, or their loved ones, could very well end up in harm’s way.

The anger Black people feel is real. Denial of the presence of racism, calling the shame by another name, exonerating the actor, by an additional factor, only inflames the wound.

It is time that people, especially those called to protect and serve, exit from the comfort of their individual existence, and hold, tightly, to the humanity that allows recognition of the innate worth of others.

Leadership starts at the top, and if we are to see a good crop, then politicians, leaders etc. must be held accountable for permanently changing the narrative and reality of this nation.

How much longer must people of color cry out for justice, only to have their pleas fall on deaf ears, or be met with indifference, by those who should be allies?

The existing problem, between the “boys in blue” and those of a different hue, will remain. Nothing will fix the problem, until we stop putting the same cops, into the same shops, to deal with the same people, to enforce the same laws, using the same training and the same tactics.

On the table for immediate change, are police tactics and culture. Aggressive police behavior has made, even innocent law-abiding citizens afraid to call them — even when they are needed.

Sadly, when we become angry and bitter, solutions — such as police reform, and education — which will take years, seem too far away to be an answer. Granted, none of the proffered recommendations would be a solution on their own, but if we doggedly stick to them, we would, slowly, begin to take steps towards repairing a racial justice system that has been fractured, for far too long. It may take years, even generations, to unsnarl centuries of corrupt decisions and failures. But we need to begin.

We have demanded an end to racism. Is this actionable?

Sentencing Derek Chauvin to rot in jail, until he takes his last breath, would do nothing to prevent the next tragedy. If we defund the police, is that realistic? NO! NO! and another emphatic NO!

We need good policies, continued uninterrupted, over the years; specific policies with pragmatic guidelines; proper funding; and measurable goals. Our pace must be faster, our determination must be sharper and our urgency greater.

And to those of contrary minds — as to the definition, classification, presentation or manifestation of racism — please be advised, that the reactions to injustice that we are displaying now, are the result of accumulated oppression, continuous disadvantages and failing hope that the disparities and the dehumanizing treatment, especially at the hands of the police, will ever end.

Denial of racism is not a game, all it does is further fan the flames.

Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Public Relations Officer of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.

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