On August 3, the US and world were witnesses as 31 people died in two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. With gun violence increasing by the hour, we find it's not just an epidemic spread in the US. Just yesterday, a man was sent to the hospital in a life-threatening condition after being shot in a suspected daylight home invasion in Markham. The incident occurred too close to our home and has us losing our night's sleep. Last week, in a nearby area frequently visited by me and our friends, a man on a motorcycle opened fire killing a man and gravely injuring a woman. Times are crazy and one now thinks twice before venturing out.
The first thing that needs to be addressed here is the general attitude towards “immigrants” in the west. While there is no evidence suggesting that the local incidents here were of racial nature in any way, the US shootings as they always are, were more or less fueled with an innate hatred towards the non-whites. All these years, I have read more news about race-related violence or abuse, than I wish to admit. To be honest, they are what covers the most part of any newspaper or publication. Racial hatred is so common, reading about them or watching events over the news don't even make us flinch anymore.
Race plays an important part in our lives. It defines who you are, it highlights your pedigree, your culture. The colour of your skin decides how you would be treated in this society. It is 2019, and we are still fighting the war against race. It's abysmal to say the least.
I never truly realised what a privilege it was to sit in the comforts of my home back in India, bask in the entitlements organically passed on to me by my family and workplace; and look at the incoming reports of racist attacks and abuses. The West is just as brutal as forgiving, I used to think. All these people who were a couple shades darker than the respected skin tone, rushing to live the dream, make a better life. Why would they even migrate I remember asking myself. It wasn't until last weekend when I faced a mild case of bigotry that I realised it never comes when expected. After being called a not-so-flattering word, directed specifically at southeast Asians, at an upscale restaurant in downtown Toronto my friends and I left the place fuming. The rest of the evening I kept thinking why the female felt the need to say what she said.
Racism in Canada is a lot different than that in the US. It's more passive, aggressive, served in such small doses that more often than not they go unnoticed. It's not rampant either. I discussed the incident with my husband and he had the textbook answer for me. Canada is not exempt to systemic racism. While it is a cultural haven and the most accepting of all kinds of races, it too has issues that run generations deep. I am aware of the “What to expect in the West” manual. I know what I went through was no where close to what people of brown skin went through in the past. But even if all these years, after all the struggle, after all the lives that were lost in the fight of equality, the fight for cultural and religious esteem, if a single non-white person in this day even so much as feels uncomfortable in their own skin tone, it is one case too many. Among all the things and issues that require immediate attention, racism does not need to be one.
Photo Caption: Warning issued by Amnesty International for travellers to the US, in the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings