January 17, 2006
The Globe & Mail
444 Front Street East
Re: "How Canadian are you?" by Marina Jiménez
The opening sentences of Ms. Jiménez' article, "How Canadian are you?" (Jan. 12, 2007), suggests that the onus of the integration into Canadian society rests solely and completely on the visible minority immigrant. What is the responsibility of the rest of the population in opening the doors of acceptance?
The fact is that even those of the racialized communities, not to mention the First Nations, who can trace their ancestral connection to Canada by several generations, still feel like outsiders. They are often asked the perturbing question: Where are you from? The assumption of course is that if you are a racialized person you are not from Canada.
In a recent presentation to a committee of the Quebec National Assembly which was consulting on an anti-racism policy for Québec, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) made the point that the definition of whom is a Quebecer excludes non-whites. The same can be stated, in many respects, for the definition or understanding of whom is a Canadian.
It is for these reasons that the CRRF has constantly argued for racism and anti-racism be brought back into the debate. Multiculturalism and diversity policies, while their intentions may be good, they address tolerance, not equality.
In the same way, the interpretation that "The sense of exclusion among visible-minority newcomers is not based on the fact that they earn less than their white counterparts" is an attempt to wallpaper over one of the fundamental indicators of racism and racial discrimination. Research conducted on our behalf clearly demonstrates that the earning gap between white and racialized persons is significant. Being passed over for promotions is also part of that equation.
One gets the impression frequently that there is a constant sense of surprise when racialized Canadians express an opinion on matters that have nothing to do with race. How frequently, for example, do the media seek comments on national or international issues that are political or economic but have nothing to do with race? Is it that they don't have a Canadian opinion?