I have been called many different things, been referred to by many different labels, and perceived myself as many things.
But I have never been ashamed of who I am, or felt singled out. Yes, I am Asian, but I was born and raised in Canada, and went to school here. My friends come from diverse backgrounds and are of various ethnicities. I have dated Caucasian guys. I have never felt different, less, or inferior due to my race. The last racial slur – I heard was when I was less than 10 years old, when some neighborhood kids were singing a song which was distinctly racial. I guess I didn’t fully grasp the implications then – other than that I was being made fun of.
But today, today’s incident was different. I was headed to work, walking down Granville Street, when a well dressed guy in sneakers deliberately elbowed me, and called me a “chink”. I was furious. I couldn’t believe my ears. My first reaction was to call him “racist pig” loud enough for the passerbys to hear. I kept walking.
And then I felt hot angry tears sting my eyes, I have not shed a tear over being called a name in a very long time. And then anger – really, have we not progressed? Have we forgotten, that cliche as it might sound, Canada was built on the backs of immigrants, not to mention blatant disregard for First Nations rights>
I am not naive; I know racism exists, but it has been such a long time since I have had racial slurs hurled at me. And in a city with so much racial diversity no less.
We work, we pay taxes, we own homes, and dare I say, that it’s not often I see a Chinese panhandler????
I have been ashamed of of many things, but I have never been ashamed to be a Canadian, not until today. While I believe, and fervently hope, that individuals like the one I encountered today represent a small proportion of the population, the incident leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.
As for the guy today – maybe he was mentally ill? Maybe not. Perhaps his parents were ingnorant, taught him that racism is okay. Or maybe he needs someone to blame for a rotten childhood. I’ll never know but I don’t need to. There is absolutely no excuse for racism.
Prior to today, I didn’t actually think I would hear such racial slurs out of a grown man’s mouth, but I guess the world never ceases to shock. I will say that for anyone who believes racism does not happen in Vancouver, think again. I sure will.