The unfortunate realities

Amrit Ahluwalia
Amrit Ahluwalia

Life’s unfair; this is an indisputable fact.

As an immigrant, or the child of an immigrant, you’ll often find yourself being identified as a visible minority. Although most of the mainstream population is tolerant, you have to, as a visible minority, expect some degree of abuse from a small pocket of the majority population.

This should not happen but it does happen.

Unfortunately, a visible minority is easier to identify than a linguistic or religious one.

Racism isn’t isolated to Queen’s, Canada or white people. We must accept the fact that, while most people are tolerant, there’s a minority of the population who do not recognize our right to be “Here”—and this happens almost everywhere in the world.

It’s distasteful, but we visible minorities need to grow thicker skin and pick our battles. A dirty look on the street is not deserving of the term “racism,” as it cheapens the meaning and weight of the word.

A racist comment, while hurtful, is unfortunately a reality of living as a visible minority and can and should be ignored. Racist people are looking for a reaction by making such comments; don’t give them that pleasure.

Telling racist people such comments are inappropriate will go over their heads; clearly they’re not the most sensitive or accepting people in the world.

When a felony is committed, as we just saw happen to the QUMSA club space, that’s when the police should get involved. That’s a fight to pick, and the institutions are in place to deal with such situations.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that visible minorities are a lesser people, as has been suggested in the past. I don’t believe that a coloured person has less right to the sidewalk than a white person.

I just don’t think it’s helpful to anyone to act as if we’re in a society of complete tolerance and understanding, because we aren’t. This is a global reality wherever there are identifiable minority pockets of the population.

We’ve seen massive improvements in the way race issues are treated in Canada over the last century, half century, 20 years and 10 years.

I’ve even seen a dramatic increase of racial tolerance on this campus in the three years I’ve been here.

Our society has reached a point where interracial dating and marriages are commonplace and where there’s a basic understanding of different cultures being taught in schools across the country. It has reached a point where racism’s commonly looked down upon, and humour can be found in it (read: Peters, Russell).

But by sweating the small stuff, such as verbal harassment and dirty looks, we’re cheapening our own cause and allowing racist people the pleasure of seeing us get upset. Don’t give them that pleasure.

Pick your battles appropriately, as the continual increase of racial understanding depends on careful treading on our part.

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