Recognizing the normalization of racism


To understand unconscious bias, you also need to accept one basic fact: the systems we grow up in are inherently racist. 

Canada is a country founded on the principle of white supremacy. White settlers came to this country and decided their culture, their lives, and their needs and wants were inherently more important and superior to those of the Indigenous peoples already inhabiting this land.

British settlers took stolen Africans with them to this “new world,” believing they were inferior enough to be considered sub-human and property. From there, the people who founded Canada and the US built systems of power rooted in the belief their culture, religion, way of life and skin colour were inherently superior, crafting the foundations of the society we live in today. 

That's what North American culture was built on: racism. 

It's easy to forget this when you’re of the “majority.” When the country you live in was built to serve people who look like you, it's hard to see the small ways Canadian institutions and society exclude marginalized people—especially people of colour. 

In 2023, we’re entering an era where there’s a greater understanding that racism is bad. People are being held accountable for past racist actions and people of colour are more empowered than ever to speak out against the racism they endure. 

However, Queen's is still a hotbed for racist harassment and microaggressions. Many people of colour here endure a lot of racism from their peers, professors, and sometimes even their friends. 

Despite the general understanding that racism is bad, it’s still normalized. It’s just expressed in more covert ways, so many people who still maintain racist attitudes are fooled into thinking they’re more progressive than they actually are. 

This belief creates an environment where well-meaning people still perpetuate the racist attitudes they claim to denounce, without the self-awareness to realize what they’re doing. Meanwhile, students of colour feel too unsafe to speak out about the racism they endure. 

Queen’s student demographic leans heavily white and creates an environment where students feel speaking out against their white peers might make them a pariah. For every person of colour who wishes to speak out, there are a dozen white students who lack the awareness to understand and might respond to criticism with hostility.

Canadian culture hasn’t totally shaken the inclination to dismiss people of colour and excuse the racist behaviour so prevalent in this country. If Canada and Queen’s are to become a place where racist behaviours aren’t tolerated, the excuses of “it was so long ago” and “they didn’t know any better” can no longer be accepted. 

If Queen’s wants to become a more diverse school, it has to be safe for BIPOC students to enter. Otherwise, Queen’s will forever be falsely advertising diversity to lure BIPOC students into an unsafe environment. 

Clanny is a fourth-year English student and The Journal’s Assistant Lifestyle Editor.

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