Sunday, July 01, 2012

On Canada Day, the Toronto Star reminds me I'm being defined by the colour of my skin

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1219639--a-markham-street-reveals-much-about-gta-ethnic-enclaves

(Markham is where I where I grew up and live... my family moved here before the boom, before it became 50% Asian and before it became rich. When I was a kid most stuff here was still farms and farmland)

This article is basically meant to make white Canadians feel good on Canada day that scary PoCs (specifically Asian people, the eternal foreigners who can never be trusted and never are "from here") are "integrating" and therefore safe, while of course reminding them that we're still different and kinda scary.

I'm born here, and I have no interest in gardening and I find "Canadian art" boring. My family has Chinese art on the walls. Am I not a real Canadian? Must I garden?

Do white people who don't garden, or can't garden, questioned about their Canadianess? Are they told that they need to "integrate" more (also wtf is this idea that non-white people can't garden!?)

The big thing about that story is essentially the "good immigrant" is one who is helpless, wants to be more Canadian, struggles, and is taught by the benevolence of their white neighbours how to be more Canadian. We're supposed to be dependent, not independent b/c that's scary. If we hung our own art that we understand better than our white neighbours on the walls, that'd be scary. If we don't struggle with a language so we can be condescended to, but speak our own language that white people must struggle with, that's scary. We have to look wide eyed at hockey, and not be threatening that we either like non-Canadian sports, or that we pick up hockey without needing to be confused and taught... cuz otherwise that's scary too.

White Canadians who have Chinese art are cultured, but if we do, then it's proof we're not really Canadians. Not that anything can really prove that because I'm born here and I'm CONSTANTLY asked where I'm "from" and when I say "Canada", they asked me "no, where are you REALLY from?" e_e

“Integration occurs because teenagers meet each other and develop relationships based on their areas of interests,” says principal Debbie Linkewich, noting the school has 65 clubs. “It absolutely happens naturally because that’s what happens in high schools.”

The school has also brought less welcome changes. Brunswick residents complain of teenagers hanging out in the street’s laneway, smoking drugs.

Two years ago, a summer student being marched back to school to be disciplined surreptitiously threw a plastic bag in a Brunswick garden. A resident discovered it was filled with small bags of marijuana.

“Last year (the police) strip-searched a guy right in the middle of the street — pants down and everything,” says the resident.

Drugs first became a street-wide issue on July 20, 2007. That day, a fire broke out on one of Brunswick’s brick homes. Firefighters who arrived discovered an ecstasy lab in the basement. Next thing residents saw was an old man in his underwear being chased by police. His partner — a grumpy and unfriendly woman of Asian origin, residents say — was also arrested.

Random segue into crime. Do profiles of white suburbs get random segues into crime? Also, of course most people reading this probably would be seeing this as being the fault of PoCs rather than it being an example of police abuse. Remember, the police are just protecting you against the scary Chinese people!

Ethnic enclaves are defined as places where 10 to 30 per cent of residents in a census tract are from a specific ethnic background.

I wonder how many people reading this live in a white enclave. Maybe we should call the cops to make sure nothing bad happens with all these white people hanging around int he same place. >_>

And, the area, she feels, is too Chinese. “It’s all one racial group. I prefer to live somewhere with a lot of people from different backgrounds. Because, this is a multicultural country and I like to meet different people from different backgrounds and different countries.

“It’s more interesting.”

Asked if she sees the neighbourhood as a good place to integrate into Canadian life, Chen gives a flat, “No. You only can speak Chinese. There is no opportunity to practise my English.”

Another example of the "good immigrant". There's nothing wrong her own personal opinion, she's entitled to what she feels is best for her, but her inclusion in this article isn't an accident. It's to show that this is the attitude Chinese Canadians SHOULD have. You don't want to be in a place with all Chinese people! That's "too Chinese"! Forget comfort level, or that for some people, it's a lot easier to learn and adapt when you're also comfortable, when you have a home and a neighbourhood you can speak the language you're fluent in and not be condescended to because you're struggling. What people don't get is that it's really humiliating to a lot of ADULTS to be treated as children and struggling to communicate with a society that takes no effort to reach back. What's WRONG with them wanting to live in a place where they can speak in a language they are treated as an adult in, where they aren't risking mockery or condescension?

This whole thing reminds me of an piece my school newspaper published a long time ago, where a Chinese student "called out" the other Chinese students saying we weren't "adapting" that we weren't Canadian enough, and that we needed to take an effort to learn hockey and cottage living. Because apparently if you don't like hockey and/or you don't own a cottage, you're not a real Canadian.

Raise your hand if you're white, Canadian, and don't like hockey and/or don't own a cottage. You're now banned from Canada. Luckily, for you, there's always China. You'll fit right in, as long as you hang certain kinds of Chinese art on your walls and play Ping Pong. Don't worry, we'll teach you. You'll be a good white immigrant in no time!

2 comments:

  1. It ain't easy.

    Non-white people can't garden is the same as "white men can't jump" ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "the 'good immigrant' is one who is helpless, wants to be more Canadian, struggles, and is taught by the benevolence of their white neighbours how to be more Canadian."

      Cf. "Frank Smith" on Father Knows Best.

      "smoking drugs" WC?

      "Two years ago, a summer student being marched back to school to be disciplined surreptitiously threw a plastic bag in a Brunswick garden. A resident discovered it was filled with small bags of marijuana."

      I'd consider this a feature, not a bug.

      “Last year (the police) strip-searched a guy right in the middle of the street — pants down and everything,” says the resident.

      Um, maybe that's more a problem with police than with immigrants.

      Delete