Today I saw another one of those scenarios which just really infuriate me and made me want to swoop in and give the parties involved a piece of my mind.
What happened was I witnessed an interaction between a group of South Asians and Caucasians in which the latter group was belittling and speaking authoritatively over the former.
Two Indo-Canadian men who were wearing turbans were being ticketed for something or the other by the police who were pulling people over on my street. I watched from my bedroom window as a man washing his car nearby decided to very animatedly point out the other motorcyclist to the cop and say; “There’s another one here! He’s not wearing a helmet either! That’s what you pulled them over for right?” The cop sauntered over and said “oh no it’s for something else.” The very interested observer then proceeded to say, “so what, these people are exempt from the law? Don’t they have to wear helmets too?” The cop then replied “well, there’s a bit of an unspoken exception for them because they can’t take that thing off” while motioning to the turban. The guy then responded “well can’t they just make one big enough to fit over it. But I suppose that would look hilarious.” The cop responded “yeah THAT would look ridiculous.”
This entire interaction occurred as the men on the motorcycles just sat there staring watching timidly as they were being discussed as if they couldn’t understand the conversation, and maybe they didn’t. It’s the only thing that explains how they didn’t react negatively and speak up for themselves.
Now I don’t know about all of you but I for one feel personally offended and extremely angry when I hear an exchange of this manner take part in front of me. I feel as though there is a subtle undertone of certain individuals feeling justified to speak about ethnic minorities in a less than positive or respectful manner. It is clear they do not consider themselves equal to one another and believe themselves to be superior.
What makes this situation all that much worse is that the policeman was speaking to the man as if they were both in agreement with this general attitude of having the right to speak in such a condescending manner about these men. Is it not their role to discourage this type of mentality in the community? By marginalizing and belittling them alongside my very nosy and less than classy neighbour they are only fostering the growth of this problem.
Usually, if I have the opportunity to do so I will correct these individuals and respond to such comments in a manner which let’s them know it’s unacceptable to speak about others regardless of their race as if they are beneath them. It is not okay for them to feel they have the right to pass judgement towards them. This is why it took me all the much more by surprise when I had someone who reads my blogs tell me the manner in which I outline certain issues within my community (gender inequality, domestic altercations, religious bigotry, and the list goes on) is only contributing to the marginalization of the East-Indian cultural group .
What I feel needs to be made clear in this regard is that I call it how I see it. If what surrounds me is a parade of shootings all at the hands of young Indo-Canadian men, elderly Indian men acting less than respectable, and huge differences in the treatment of males and females then these are the issues I am going to draw attention to. It’s what I feel passionate about, it’s what I feel needs to be discussed in order to work towards correction. This does not mean I am contributing to the allowance of other cultural groups to look down upon my own. I am only attempting to uncover the difference between right and wrong – no matter what race or religion involved.
So long story short – if you hear something which makes you uncomfortable, speak up. And if you are afraid of appearing to be a “traitor” to your own race, don’t be. As long as you believe in what you’re saying and you voice your own opinion at all times without worrying about the reaction from others that is all that matters. In the end what it’s all about is constant improvement and change, and that can only occur if our surrounding societal and cultural issues are pinpointed and discussed.