Another anti-racism initiative that’s sure to miss the mark

08.16.06

When will people understand that certain ways of dealing with racism only serve to compound the problem?

Take, for example, the planned Quebec anti-racism initiative, which is being launched in response to public hearings and a report by the Task Force on the Full Participation of Black Communities in Quebec. Among the report’s recommendations:

– The Quebec government should adopt an official policy to fight all forms of racial discrimination.

– Quebec’s civil service should consider hiring quotas for blacks and other visible minorities.

– The province should document how blacks are portrayed in the media so it can inform journalists and media owners about how they ”often portray blacks negatively.”

– The Ministry of Education should review school textbooks to make sure they mention the contribution of blacks and other visible minorities to Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Hiring quotas? Media portrayal standards? Are we really back there again? Hasn’t anyone realized by now that this stuff doesn’t work?

Anyway, all of this is nothing but a smokescreen. The real problem with anti-racism initiatives in Quebec is that they’re politically-motivated. Any real efforts to combat racism would have to expose the nasty little secrets about Quebec society that nobody – particularly the politicians – wants to talk about.

The truth is, racism is a problem everywhere. But in Quebec, it’s more politically-correct to be racist against some groups than others. Sure, everyone will get on board when we talk about racism against people with different skin colour… so long as their first language is French. But racism against anglophones? Against Jews? Against Asians? Against groups that the Quebec government won’t even allow in as immigrants because their command of the French language is less than perfect? Anyone who dares bring any of those up is accused of being part of the bourgeoisie elite, or the oppressive “rich white English” from “Westmount” trying to keep down the poor, downtrodden working-class French.

Most of us who live here know that Quebec society has evolved past these outdated stereotypes. So why do government officials still insist on propagating them? And why is it that any discussion of racism only focuses on some groups and not others?

Quebec society is much more open-minded, multi-ethnic and multicultural than it used to be. Look how tolerant we are for, say, Hezbollah supporters who want to march downtown with flags comparing Israelis to Nazis… and with the backing of prominent Quebec politicians.

But racism isn’t going to go away here until we scrape under that surface. In the meantime, initiatives like the one proposed by the Quebec government serve only as expensive window-dressing.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stuart 08.17.06 at 12:37 AM

Sari:
You are sounding less and less like a liberal and more and more like a conservative. Does this mean you have finally seen the light. Think about what your political beliefs were when you started at Concordia and compare them to what they are now.

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2 harry 08.17.06 at 3:51 AM

How about starting with the name of a certain subway stop in Montreal? Or does that not matter as the Abbe Groulx was a prize anti-semite?

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3 segacs 08.17.06 at 6:59 AM

Stuart, are you really still trying to make everything about conservative-versus-liberal? Don’t you know me better than that by now? I’ll direct you to the FAQ, for starters.

And Harry, see here – I’m with you on that one.

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4 John Palubiski 08.17.06 at 3:57 PM

Wow! That’s a great posting; lots of “umph” sprinkled with anger.

This latest anti-racist initiative has no other purpose that to distract from and disguise the fact that most racism in Québec is auditory and that the most oppressed minority can’t be seen, only heard.

We need to address the “audible” minority, for a change, don’t we?

As for quotas in the Québec gov’t?

What ever happened to the promises made to anglos several years back, promises that would have seen proportional representation for anglophones in Québec’s civil service?

Finally, this IS a left/right issue.

Right ear AND left ear, that is.

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5 Michael 08.17.06 at 4:39 PM

I sure hope people are starting to become conservative in their thinking. The Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois reek of corruption and racism. Quebec has a long way to go before it can claim to not be slave to old fashioned hate.

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6 Sigivald 08.17.06 at 5:32 PM

I’m always amused to see policies that “fight all forms of racial discrimination”, and then immediately suggest racial quotas.

The cognitive dissonance must be a fun ride, once you get used to it, I suppose.

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7 Stuart 08.17.06 at 8:34 PM

Sari:
I recall some of your postings on The Link”. There you asserted yourself to be progressive in your thinking.

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8 segacs 08.17.06 at 10:27 PM

*Sigh* Do we really need to have this whole left-right conversation again?

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9 Ikram 08.21.06 at 4:10 PM

Sari wrote:
But racism against anglophones?

Are anglophones a ‘race’? Many of them are white, but so are most francophones Quebeckers.

Prejudice and bigotry based on mother-tongue (or religion) is not the same as racism. It’s also bad, but it’s not the same.

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