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Most of us who live here know that Quebec society has evolved past these outdated stereotypes.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.