Racsim on the Sunshine Coast BC
It’s fascinating how black becomes lighter in a community where people of color are not so visible. The language of racial bullying changes, instead of nigger, people become sand niggers. It’s also interesting how many people who live in small communities will say: ‘We don’t have racism, there isn’t an issue. ‘
But if you ask an Aboriginal person or someone of color they will tell you a different story. We could ask who is right? But that would get us nowhere.
I ask can I step into a white person’s shoes for a moment and see it from their perspective? Can a white person step into my shoes and see it from my perspective?
I live in the town of Gibsons just 20 minutes away from Sechelt, and while I have felt welcomed by strangers, I can believe that it was a hate crime that Harrison and his half brother Carmine Mollica experienced last week outside the Trail Bay Mall.
I’m not so vulnerable on the streets of Sechelt, because although I am dark-skinned, I’m a middle aged woman and so I am not so much of a target for this type of terrorizing. However in the town of Gibsons I have had people stop and gawp at me from across the street, come right up into my face and stare, until I have been assertive enough to say I don’t want you looking at me, and people drive by calling out racist comments. This type of bullying goes above my head as I have sadly learnt to expect and tolerate this type of racial bullying in small communities like this.
Those two young men, who were cornered and threatened with ‘I’m going to kill you, you sand nigger’, would have been full of fear, I’m sure. When I was 14, I lived in a small English town, and a similar thing happened, with the skinheads threatening to kill me and my friends. We ran for our lives and the bus would not stop for us so we had to hide behind bushes for several hours. We feared losing our lives.
Thirty years later, I’m living back in a small town and am saddened that racism is still prevalent.
Sadly the police still do not seem to understand the issues we can face on the streets. The Mollica family are experiencing both racial bullying and ancestral bullying. Due to part of their ancestry coming from Iran they have also become victims of bullying after the 9-11 attack. They are not responsible for this tragedy and yet they are clearly carrying some of the weight of people’s anger.
Sechelt, I believe, may be a safe place for people who are not First Nations or of colour. For many First Nations people, and people of colour Sechelt is not safe. Not just because of the racism that can take place in the community but because the police have let many of them down when they have reported an incident.
The community, both White and non White, needs to rally together and speak up against the police, until somebody in authority listens. While Sechelt Mayor John Henderson says: ‘We have a great mix of culture from Chinese to Filipinos to First Nations and Caucasians’, he needs to realize that is not a cure for racism. In fact it can be the dis-ease to bring about racism. The more multicultural a place becomes the more White people can feel threatened. That is a fact. It’s also a fact that there are issues of racism towards First Nations and People of Colour in our schools on the Sunshine Coast and on the streets. Racism will not disappear until we do something about it. Let’s stop being passive bystanders and educate our young. The reality is racism is learned, it is not the heart’s natural response to hate. We learn it from everything around us.
Small towns are no different from the metropolis of big cities. And this incident comes in the wake of the International case of Trayvon Martin, who’s life was taken on February 26th this year in the USA. The person who killed him is still walking free, because the police and state officials are still wrestling with the dilemma of wether or not to file charges against the 28 year old self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
Racism, is a form of bullying, and it is a world concern. The sooner we stand up and talk out against it, the sooner our young people will learn to respect and appreciate other races and cultures.