Categorized | Opinion

Racism: Something that can be overcome

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

Gagan Batra

Early last week there was a YouTube video posted online by a teenage girl that sparked a lot of controversy among South Asians and other communities? The video featured a young girl talking about how “brown” people are all terrorists. Other derogatory and racist remarks that were made towards Brampton’s “brown” community included observations such as they all smell like curry, carry weapons in their turbans and should go back to their own country. For legal reasons I will not disclose the name of the girl responsible for the video, although it can be found if searched for online. As one can imagine, this video generated a lot of anger amongst the South Asian communities in Brampton, Mississauga, and other places. In a city as diverse as Brampton, it is ridiculous that one person can make such ignorant remarks targeted to just one of the communities in the region.

Naturally, being a South Asian woman who resides in Brampton, I was initially offended by the video. However, after further consideration, I realized that the girl responsible for the video did not do anything more than restate some of the most farfetched stereotypes associated with “brown” people. For me the most insulting part of the video is the point at which all “brown” people were told to go back to their own country. Most of my South Asian friends, like me, were born in Canada. My parents have been Canadian citizens for over twenty years, and even my grandmother is a Canadian citizen. To tell all South Asians, Arabs, Africans, and others who are not noticeably Caucasian to go back to their own countries is not only insulting, but indicative of extreme ignorance. Canada was founded by aboriginals, those people whose skin is not white in color. In history lessons since elementary school, we have been taught that the only true and original Canadians are those from Aboriginal descent. All people in Canada, even those people whose skin color is white, were immigrants at some point in time.  Canada is a country that is known internationally for its multiculturalism, its denial of racism and any discriminatory behavior on the basis of one’s nationality, culture, religion, and skin color. That being said, it is no surprise that there are still people who claim to be superior over others based on those superficial attributes.

Thus, it is inevitable that hints of racism will be present in some people, whether it is apparent or not. I do urge all people to take a step back and look at the wider context in which their preconceived notions of other races are formed. Do they come from family, school, social connections, or the media? I personally, think that in today’s day and age, media has a great influence on people’s mentalities in terms of their images of other people. I cannot remember the number of times there have been certain stereotypes enforced about people in music videos or television programs. The reason that stereotyping individuals based on their races is considered acceptable in those terms is because they are produced by popular media, a force that is so dominant in today’s society. In no way do I endorse the comments or views expressed by the teenage girl in her controversial YouTube video, but I do think that part of the reason for there being more hatred and negativity stirring towards her is due to her lack of a title or authority. Of course, in this case, the main reason for the controversy is because of the public denunciation of “brown” people as bad people. Other stereotypes are in most cases ignored. I cannot count the number of times it’s been assumed that I am good at math due to the color of my skin. The difference between my example and those negative comments made by the teenage girl in the YouTube video is apparent.

I would advise people to not take this sort of hatred and negativity based on the color of their skin too much to heart. In most cases, they are not well informed opinions, and they do not change the way that those people who are informed think. There is no way to control the thoughts and opinions of everyone in the world. Racism is a very serious issue that has been present for so long that it would be naive to think it is not present in some way, shape, or form today. However, the good news is that we live in a country that takes steps to improving people’s ways of life and preventing such racist attitudes as much as possible. Not only is Canada known for its multiculturalism and diversity, but there are laws that do not allow people to behave and treat others in any ways that demean them based on the color of their skin. The YouTube video that sparked the whole controversy has been removed, and the family of the girl responsible has made an apology to all who were offended by her words. This just goes to show, although one’s own thoughts are not controllable by other people, what can be controlled is the way we allow them to affect us.

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