Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't let discrimination get you down

A to Z challenge: Day 4

D is for Don't let discrimination get you down

Pauline Marois: Glorious PQ leader
Discrimination in Quebec, like many other things French, is quite refined. They have narrowed it down to what comes out of your mouth. It’s all about how you pronounce “bien, oui.”

I’m sure the average Quebecker doesn’t realize many of the Maurois PQ policies are racist and out of date. They probably haven’t thought that much about, since like you and I, they are busy having a life, raising their families and making ends meet. They’ve left the politics up to those who have lots of leisure time – the wealthy. They would probably be very angry if they realized they were being manipulated so those privileged people can keep their power. Most of them probably don’t have the opportunity to know people from other cultures, especially in smaller communities. I grew up in a tiny all-white, English speaking suburb. We were racist and close-minded. There were assumptions about other religions, other cultures and other people different from us. We were wrong. What changed me was traveling and meeting other people around the world. It didn’t take long to realize there is a fundamental humanity that connects us. I’ve ended up making friends with some unlikely people who helped me expand. I’m grateful to them.

It’s a shame the Maurois PQ couldn’t keep the vision of a united Quebec in a more positive way. Instead they fueled it with fear, bullying and ended up looked petty and weak. It’s short sighted to stir up the wounds of past conflicts without every considering if things have improved. Back in the early part of the 20th century, French Canadians were treated poorly and treated like second class citizens. They were discriminated against and held back in their own province. Their language almost disappeared. The Quiet Revolution changed that and there is a reason Rene Levesque is a hero to many. He righted many wrong and transformed Quebec. He made Canada a better country. And, that was a good thing. All Pauline Marois and her gang have done is broken trust with that vision.

We still have a long way to go to bridge our two solitudes. Anglo Canada is not innocent. We have our share of red-neck racists as well who look down on the Quebecois. It’s important to remember there are also a lot of us who support Quebec. We like the French Canadian culture. We appreciate them. We try our best at improving our French.

The PQ has turned Quebec from being the persecuted into the persecutors and hiding behind protecting their culture. They’ve encouraged people to stay closed. Instead of believing in the strength of the Quebecois culture, they’ve presented it as something that is weak and under attack. A culture that can so easily fade that is must be encased in a protective bubble at the expense of other cultures. They want to clump all others into this faceless mob tromping out their culture. I can’t blame for them thinking that way, Anglophones we guilty of doing that in the past. However, isn’t leading us into the future part of their job as leaders?

Aren’t true leaders the ones who get us to move beyond old ideas? Aren’t they the ones who inspire us, help us to grow and become our best? There are examples of true leaders who inspired and lead nations into positive transformations. There are also plenty of examples of what fear, hatred and divisiveness has created in other countries.

It’s been interesting being on the receiving end of discrimination. It’s made me angry. It’s made me bitter. It’s made me sad. I hate being judged on something so superficial as my family name and the way my mouth works. I can still escape it though. All I have to do is shut my mouth when I am around these bigots and they can’t tell if I am different. After most of them are white and so am I.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to never escape discrimination because you can’t hide the colour of your skin. In an weird way, the PQ have made me want to become more open-minded and keep looking at my shortcomings around race and discrimination. They have become my example of what I don’t want to become: fearful and living in the past.

So when I run into my next flaming Maurois-supporter who insists on being mean to me or trying to deny me a service or make me feel bad about myself, I not take it personally. I'll offer them some compassionate thoughts and keep promising to evolve.  Then, again, depending on my mood, I must just tell them to piss off. I'm not that much of a saint.