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Dismantling Color-Blindness versus Racial Acceptance: The Reality of Racism in Canada

It was then difficult to imagine that Canada has, for a while, blatantly supported apartheid in South Africa.

And in a snap, Canada seemed to have reversed its position. Way back in 1939, Canada notably established diplomatic relations with South Africa, maintaining a deep and broad relationship because of its anti-apartheid efforts within the Commonwealth in the 1980s. Furthermore, it is said that the establishment of a multi-racial democratic society in South Africa strengthened ties between both countries. A collaborative effort between Canadian and South African experts was made while drafting South Africa’s first democratic constitution.

Moreover, Canada appeared to be fully anti-apartheid when it bestowed upon Nelson Mandela honorary citizenship in 2001 to recognize and acknowledge his fight against apartheid. A partnership with a foundation resulted in creating a scholarship program designed for young professionals who wish to pursue graduate studies in public administration and public policy in Canada. Canada and South Africa are regularly held strategic annual bilateral consultations, covering issues on trade and investment, science and technology, culture, and education.

And so, it appears that government efforts have proved that Canada is no longer pro-apartheid. The question is, is it really?

Despite claims of the absence of racism and racists, people of color still report racism in their daily lives.

The thing is, it has become so embedded in daily living that these racially discriminatory acts no longer “stand out.”

History paints an ugly picture of racism and slavery in Canada, and the legacy lives on, though disguised in a façade of rather normal society. David Gillborn, a sociologist and professor of critical race studies, quotes, “The majority of racism “remains hidden beneath a veneer of normality, and it is only the more crude and obvious forms of racism that are seen as problematic by most people.”

It the more experienced by people who opt to go for higher education. These institutions are more likely to display inequality and racism hidden behind a pretense of meritocracy.

Racism in Canada is perfectly displayed in gestures consistent with white nationalism. Though there are fewer occurrences of apparent display of racism on the streets, the heightened sense of white nationalism seems to come as the flawless guise for white supremacy.

In a six-year nationwide study called the Black Experience Project, it was found out that Blacks, compared to non-Blacks, “earn lower incomes, experience higher rates of unemployment, and higher rates of incarceration. They also suffer poorer health outcomes, have more housing difficulties, and are more likely to be victims of violence.”

So much for the claim of doing anti-racism and anti-oppressive actions. Till when will Canada remain blind to these subtle acts of oppression? The first step to healing begins with the acknowledgment that something needs to be healed. How will that occur if Canada refuses to look carefully at the seemingly normal events of white supremacy, especially in the workplace?

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