First update:May 30, 2020,9:20 AM

Editor’s note: Because of the alarming rate of racist incidents happening in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere, we thought we should take a look back at what we wrote 30years ago on racism. It seems that the situation has not changed although some of the issues that triggered the racism have been resolved and are now accepted. But as always, some other fear surfaces and the latent racism rears its ugly face.

During our time in Winnipeg, we fought racism in the mainstream media which engaged in race labeling of crime reporting. The term racial profiling was not used then.We mounted a successful  boycott against the Winnipeg Sun for identifying Filipinos in their crime reporting but not other races.

We also supported the anti-racism struggle in South Africa by rejecting a lucrative advertising contract from the Bank of Nova Scotia at the request of the African National Congress (ANC).

From Mosaic, Feb./March 1990 issue

My turn…

Ted Alcuitas, Publisher and Editor

MOSAIC

Where does racism begin?

There is a wind of intolerance blowing across this land.

From the furour in allowing Sikhs to wear turbans in the RCMP to the anti-French backlash- these are unmistakable signs of a growing climate of intolerance in this country.Where does it begin and how does it grow?

 

RCMP Sgt. Baltej Singh Dhillon, the first Sikh allowed too wear a turban. (Photo-sikhchic.com)

The seeds of racism have to be nurtured in order to survive. Do we look to our schools, our churches or our families for the answers? Are our churches still the pillars of strength that we look up to for guidance in our moral values?

In the CBC documentary on the anti-Sikh calendar, it shows the little town of Langdon, Alberta, where practically all the inhabitants of 280 go to the only church in town – a Baptist church. Yet, it is in this small town that a man by the name of Herman Bittner has decided to launch a campaign of hatred against Sikhs on the ludicrous grounds of “protecting” the tradition of the RCMP.

Mr. Bittner is not alone. Over 200,000 has signed a  petition to support his theory.

Should we look up to our governments for leadership in denouncing these practices? Even the provincial government in Alberta has not responded strongly enough. And the federal government dragged its feet for over a year before making the decision.

This country has a long history of racism.

The way we treated Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, a discriminatory head tax on the Chinese and our horrible treatment of wartime Jews who sought refuge in our country are grim reminders of past wrongs.

Today, we have the Donald Marshall, Betty Osborne and J.J. Harper cases to remind us that racism is alive and well not only in individuals but more so in our institutions of justice.

Today’s racists like the people in Alberta, who produce calendars and pins to ridicule other races, are the sons and daughters  of parents who in their time, ridiculed and rejected other races too. 

They did not become racists by accident.Their attitudes were  nurtured and affirmed, if not by their parents, by the society in which they grew. Surely, Herman Bittner did not appear on the scene all of a sudden. 

One wonders what kind of talk at the dinner table has this man heard while growing up? Or what kind of books did he read in school? Was he perhaps nurtured in the idea that some kind of people – like Indians or Sikhs, Jews or Filipinos or Blacks, Pakistanis or Chinese are unfit and are dispensable?

One can argue that racism springs out of ignorance.

We have schools, churches and media to educate us that there is no scientific nor moral basis on the superiority of one race over another.

There are no easy solutions to the problem of racism and all of us have a role to play.The future of this country depends on how well we respond  to this challenge.

What we wrote on May 17,2020, 30 years later…

Coronavirus spurs racist attacks