Dealing With Racism

How do you go about teaching tolerance? And how do you measure it? Is unconscious bias something that can be nullified? Children are not born prejudiced against people due to hair colour or eye colour or the location & history of the country of their forefathers. Rather, they pick up on unspoken cues and learn prejudice from their parents, friends, authority figures, social media, etc. In a perfect world, people would be tolerant of others and respectful of all cultures and their histories. But this world isn’t perfect and some segments of society are less than respectful of others as evidenced by the rise in hate crimes.  There is a reckoning happening now here in Canada over racial injustice, both past and present. When such injustice is perpetrated and/or perpetuated by governments, it’s up to its citizens to hold the government accountable. While it took decades for the Canadian government to finally formally acknowledge its wrongdoings and injustices insofar as the internment, dispossession and dispersal of JCs was concerned, I doubt any of it would have happened if it weren’t for the polite but dogged determination of all those involved in the Redress movement. A spirit of “gaman suru”. The Isseis who lived the experience are almost all gone now and there are relatively few Niseis left but we must not let time diminish or devalue their experiences. Nowadays, saying “it’s best to leave the past in the past” is a specious argument, at best. We can’t be selective about what constitutes Canadian history. The history of Japanese Canadians in Canada is part of Canadian history, period.


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