The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada called me names today. She said in a press release that white people are dangerous, very dangerous and something must be done about us. I must admit I am guilty of being VERY white, on the scale of white. I burn and peel at least once a season, and there is not one black hair left on my head. I have at times contemplated being the Man from Glad for Halloween, because I would not require much of a costume at all. I would just have to wear a white coat, apply some hair spray, and carry around a box of sandwich bags.
I was a bit chaffed about the honourable lady’s remarks because she does not know me, what I think, where I go, or what I do in my private time. She doesn’t know what I love or why. She certainly doesn’t know what I don’t like, although she herself is in danger of making the list.
It’s not just the leaders sounding the alarm. I tapped into Linked In where an unconscious racial bias course was offered. For a price, I could signal to friends and colleagues that I may think things I never thought I thought, because someone else told me so. I must confess, I have not read the book on White Fragility, nor do I plan to. I can get an on-the-street assessment of the way things are simply by stepping outside the door.
I went to Tim Horton’s this morning and I got Me-Too’ed. Specifically, I got “Hon’ed” The lady behind the county affably referred to me as “Hon” while taking my order, and before I was done, had also called me “Sweetie” and “Love”. I have to admit I did not mind. The lady was a little older than middle aged, and also very white. Despite being of humble estate and long all day on her feet, she seemed in quite a cheery mood. She did not look dangerous and I don’t think she meant anything in the wrong way. She probably doesn’t know what politically correct means, and me, I will take all the “Hon’s” I can get these days because otherwise I am on the list of undesirables.
Just an evening watching TV these days will confirm I am presently the wrong colour. I only recently learned what IPOC was because my kids explained the situation in the commercials to me. I might be a poster boy for ill repute. In the very least I am out of date with the times. I am aging, I have white hair that can look like a dandelion when it’s windy, I have a belly that gets harder to hone down with every decade. My arms are covered with liver spots and I am getting unruly eyebrow and nose hair that I never had to deal with before. Worse than that, I am straight, Christian, and a man. In this particular point in time you could not pull a worse card from the deck.
But going through my day I am further assured despite alarming messages from our leaders, that all is well. I went to a falafel joint and the man in front of me, was dressed in some kind of tradesman outfit and apparently a regular. He is what some people call a hoser, a pretty normal Canadian and very white. He is the kind of person the Deputy Prime Minister is alarmed about. Still, when he paid, I note he tipped even though it was over the counter service. He told the proprietor he was sure the food would be “as good as usual” and he also called the gentleman “Sir” even though I am sure the man behind the counter is from a far away place and of a different religion.
I ride home on my bike. At the intersections people give me a wave to let me know that they see me. They give me the right of way. They are remarkably civil. It’s a fairly Canadian thing, and it’s behaviour deeply ingrained on the population with or without the the gratuitous interference of a politician who doesn’t know this world but comments on it anyway.
My assessment of things is that the Deputy Prime Minister might be jumping the gun in labeling regular Canadians as dangerous. She might suffer from a credibility deficit if she does not tone down her words a bit. My take on all those regular people out there, is that they are in fact, pretty regular. They are not planning anything nefarious, and they are pretty affable to most people who are friendly, work, and don’t do anything illegal.
I looked up the stats on racism just to be sure. It seemed that in accordance with what I see on the street, things are in fact pretty calm here when viewed through the prism of the world. We all get along pretty well. We might even be beacon to all the world for the way things should be. I am unsure why those in charge feel so compelled to judge those of us they do not know. Perhaps she is scoring political points. At best it is irresponsible, and uncharitable.
As a result of all this I am feeling a little WASP-ish. It is true. I am a white Anglo Saxon Protestant and there’s not much I can do except lament my unpopular moment in history. And as for our deputy PM, she is sounding quite out of touch and can I say, uppity?