Niki Sharma: An open letter to white Canadians
Dear white Canadians,
When I was a little girl, I remember clearly the first time that I was called a racist name, that moment where I understood that I was not equal. There is a pain in these experiences that stays with you for life. I am sure that every person of colour in Canada has a story like this one.
I used to comfort myself in the myth of multiculturalism, with the belief that most Canadians were not racist. To be honest, over the last few years, this has not provided much comfort.
I am, like many, searching to understand why Tuesday night’s results are having such an impact upon me and other people of colour I know. There is much fear, terror, and deep sadness around me as we hear about the acts of overt racism Americans are now facing.
At this moment, I feel foolish for believing that "equality for all" was near a social consensus that everyone had signed on to. I knew we had our issues in achieving this ideal, but I believed that the majority of Americans would openly condemn the racism, xenophobia, and sexism that were so deeply rooted in Trump’s campaign.
For what it's worth—it looks like a lot of them did, except for White America. This is a realization that has gutted all people of colour and filled them with fear for the future.
I have heard so many attempts at explanation for these votes from America—globalization, inequality, etc. But it should not have been. Their consideration of Trump should have ended at the racist chants at his rallies, at the policies of deportation and discrimination based on race and religion, at the endorsements from the KKK, and so many more things. But it did not.
The world is changing in our midst and now is the time to openly and honestly confront ourselves. If it is true that Canada stands alone as a country where the far right, anti-immigration, fear-based politics have not gained real power—we are living in a dark time. Can we remain this way in the future?
White Canadians, I need to know—how does the Trump victory feel for you?
Is there a part of you that feels empowered by Trump’s win? Do the words now coming out of Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s mouth fall upon your ears? What do you think are “Canadian values”? In your deepest of thoughts and wildest dreams, do you believe that Canada would be better if people like me were not here?
How will you respond now?
I worry that you can too easily find comfort in your privilege and wrap it around you like a blanket to filter out the horror that we feel. That this comfort will allow you to move on and become silent on the terror of Trump’s plan and the voices of racism.
White Canadians, we need to know now—do we have to worry about you? Will you stand with us for a Canada that openly and loudly rejects hate of all kinds? Do you truly believe that no one is equal unless we are all equal?