What is arguably the largest stereotype of Canada? Some might argue that it is a moose. Others may say that it is maple syrup. However, I would argue that the largest Canadian stereotype is the fact that we are overly polite and nice. When comparing us to our southern neighbors (the USA) it certainly appears as though that is the case. People in Canada constantly hear how offensive, homophobic, and racist Americans are but do not often hear the same about Canada. As a result, we as Canadians tend to think of ourselves as better than Americans in terms of how we act towards other people. So imagine my own surprise when I read an article written by a black person living in Alberta, Canada entitled "This Is What It's Like To Be Black In Alberta".
This article is written to explain this black person's experience in Alberta . At first, I thought it would be an article claiming that in Alberta this person was surprised at how accepting they were. However, right from the second paragraph I knew this wasn't going to be the case. The author states that his friends "warned me about the racism here, but I thought they were exaggerating". After this I became concerned. Canada can't be just as racist as the USA? Can it? As the article continued I was actually extremely disappointed. Not in myself. Not in the author. But in Canada.
We as Canadians often pride ourselves on not being as racist as we think our American neighbors are, but I'm not so sure that is true any more. It amazes me that a stereotype of Canada (that being that we are overly polite) has actually lead the world into believing that Canadians are less racist than Americans. I believe that Canadians are, or at least have the capability of being, just as racist as anyone else in the world. However, for some reason we do not acknowledge this fact. It may sound strange, but I believe that Canadians hold themselves to a standard above Americans because of what we hear of them, making us seem like 'the good guys'. When in reality, we can be just as bad.
In the article, the writer compares Alberta to one of the most known racist American states, Texas. This astounded me because I never thought anywhere in Canada could be compared to Texas in terms of views on race, homophobia, and politics. In Alberta, this person went to a print shop when her computer timed-out and was asked by a white man if she "ran out of money". Really let this sink in. Canada, the worlds biggest stereotype of politeness. The country that likes to bash Donald Trump for being president and America for being excessively racist, is making fun of a black person just because of their colour. So is Canada just as bad as the USA in terms of their views?
People hear of cops being racist in the USA all the time. The "Black Lives Matter" movement has become huge because of this. When you hear about issues like this, I expect the majority of people feel a sense of unpleasantness towards the police that are exercising their power just to be racist. But, once again, the writer of this article points out a situation that seems all to familiar to what people are fighting in the USA. The writer came back to the Edmonton airport after a trip to Barbados and the customs officer asked her if she had taken "a detour to Africa on your way back from Barbados?". Someone that we as Canadians trust to let people of all races into our country flat out asked this person strictly because of skin colour if she took a detour to Africa. Sounds very familiar to some situations occurring in the USA doesn't it?
In the end, I would argue that Canada might be just as bad as the USA in terms of our racist views. I can honestly say that after reading this article, I firmly believe that the stereotype of over-politeness that surrounds Canadians has clouded many people's sight in this respect. If this is happening in Alberta, who's to say it is not happening everywhere in Canada. I am from Toronto and, while it is a...harsh...city to live in, I never thought people in it could be as demeaning to someone just for the colour of their skin. But after reading this article, I'm not so sure anymore.
This Is What It's Like To Be Black In Alberta. (2017, March 23). Retrieved April 01, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/byblackscom/black-in-alberta_b_15563176.html