Yesterday, I encountered racism, so I decided to write about it because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
Yesterday, I encountered racism and I was shocked as if it was the first time I had ever lived it, but then I wondered why I surprised. It wasn’t the first time, but God knows just how many times.
Yesterday, I encountered racism and it reminded me of all the other times it happened to me since I was a kid. It happened to my parents more times than it happened to me, but I’m slowly catching up on the number of times.
Yesterday, my parents and I decided to grab coffee at McDonald’s by the drive-through. Turns out we took the wrong lane and this (white) guy behind us, from his car, claims that we took his place and that we cut the line.He arrived after us. We told him that we didn’t know since we are not from here (and by that we meant, “we are not from Casselman [but we are Canadians]”). He spit out ignorance, saying, “I can tell!” and moved his car forward as if to hit ours (in order to scare us). Then the woman next to him, on the passenger seat, took out her phone to pictures of us and our car. What are you going to do, I thought. Call the police. Tell them we look like illegal refugees whom you can tell from your uneducated eyes that are not from here. But I can tell you didn’t go to school or passed your history class because if you did, you would’ve known that you don’t come here either. This land belongs to the First Nations, not to white people.
Today, I remember the time before that when there was this white man and his wife who threw at us a Tim Hortons cup, while we were driving. It hit the car so hard I thought the window broke in pieces. And you think these things don’t happen because we live in Canada.
Today, I’ve come to accept that, because of my skin colour, I am not allowed to make mistakes. I am not allowed to take a wrong turn or change lanes and exceed a car. I’ve come to accept that I’ll always be perceived as inferior, as a criminal, or as a nobody because the colour of my skin. I’m reminded every day that a white person can get away with white privilege the same way a politician can get away with fraud.
Today, I pray to God to forgive me because I couldn’t help myself, but yell, “You’re racist!” Like I thought he’d be ashamed if I called him out. It’s hard to be a Christian nowadays. Real hard. I forgot, in the heat of the moment, that I was supposed to love my enemy. I failed to realize that situation was offering me humility. I could’ve been a light to a scarred soul.
Today, I keep asking myself why it happened. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Although we were separated by cars, I can still feel the spit of his “I can tell!” Maybe the reason is simply that the coffee I would’ve bought could’ve hurt my tummy. Or maybe the reason was to see the anger and loneliness and his eyes and put myself in his shoes and ultimately, feel a glimpse of compassion or empathy.
In my case, when I got home I found love, peace, and joy. But I wondered, with this attitude, what would he find? I can’t say for sure. Maybe meaningless friends to whom he’ll say something like, “You won’t believe what I saw today: immigrants thinking this land is theirs!” Or maybe nothing. Nothing at all.