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Racism is not limited to Prince George

Posted on 22 April 2013

A couple of people have interpreted my post “Prince George is super racist, apparently” as a denial of the existence of racism or as an attempt to minimize the impact of racism in Prince George because it’s not demonstrably worse here than anywhere else. That was not my intention (I thought the line “It exists, and it’s terrible,” established that, but apparently not). So, once again, racism is real, it is harmful, and it should be confronted whenever possible.

My issue was the way in which a newspaper article about a racist incident didn’t stop at reporting on the occurrence of a racist incident. Instead, it widened the scope and settled upon quoting someone saying that Prince George is the most racist and bigoted place he’d ever been in Canada, based on purely subjective experience and without any form of qualification or challenge.

I’m trying to imagine this happening in other circumstances. You can have an article about a car accident without going to a pullquote about someone who thinks drivers here are just the worst- far worse than anywhere else they’ve visited. You can have an article about a murder without portraying the entire city as violent. So why does an article about a racial slur need to have someone call the entire city one of the most racist and bigoted, without qualification?

It would be nice if we could easily conclude Prince George is the most racist city in Canada because someone yelled at protesters and there were racial slurs in a workplace. If we could, it would mean the rest of the country would be havens of tolerance, completely free of even verbal racism. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For example:

My point isn’t to imply that any of these locations have particularly bad race relations compared to the rest of Canada, either. It’s to demonstrate that racism of the sort in the Citizen article (and worse) occurs across the country. Using the methodology of the Citizen/person quoted I could come to the conclusion that each and every one of these places is an outlier, the most racist and bigoted in Canada. More reasonably, I could conclude that it’s a problem not limited by geography, and what’s occurred in Prince George is, sadly, not unique.

Does that make racism OK or diminish the experience of those subjected to it? No.  But drawing the conclusion that Prince George is uniquely bigoted and racist- and publishing a newspaper article that forwards that viewpoint without qualification- not only unfairly tarnishes the city in comparison to others, it fails to acknowledge the extent to which racism exists throughout the country.

Don’t be passive and don’t accept it. But don’t imagine it’s limited to here, either.

Filed under: Prince George

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