My Take about Racism

Last week, Canadian prime minister, Dustin Trudeau’s pictures taken 18 years ago were surfaced with his darkened face to imitate Disney movie “Aladdin”. Suddenly it’s found that Trudeau is a racist, and that coloured Canadians suffered for so many years, it’s all because “Trudeau is a racist”. How ridiculers?!

Yes, Trudeau had made a big mistake, it’s his poor judgement. Yes, such pictures showed the precise altitude of ignoring the calculative effect. Yes, the coloured people are suffering for decades due to the racism. As a coloured 1st generation of immigrant to Canada, I condemn the racism, but let’s look at the racism again. It has nothing to do with the election.

I condemn the racism, but…

Racism is not an action, it’s a habit. For some people who are not exposed to other culture or don’t know other people well, they tend to judge, unintentionally, use their own criteria. Some people who are brought up being educated to love their country, may think they are the best among the human race. Some may reach to the conclusion of being the best race based on intellectual or physical capacity or economic status. It’s natural for human to assume so, especially in the past. So if a person claims that he/she is not racist, if he/she knows what he/she is talking about, he/she is a rare special person. Otherwise, do not criticize others to be racists, as if only you are immune to racism.

I condemn the racism, but…

We have made great progress comparing with years ago. I noticed the following changes.

For me, as coloured 1st generation of Canadians, we have the connection with our motherland, like it or not, though we live in this beautiful country. The prosperity of our motherland directly affects how we see ourselves and how other people look at us. For example, Japanese and South Koreans feel relatively less discrimination compared with other Asians because GDP in these countries is high comparable to those developed countries. China develops so fast, not only it become 2nd economic power house in the world, but also it directly challenges USA. Recently Huawei’s new 5G technology is an example, no disputable.

From personal perspective, we have done something also to accelerate the equality. In the university where I worked (Faculty of Engineering), the majority of the faculty member is non-Canadian born. In other faculties and universities, even in states, I suspect the situation is the same. I remember one year I was in the search committee of the Department of Mathematics to hire a junior professor, as usual, we had a talk from Human Recourse to remind us the minority of the faculty member candidates. One white professor semi-joked that the minority in math department was Caucasians.

Many outstanding individuals have made the coloured people visible and proud. Consider lung cancer experts as the example, Dr. Alice Shaw, a Chinese descent, Dr. Hossein Borghaei, an Iranian, Dr. Stephen Liu, a Chinese, Drs. Ishwaria & Vivek Subbiah, Indians, Dr. Bishal Gyawali, a Nepalese, Dr. Gilberto Lopes, a Brazilian, etc. Talk about racism on these people-your life is in their hand. Also I noticed that Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC/Radio-Canada) did a very good job in that they have so many coloured news anchors to show the diversity.

To me, this is the only way to gain other people’s respect. Otherwise, we are begging the equality.

I condemn the racism, but…

Racists are often meant white people. How about coloured people? Coloured people are not immune to racism. They are further divided based on region, colours, religions, race, and the discriminations are obvious among ourselves. It’s sad that people who are discriminated, discriminate others.

In summary, it’s imperative to realize the existence of racism and to keep changing it. However, racism is not an action, it’s a habit. It takes a long time to change how people think. We cannot put blame on one person or a group of people. Collectively we have to change the culture, forgive but learn from it.


My friend HaoPei (斐皓) is a Stage 4 lung cancer patient, 37 years old. This picture was taken by him when he traveled in rural China after his diagnosis. I’m grateful for HaoPei’s generosity.

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