Am I A Racist?

To answer the question plainly:  I'd like to hope not.  I certainly try not to be.  I'm far from perfect and I'm positively certain I've said and done things that are racist.  But the important part is that I make efforts to avoid doing the same in the future.

I find that most racism is rooted in ignorance.  The more you know about a person or group of persons the less likely you are to make ill informed generalizations about them.  Or worse, believe and act on them.  Personally, I like learning about different cultures and religions.  It's helps me to understand people better and the motives behind their actions and words. 

I think we've all fallen short of being understanding and sensitive to each others cultures, religions, and skin colours.  I've even experienced reverse racism, where people who have had to endure racism turn around and do the exact same thing to me.  In the spoken word scene I've seen ALOT of this reverse hatred.  Women who've been abused by a man hating on ALL men.  Visual minorities who are marginalized by society that gives preferential treatment to white males then hating on ALL white males.  And then people who have been unjustly treated by a person in some form of authority now hating on ALL authority figures. 

"The Man" is a term used to describe all those groups.  Now, AS a white male, I don't ,can't, and have no way to fully understand depth to which being helplessly raped by a man I trust, being deemed a secondary citizen just because of my sex, religion, or skin colour, or being traded, hated, & killed because of the colour of my skin would affect someone.  But just because I fit the "general description" of the person(s) who violated you doesn't give you the right to violate or hate on me.  I did what any other slammer would do, I wrote a spoken word piece about it called Punctuated Hate For The Man.

But even still some people get it twisted.  Calling people racist when they don't seem to even know what the word means.  Just making sweeping generalizations because the person fits the general description of "the man".  Calling someone racist for speaking out AGAINST ignorance.  Saying someone is trying to control them by simply voicing their opinion.  Calling somone ignorant of slavery while acting as if it has only ever happened to black people.  Saying they are being oppressed, assaulted, and violated just because it happens to be a white person who disagrees with them.  Who is REALLY the racist?

If voicing your disagreement with someones views in a private respectful way and then being motivated by those views to take a stand against ignorance makes me a racist, then please PLEASE call me one too and I will wear the title proudly.


Flag Etiquette

"World Cup Flags" Haiku

Car window flags plus
Ignorant soccer fans
Poor flag ettiquette
I'll admit I'm not much of a soccer (football) fan. It involves lots of running (which I'm OBVIOUSLY not into) and is largely a scoreless game. In fact, I'm not much into sports on a whole. I do enjoy watching football (live or televised, NFL or CFL) and hockey (as long as I'm actually THERE), but I don't schedule my life around it nor do I make it a priority.

But I do understand the passion many fans have for their teams. Sometimes to an extreme, like football fans in December painting letters on their torso while attending an outdoor game. So when it comes a competition like World Cup soccer the emotions are even higher. Not only are they excited about their team, but now their national pride is on the line too.

Let's face it, the World Cup is truly a global event, with so many countries competing and watching. It's understandable that World Cup is a big deal to many Canadians since we are a very multicultural society. People are changing their lives so they can watch their favourite games. The city has changed the liqour laws to accommodate fans. I've seen many people take time off work, come in early, & stay late so they can watch a game. My wife, who works in child care, sees entire families wearing the jersey of their favourite team and/or country of origin/heritage. Look around any parking lot these days and you would think we are being invaded by foreign dignitaries. What with all the flags on peoples cars.

But here is my problem, there is a proper etiquette when it comes to flying flags in Canada. In fact, many countries make flag etiquette a law. The basic rules are that if you want to fly the flag of another country you must also fly the flag of the country you are in and fly it in a position of honour (highest or on the left).

It's a simple thing to do & most Canadians are proud to fly their flag. I know this because every Canada Day I see the Canadian car flags all over the place. So what does it take to pull it out a little early? Or buy one from the guy selling them out of the back of his van at the side of the road or in the parking lot? Especially when we've already spent so much on jerseys, parties, drinks, and even time off from work.

Now this is just etiquette. There is no flag law in Canada. Even in the U.S., where flag etiquette IS the law, there is no penalty for failure to comply with it. Demanding or forcing people to abide by it would be both silly and unconstitutional (violating the right to free speech). But it really just boils down to a matter of respect that requires a bare minimum of effort and cost.

So family, friends, & soccer fans,
If you're flying the flag of another country please also fly the Canadian flag.
Because, let's face it, being polite is the Canadian thing to do!