I ask this question because I am not 100% certain I’m not. In my circle of friends and family, you will find people from different ethnic backgrounds. They would consider me a minority in the building I live. I love walking into my apartment complex to the smells of curry and garlic and to the sounds of children’s laughter.
Many of my neighbors are Muslim and are very polite. In today’s political climate, I would understand if they hid away in their units. But, they don’t and I’m happy about that. If I see anyone in the hallway or in front of the building, I will say hi and engage if possible. I have yet to not receive a response. The women are quiet and reserved, but kids being kids, are rambunctious and outgoing.
It frustrates me to hear people oppose immigration or taking in refugees. Unless you are aboriginal, you have an immigrant as an ancestor. Our roots originate somewhere else.
The reason I question whether or not I am a racist emanates from the time I first lived in Iqaluit. In April 1998, I moved to Iqaluit. The thought of living in the arctic sounded like an adventure to me. I looked forward to experiencing a unique part of my country. The Frobisher Inn hired me as a front desk agent. The job proved hectic some days but; I enjoyed the job more than I imagined.
Except for one member of the front desk team, we all had a lot of laughs and worked well together. I made friends who I still communicate with to this day via Facebook.
Despite meeting some fantastic people, my judgment became blurred when I encountered anger, resentment, and hatred from some Inuit. I understand the reasons behind their rage. White explorers had treated them like shit. No one deserves that kind of conduct towards them. The white man had beaten, abused, and or killed the Inuit because they viewed the northern tribe as subhuman.
During my time in Iqaluit, I faced racism towards me because of the color of my skin although at a minute level compared to those who are not white. It gave me more perspective on their plight. Daily rants of hatred made me think I was racist towards the Inuit. My best friend at time told me if I was, she would not be my friend. With her being biracial, she faced racism from the day one and she would know a racist when she met one. Being in the middle of the negativity, I didn’t have perspective.
hen I wrote my stories based on my time in the arctic did I see I had more good times than bad. I made the mistake of painting the Inuit with one brush. I see that as unfair on my part. I shouldn’t have put a whole group together based on the actions or words of a few.
It’s been twenty years since I first went to Iqaluit and I still believe I may have some residual racist inclinations. It’s not towards the Inuit, but all people. I think it’s because I become frustrated with language barriers and I don’t understand what the other person is saying. It happens to me more on the phone than in person.
I am confident I will get nasty comments on this post and I am prepared for it. But, what I am looking for is honest feedback from those who face racism in all extremes daily.