In light of recent political and civil violence happening to the south of our border, I can’t help but think about the immigrant experience in Canada. The irony of it is having to scroll through TikTok and watching all these white Canadians proud of the fact that “we nice” Canadians are not racist like “those Americans,” -we/those- excellent word choice. Note the sarcasm.
Watching those TikToks was painful. Their ignorance, privilege, and fragility plastered all over the internet, to say the least, was ironic. Canada is just as racist, if not more so than America, but they have never experienced it because of their skin color. All they see are boards, posters, and press releases of companies that claim to have a diverse workforce. In reality, they are using their token Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic/Latin employees to win public approval. These white Canadian TikTokers seemingly have never questioned it. It is clear why.
Having watched those TikToks, I wondered, like many other immigrants, migrants, and refugees – or whatever term that is being used to describe us now – “why do people demonize and dehumanize us for simply wanting to live and raise our families in a safe environment?”
What’s worse, however, is when they welcome us but refuse to see our humanity. They are only willing to accept us based on what we can provide for them and their nation. The tweet below encapsulates what I mean entirely.
The Economic Value Of Immigrants
“We need more immigration to balance the ageing pop,” That is all we are, a replacement for the dead and the dying. This tweet is one of many. People often say a derivative of “I don’t like immigration, but I understand the value it has on our economy.” Though not all, many Canadians see our arrival as purposeful, they expect us to serve or satisfy a need that they cannot fulfil in their nation. Our pain, our struggle, our loss are synthesized into one Canadian purpose. For Mr. B up there, it is balancing the aging population.
This belief, however, is not just held by individual everyday Canadians. It has become institutionalized, with Canadian CEOs and government officials promoting it. It is ingrained in the very nature of Canadian society. For example, the CEO of Century Initiative, Lisa Lalande, said,
Furthermore, in a statement to Reuters, Canada’s Immigration Minister said, “It paints a vision for the future where we see immigration as one of the keys to our economic recovery and our long-term prosperity.” He also claims, “the plan today helps us to make up for the disruption that has been caused by COVID-19 in 2020.” He is mentioning Canada’s new and improved immigrant “targets.”
Targets they are, indeed. We come in, and we solve their issues, all while experiencing hatred, racism, and prejudice. And when we speak out about it, we are gaslighted. Much like, Hadiya Rodrique, we hear things like “‘That’s probably not what they meant’ or ‘Are you sure you’re not being too sensitive?'” when we report and talk about situations where we felt like we were being discriminated against.
Referring to immigrants in terms of our “economic value” is a type of polite racism. This might shock some of you because, historically speaking, Canadians were not portrayed or perceived to be “as bad as” Americans.
But it would be best if you remembered that racism is not always visible. Polite racism can be just as suffocating. I believe the use of such rhetoric shines a light on much larger concerns since their inability to see us as human beings is rooted in racism.