Wednesday, September 11, 2013
What is "White" these days?
The latest cacophony of journalist pundits, columnists, editors, clamouring the instant resignation of MLA Eric Robinson for having the audacity to inscribe “do good white people” in reply to Barbra Judt’s ill-advised fundraising attempt; is hypocritical.
The email in question raises more than one issue. On a point of order, the term used by Robinson “do good white people” is not a racist comment; it is a prejudicial comment. I find that in this instance the term “racist” to be improper.
Wayne Craig’s remark in the Winnipeg Free Press on in the September 7th edition is quite succinct, “…The fact remains that a senior member of Her Majesty’s government made a value judgement based on a racial stereotype and committed it to writing.” On that issue, we can all agree that what Robinson wrote is indeed prejudicial.
If a “Caucasian” member of Manitoba’s Legislative elected representative in the House had made such a statement, the demand for his or her immediate resignation would have been called upon from indigenous political groups in Manitoba. I must say, if we transcribe the word “white” with “Indian” under similar outcomes such arguments are valid.
Again, I think that we are losing sight of the forest for the tree. Robinson’s remarks were clearly prejudicial; does it in fact merit dismissal? If we are to ascribe to the rules of fair play, the answer is yes. After all ascribing a double standard in this case is not beneficial; it furthers the argument that regardless of what is being said or done by an indigenous person in politics is beyond questioning.
Such reasoning is lacking perspective, in today’s reality. There is a piece missing. Canadians of “Caucasian” ancestry are to dismissive, they forget to easily, they do not want to admit that the current structures in place when dealing with indigenous issues are not working. These structures are fact based on racially, documented government policies aimed at assimilating a race based ethnic group on Canadian soil. It is still occurring to this day, the undercurrent is unmistakable.
The litanies of racially motivated federal government programs are indisputable; it is a matter of public record. Which brings me to the missing piece, if we are to purposely jump every time an indigenous person (elected or not) feels like using the term “white” instead of using the term “Caucasian” in describing the actions of people who are making decisions on behalf of indigenous peoples; we have a long way to go.
Let me be clear, presently, Canadians of Caucasian ancestry do not like to be called “white”, “settler ally”, “colonialists”, or any other term which implies having dominion over another ethnic race. They shaft at the thought of having to endure the consequences of past and present federal government policies regarding indigenous people.
They want none of it; they do not want their taxpayers money used in continuing a separate class of citizens.
They are wary of having to hear how Treaty agreements are still not honored, how unjust it is for indigenous people to continue to claim that Canada still owes them indemnities.
They argue the statute of limitation, they use the rational that issues of the past cannot ever be concluded in a satisfactory manner in which will bring peace and harmony between indigenous and Caucasian Canadians. They are convinced that it is time for indigenous people to embrace their ethnicity in conjunction with being Canadian first.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth generation “white” Canadians no longer accept the constant barrage being said and written by the likes of the Pamela Palmater’s and the Derek Nepinak’s so on and so forth, stating that “they” are morally and financially responsible to correct any and all misdeeds of the past.
Canadians of Caucasian descent are beginning to fashion their own identities. They no longer ascribe to the “mother land” mentality any longer. They no longer identify with their European roots; all that remains is the color of their skin.
In accordance, when Robinson attributed the prejudicial comment of “do good white people” in describing Judt’s stupidity, it triggered a feeling among Canadians that Robinson using the term “white” to be equally offensive in their view- racist even.
This latest incident demonstrates that there is still a lot of work to do. We have an ethnic indigenous population, which continue to feel marginalized, ostracized, not taken seriously. They are of the opinion that forcing them to become “Canadian” at all, never mind first-is continuing to ignore the fact that they should not be forced to choose at all.
It is their collective opinion that a blanket apology is not sufficient; there needs to be significant profit sharing structures of natural resources on First Nations land.
Indigenous groups living on reserves in Canada, believe that the responsibility to develop such resources to be that of domestic and international companies, and Canadian governmental entities. It is they that need to absorb the majority of the operational costs of any future development on First Nations land. It is their understanding that this is the price to pay in order to balance the scales of justice.
This is not the view shared by the majority of non-indigenous people of varied ethnic backgrounds living in this country. Some Canadians do believe that some kind of recitative process in regards to First Nations still needs to occur. Most feel that enough money and resources are in place to address these issues.
Robinson’s comment triggered an avalanche. Imagine what the Conservative government agenda for First Nations under Prime Minister Harper will trigger. Idle No More is but a taste of what is to come, if we continue to ignore the major prejudices and racial assimilation policies that continue to plague this country.