4 stories of Vancouverites overcoming racism

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We recently released an article encouraging our readers to Raise Their Hands Against Racism and to share their own stories about how they overcame racism in the hopes to stop racism once and for all.

Below are stories from some of our very courageous readers. Thank you for your stories and allowing us to share them with fellow Vancity Buzz readers.

Jshandeep J.

When I was in elementary school, I was bullied by the other children for being Punjabi. They’d call me a curry monster, bindi dot or a dipper. I’d usually laugh it off and never really felt it bothered me. Eventually, one day I broke down during a class meeting where my teacher helped me realize it was wrong. I was one of the few Punjabi people in my school so I always felt I had to fit in because my cultural norms were different than others’ norms.

Coming to high school, I had overcome that little speed bump in my life and now I’m part of many school committees that promote kindness and acceptance. One of my little ideas came to life and became a big one. I had the idea to create an event called the “We Are Love Festival” which would promote anti-bullying in the community. With the help of many dedicated committee members, I accomplished that and this year on March 6, we are having our second (now annual) festival!

Anni C.

This is my two cents: My family moved to Canada when I just turned 16. Most people would say that it is not easy to live abroad nor learn a new language at that age. I am not going to lie – it was challenging especially when Vancouver has the highest population of Asian immigrants. Throughout my journey of adapting to my new home, I have countered several people who made racist comments towards my family and me. Some might have been accidental while some might have been intentional. At the time, either was harmful to us. Getting mad seems to be the right way to respond to those comments, but we continue to try harder in learning about the Canadian culture and language itself. Racism is not right, but I think we sometimes need to stop and ask ourselves how hard we have tried to be part of this community we live in. It takes generations to educate individuals about respecting other’s cultures. Reacting to any racist comment negatively only worsens the situation.

Melissa F.

I am Caucasian and currently 27 years old. I grew up in East Vancouver and went to an elementary school whose population was mostly Asian (I think there were a whole 4 Caucasian kids in my grades growing up). The Asian kids would make fun of me because I had super white blonde curly hair. I went home one day in grade 1 (I remember this like it was yesterday) and I was so upset that the kids made fun of my hair, and I didn’t want to be different, that I took my moms sharpee pen and tried to colour my blonde hair black. My poor mother was distraught over me doing this, I can remember her slightly trying to hide her tears.
I wasn’t invited to play dates or birthday parties because the Asian parents wanted there kids to play with other Asian kids…

High School wasn’t any better, the majority of the kids were East Indian. Heaven forbid an East Indian kid brought home a white friend- because of course I was white so I was into drugs and sex and the parents didn’t want there kids around that (nice stereotype).

I was always the outsider and never felt welcome wherever I was… because of my skin color, for being “white” when the majority of the lower mainland people are of mixed races.

I work at a preschool now. I make sure that the kids accept others for there differences… it’s okay to point out that “Bobby” has black hair and dark skin and “Sarah” has red hair and freckles skin, but it is NOT okay to ever make fun of anyone’s appearance or exclude them because of this!

My fiancé is Cambodian, people still in 2015 make comments about how I should have married a white guy…why? why does his skin color or his ethnicity background being different than mine mean anything to anyone? He is a person, his heart beats, he has feelings- it’s 2015 and it’s time for people to forget skin colour and see people for what they are- people!!!

Alex Sami

From Abbotsford, British Columbia to Wyoming. From roughly 3 million people to a town of 600. From a place flourishing with diversity to a place almost void of it. I never once remember thinking about race or encountering it as an issue before. But once I was displaced from my home in Canada and into a completely foreign environment in the US, I soon came face-to-face with this ugly beast we call “racism.” This is my story of my experiences with racial discrimination.

It is essential to know my backstory before I get into my experience with racism. So bear with me… for the first 11 years of my life, I had it pretty good. Well, if you consider staying long hours at day-cares and forfeiting some luxuries that normal kids would have because you are being raised by a single mother who is juggling work and school to be good, then I had it “good.” My father was in my life for a brief period of time, but removed himself when I was five years old because he couldn’t “hold his temper” with my mother. Unfortunately you can imagine what happened… he not only left me, but also my two younger siblings and my mother. Luckily, our mother rivals that of any other because of her selflessness and fierce love for her kids. Like that of a mother grizzly bear with her cubs. I always like thinking of it that way for some reason. And it is because of her that we survived the circumstances that life put us in. My mother is white, and she encountered a lot of racism from my father’s side of the family. They refused to teach her how to cook Fijian style dishes, and also looked down on her. My mom also recalls other strangers who would give her bad looks because she was hauling three Fijian kids around. I can only imagine the struggles she faced in that aspect let alone being single.

I grew up playing hockey just like any other Canadian kid. I truly did take it as a right of passage. I also took on the occasional soccer and basketball seasons when they came around. I never remember thinking about the fact that I didn’t have my dad around and I credit that to how tireless my mother worked to give us a normal childhood; it kept me distracted from that reality. The point I’m trying to make here is that I was like any other Canadian kid growing up. A half Fijian and half Scottish child ambitious like anyone else. But this would all change come the year of 2004.

Read full story here


 

The social media campaign #HandsAgainstRacism launched on Saturday and saw various locations around Metro Vancouver, hosted by Spice Radio, that invited individuals to put their colourful handprint and sign the anti-racism banners.

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Harpreet Shergill is the Community Manager at Vancity Buzz and your guide for community events.
@HarpShergill

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