Canada: Identity Politics

Just As All Africans Are Not Black, Not All West-Indians Are Black

In Canada, the 1960s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 served as the political touchstone of multiculturalism.

Since then, Canadians (especially its political class) apparently like to tout that the country is multicultural; and this, multiculturalism (as an ideology) is frequently held aloft to emphasise the importance that the government places on the integration of immigrant cultures within the nation’s boundaries.

However, before Canada began preening about its multi-cultural credentials numerous countries around the globe had already been been deeply multicultural. Examples abound: Jamaica, Argentina, Chad, Cameroon, Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nigeria, Togo, Mexico, Peru, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Venezuela, Australia, Philippines, Barbados, Grenada, Portugal ….

Having emigrated to Canada in the early 1970s from a country that was (is) multicultural, I can assure you that Canada’s embrace of  multiculturalism was not unique as it was made out to be. Then, as it is today, it was merely virtue-signalling, a political ploy to be seen (or thought of) as being politically progressive.

Quibbling about whether or not Canada is a multicultural country is, to a point, truly a navel-gazing exercise. Canada, today, is multicultural – to the extent that various cultures do exist within its borders. That multiculturalism is largely evident within its larger cities and suburban areas.

I point all of the above out since it often occurs to me, as a black person living in Canada’s largest city, Toronto (population of approximately 6 million), that affirming that one is Black is often seen as making a political statement (this is especially true of black Americans; and to a lesser extent, black Canadians).

For me, stating that I’m black is merely an affirmation of my obvious ancestral negroid features and skin colour.

Before the use of the term bi-racial became the common-place label among the social/political ‘progressives’ and culturally ‘woke’ I was simply multi-racial. That is a description of myself that I wholly embrace since my racial background (family tree) includes caucasian, chinese,  east-indian and negro.

So, it’s often with bemusement that I observe the contortions of Canadian politicians and other public figures who claim to embrace multiculturalism as they strive to garner political support from the Italians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Latinos, Philipinos and Arabic/Middle-Eastern ethnic voting blocks. Note: these are  clearly ethnic nationals.

The Black vs The White Votes: When did Black become a nationality?

All Africans are not Black. Similarly, not all West-Indians are Black.

Yet, the very same progressive politicians and public figures that natter on-and-on about the Black community When speaking about crime, gang violence or other social issues lump blacks as a political block around times of elections. The Black Community, as a composite of Africans/Caribbean/West-Indians, do not reside in enclaves around the country/city. I can visit Greek-town, Chinese-town, Little-Italy, the French-quarter, etc. Is there a black-town that I’m not aware of?

We repeatedly hear politicians talk about going after the Chinese/Italian/French/East-Indian/Filipino or Asian votes. But what we don’t hear is them soliciting the multicultural African, Carribean/West-Indian voters. Instead they become The Black votes. How often do We hear of  special campaign appeals targeted at the White Community?

Are we to assume that white voting choices are taken for granted?

Perhaps, it’s okay to speak of the Black Community but politically insensitive to refer to the White/caucasian communitiy in multicultural Canada? Or, perhaps, I’ve become over-sensitive to the identity-politics that now submerges us all.

Black lives matter. Sure. What about the lives of those of other colours? I’m sure that south-Asians (the Brown-ones) and those of mixed-races must have something to say about that as well.

Surely, there is something incongruous, if not farcical, about our public figures and institutions wrapping themselves in the shibolets of multicultralism while simultaneously promoting ethnic divisions and identity for political purposes.

For the uninformed (or willfully ignorant), the region of the West-Indies/Caribbean, for example, consists of people who are descendants of  African, Arabic, South-Asian (indians/Pakistani/Tamil), Jewish, East-Asians (Chinese/Japanese), English, French, German, Irish, Lebanese,  Portuguese, Scottish, Spanish, Welsh, Greek, Dutch, etc. Most importantly, they don’t refer to themselves as Blacks. They see themselves as being either Barbadian, Antiguan, Trinidadian, Jamaican, Grenadian, etc.

To each, identity is entwined with their country of birth, not merely the colour of their skin or ethnicity. The same applies to Africans. To mis-identify a Nigerian for a Congolese can be tantamount to calling a Welshman a Scottman or an Irishman a Brit.

Yet, here in Canada – the self-appointed wellspring of multicultural awareness – we allow the politicians, progressives and other social engineers (aided and abetted by mainstream media sources) to divide us as Canadians through divisive identity politics.

Trinidadian by birth. Canadian by choice.

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