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Re: “The struggle of a Muslim woman of colour in Halifax

This is now an old article, but I'd like to respond.

First, Ms Khan, there is value in treating people with the kind of dignity and respect one would seek for oneself.

Being young, you are still apt to consider your experience as somehow specific to you. It is true that when it comes to apportioning labour, supervisors ought to fairly delegate those jobs deemed less pleasant than others, such as cleaning the shop toilet. But merely because your supervisor held it to be so, does not make the job itself, demeaning. Nor does what your father does for a living - business or anything else - make him 'respectable', any more than what any of us does for a living, defines us. Meanwhile, hundreds of people daily scrub and clean toilets everywhere, from the university you are fortunate enough to attend, to the fast food outlets you hyperbolically dismiss as 'everyone's worst nightmare', to medical clinics and hospitals. First, we can all be grateful those people do that job. Second, during your short tenure, you were one of those many. If you want to foster inclusiveness, yo can't just take the self-serving route of promoting inclusion of yourself, your special group. Take time to remember that if it is hard to be a visible minority, it is even harder to be an invisible anything, like those legions of cleaners. Many of whom, unlike you, aren't just in it for a temporary casual job before heading back to university.

Next: we can't always choose those with whom we must converse or contact each day. I suspect in many instances people say what they do, not out of malice but because they aren't very good conversationalists. But even if they intend to be condescending, we can still choose whether we want to take offense. Consider: This province raises a lot of tax revenue off the shellfish industry; many Canadians, including African Canadians, are involved in raising and processing pork; yet as you know, both conservative Islam and Judaism continues to treat these products as 'unclean' (and distinct from beef, even though all biochemical evidence shows the same constituent amino acids to be involved, just in different proportions.) Should I, as a non-Muslim and non-Jew, stiffen in resentment because if I look hard enough, there is an implied insult in such beliefs?

How about 'Wear a Hijab' Day, which was held at the publicly funded HRM library? If you think this was an innocent 'education' campaign, designed to promote community harmony,consider how you'd feel if you encountered a cadre of smiling people urging you to participate in "Eat Pork and Shellfish day" - "You'll love the way ham makes you feel!" You see, Ms Khan, plenty of people put a foot wrong, all whilst ostensibly trying to be helpful. Including those behind that obnoxious campaign, with its implication that something must be tried to be understood, even if not trying it - be it eating pork, or wearing a hijab, might be the whole point for a given individual. Including people like those given the generic category of 'mainstream', who are routinely dismissed as not having any beliefs worth considering.

Time to realize that to err is human, to forgive, even better.

24 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by cmacintosh on 09/26/2016 at 3:06 PM

Re: “Living in fear in my own country

Mr Jha

When someone of my colour gets mugged in Halifax, and robbed of their wallet and their ball cap, it will, at best, make page 17 of the local newspaper. When someone of your faith got mugged in Toronto recently, and robbed of their wallet and their hijab, it made the front pages of the national dailies.

I mention this in order to point out that if it were true that racism explains as much as you claim it does about the world we live in, then we would have to conclude that the disparity in interest shown by the media and, it seems, by you, in Muslim Canadian mugging victims as opposed to non-Muslim Canadian mugging victims is down to racism. As it is, if we avoid doing as you are urging us to do, and cease trying to fit the facts to the most sensational or attention-grabbing theory and seek instead to find the theory that best fits the facts, then we get a more accurate picture of crime and of violence in Canada.

First, the amount of intra-familial domestic violence- or in other words, violence amongst people of the same colour or creed - is what is truly frightening. Muslim families are not exempt from this, as you should know very well. And if you are living in fear in this country, consider that many Canadians of any number of faiths are living in fear of their own spouses and/or other relatives, right in their own homes.

Second. Racist violence is not somehow worse than the 'ordinary' kind if we judge it by lives left financially vulnerable or worse, by lives lost or maimed. Nor is racist violence somehow more sociopathic. The depressing truth is that every mugger, every fraud artist, every perpetrator of crime likes to claim the victim had it coming, or in other words, victims of every colour and faith and creed are blamed by their attackers. The telephone con artist who swindles an elderly woman claims his victim deserved to be cheated because she was 'stupid', or 'could afford to lose the money'. The man who abuses his wife or child will have an army of excuses as to why they were to blame for 'making him angry' and therefore deserving the abuse. In one case I heard of recently, a murderer, upon hearing that his victim died during surgery, actually blamed the emergency room surgeon for his victim's death.

In short, Mr. Jha, crime is not rational, particularly violent crime. Its universality is depressing, but that fact should be uniting us, not dividing us as you are doing.
As for what you imagine people are thinking of you when they take a polite interest in you, remember that wise poem: "When I was young, I worried about what people were thinking of me. When I got older, I said I didn't care about what they were thinking of me. And when I got much older, I realized they were never thinking about me."

I have a suggestion for you: support the City police when they hold community action meetings on crime. Stop promoting associations aimed mainly at promoting the interests only of a limited constituency. And above all, stop seeing someone who looks like me as not just 'other', but someone guilty of a crime before you even bother to know me.

6 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by cmacintosh on 12/22/2015 at 7:41 PM

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