Explicit Racism: A Thing of the Past (or we thought so)
by Laf on October 19, 2016 - 8:00pm
Nowadays, it is rather unusual for me to experience or see some explicitly racist actions. Implicit racism is the more common type that I witness, such as when someone decides to stay standing up in the bus instead of sitting down next to a “Black” person. Yet, for Alrick Bowen, explicit racism was what he had to undergo for many years before his case went in front of the tribunal.
A month after he started to work in the parks department of the city of Pointe-Claire, Alrick Bowen was the victim of some explicit racism led by his peers. Racial slurs to physical aggression, Bowen endured a lot of discrimination at work due to the dark color of his skin. As he explains to CBC News, this constant racism affected every aspect of his life, from his quality of life to his relationships, his family and his level of happiness. He received threats from his “bullies” concerning his job, saying that if he complained he would just be ignored and would lose his opportunity of becoming a permanent employee. Since Bowen had two young kids and a wife to support financially, he did not do much about it at first. However, in 2014 he hired a lawyer, and in 2015 he got the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) involved. Fo Niemi, the executive director of the CRARR, says that this kind of racism is usually infrequent in Pointe-Claire as the West-Island is multi-racial. Anyhow, after having forced it by getting the CRARR to contact the city, an investigation was led to verify Bowen’s harassment allegations, but sadly they were not proven in court. However, his duties were changed in order to help him avoid being in a similar situation again.
During my reading of this news article, the first thing that caught my attention was the title, Accusations made of systematic racism in Pointe-Claire. If I base my opinion on what we have seen in class, I would agree that there is some sort of systematic racism in the lack of actions taken by the city to stop this, but that the racism claimed here is mainly some individual and explicit racism led by the “bullies”. Apart from this nuance, the author of the article used the right terms to describe the situation. Furthermore, the article gave many details concerning the outcomes of racism on an individual, for instance when Bowen enumerated the numerous aspects of his life that were negatively affected by the racist actions he experienced. I now understand more about the feeling of helplessness that is caused by racism, and the fact that our society might still be unsure on how to handle a case of racism that is brought to justice as it is a very touchy issue that affects millions of people across the world.
To conclude, as a “White” woman, I have not been in many situations where I feel like I am part of the minority, and this article helped me see the perspective of someone that constantly is.