While I would never discourage anyone from standing up for what they believe I have a request for the Antifa headed for Québec city. Could you give some consideration to the following. -When you commit random violence you play directly into the hands of the state. They own violence. You permit the mainstream narrative […]
January 2016 Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News
I’m a CBC fan since forever. I started listening to Radio One programs when Peter Gzowski hosted Morningside and you could hear him chain-smoking in the studio. When I started watching CBC TV we had rabbit ears for tuning in black and white hockey games. At that point programming hours would finish then the screen would revert to a test pattern of the head of an Aboriginal Chief.
As my life has progressed and society has changed, so has the CBC—to some degree. I’m the first person to sing the praises of all the journalists and foreign correspondents, and in general I’m proud of its high-quality programming and documentaries. Our national broadcaster is critically acclaimed worldwide.
The mothership, as it’s affectionately called, is showing its age. If I hear Peter Mansbridge or Wendy Mesley use the phrase “visible minority” on the nightly National news one more time when referring to non-white people I may have a stroke. Those two words reveal much about white privilege and blind spots. There has never been a homogenous majority in this country and when I hear visible minority I want to yell at the TV: As compared to what, the invisible majority?!
CBC discussion panels showcase this problem further. When Mansbridge or Mesley gather their pundits, you can bet they’re all white. Another news program that really needs an overhaul is Power and Politics. Day after day, month after month, predictable white pundits give their predictable opinions on the important matters of the day. In the weeks after the Paris terror attacks Power and Politics ran daily segments about terrorism and the Middle East which did little more than stoke fear. Why didn’t the program include any Muslim Canadian pundits in those discussions? Why were the experts in Middle Eastern culture all white? Watching that program makes me think the CBC has forgotten about balanced reporting, not to mention irony.
And if this diversity-avoidance is allowed to continue, how soon before the CBC loses its ability to become relevant to younger generations? If the CBC wants to keep the interest and attention of Canadian viewers—and by extension the political will to fund its continued existence—then it needs to look and sound like the real Canada.
Younger generations are more informed because they’ve grown up with that thing called the Internet. They know way more about the world than my generation ever did. They’re media savvy, privilege savvy, race savvy, everything savvy, and they’re not going to accept phrases like visible minority or panels of all-white sparkle ponies trotting out their all-white expertise. If the CBC isn’t evolving as fast as it should because it’s afraid of alienating its base of long-term Boomer generation supporters like me, they can breathe easy. We’re along for the ride until the very end. And we’re eager to see the end of embarrassing old media and its sanitized, whitewashed perspectives. Time to get with it, CBC, because it’s 2016.
This week the CBC took an unprecedented step to close its online comments section after a story about a First Nations issue generated an incredible amount of racist vitriol, the most vitriol, in fact, of any subject the nation’s broadcaster tackles. I wish I had taken a screen shot of the comments before they were taken down. They were appalling. When I weighed in with my comment that First Nations issues—the facts and their historical context—need to be included in grade school programs across the land, lest another generation of ignorant bullies gets their information from older ignorant bullies, my comment provoked a reply from an anonymous racist who spewed ALL CAPS INVECTIVE in my direction. It was pleasant.
When a nation hides/ignores/avoids its ugly history it leaves gaps in the collective identity, gaps too often spiked with venom or what James Baldwin called “the vindictiveness of the guilty”. Canada has built a cherished myth around the successful, tolerant, multi-cultural mosaic and while the myth is true to some degree, it’s hardly the full story. As I’ve written previously, there’s an elephant in the room and if this country is to fully mature, it will have to accept and humble itself before the truth of the near-genocide of First Nations people.
But back to the CBC shutting down its online comments section. Hatred is to commentary what coughing is to flu season—it doesn’t take long before everybody is sick with it, and sick of it.
…Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School. A memoir by Chief Bev Sellars
Canada, like every country on earth, has its share of dirty secrets and there’s no dirtier secret than its maltreatment of First Nations peoples for several hundred years. Just like the family with the proverbial elephant in the room, without an understanding of historical, colonialist oppression, our nation will remain dysfunctional and our maturity will be blocked. It’s shameful that even today, in 2015, so many Canadians have a racist view of Aboriginals. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose, given that we still live in a world dominated by white guys doing it by themselves. Nevertheless, there’s a growing sense that it’s time to cease our collective ignorance and Bev Sellar’s extraordinary memoir, They Called Me Number One, would be an effective way to begin that process.
July Op-Ed for Bridge River Lillooet News
Recently, I emailed a criticism to a CBC radio show. While conducting an interview the host learned that slaves had been sold to buy molasses for the making of rum. Instead of the host commenting, she ignored it and kept the interview flowing along in the nice, polite manner for which she’s well known. I was shocked.
June Op-Ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News
The Truth and Reconciliation commission just ended and now the government must follow through with its recommendations. Top of the list should be making it mandatory that the history of residential schools is taught in grade school curriculum.
Two weeks ago I was in a Fraser Valley classroom and the teacher asked the students (all non-Native), whose ages ranged from 19 to 25, if the history of residential schools should be taught in schools. Of the ten students, two said yes, eight said variations of no. “They get enough handouts already,” one student said and the rest agreed, parroting what they’ve heard many times before from people just as ignorant. Further discussion revealed the students had little or no actual knowledge of residential schools, let alone the horrors that occurred inside them or the terrible repercussions that ensued.
April 2015 Op-ed Vocal Local column for the Bridge River Lillooet News
When Chinese labourers were brought to the west coast in the 1880s by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to work on construction, they were paid one third the wages of other workers and sent into the most dangerous situations. Thousands lost their lives. Then for ensuing decades, they were treated terribly; federal and provincial governments subjected them to decades of legislated discrimination. Racism is a chronic, shameful truth in our collective history.