Today’s Second Post

I am currently waiting in line at Service Canada. Because it is so busy I took the time to count. There 2, 538 people ahead of me. Okay. That is a lie. There is about 30 people ahead of me. Thankfully they give you chairs to sit on.

Question. I want your honest responses. Is it racist to make a point to smile at visible minorities? I ask this because I do. So many of minorities are mistreated in society. I remember when I was a teenager I was in a car with a friend and her mom was driving. We drove past a man wearing a turban. The mom fingered him. I didn’t see him until a few seconds before she fingered him so assumed he had done something. “What did he do?”, I asked. She replied with something along the lines that he did nothing and he was just a “fucking paki” and he should dress like a Canadian if he wants to live here. I clearly remember the hate in her voice. It stuck with me. The memory is as clear as if it happened today. Anyway, I have been told that doing something purposely because of race, like smiling, is racist. This morning when I stopped at Tim Horton’s to get a coffee there was a young mom with her family. She was wearing a headscarf, obviously Muslim. We made eye contact and I smiled. That said, I smile all the time at people but definitely make a point if I see a person who is a visible minority.

Speaking of smiling, a woman just sat down beside me and I and I smiled at her. She did not smile back. Just a glare. Yikes. Another man just sat down. I smiled at him. Another no responder. This isn’t a very friendly place. What would people do if I just did something really weird like let one rip really loud? What if I sang songs from Annie? Would that get a smile?

Seriously, this is a very unhappy group. Looking around it seems everyone is pissed off. Granted, this is not a fun place.

Time to read my book. It’s by Matt Haig called Notes on a Nervous Planet.

16 thoughts on “Today’s Second Post

  1. I don’t think it is racist. It might be (in a positive way) if you ONLY smiled at minority groups. Since you smile at everyone I call it inclusion. Probably because I do it too.

    • I just try to imagine what it would be like moving across the world and learning a new language and new customs and leaving your family, your friends and everyone and everything you know. I just want them to know that most Canadians are good and kind and welcome them here.

  2. Keep smiling at everyone, Birdie . . . you never know where or when it will brighten someone’s day who needs it.

  3. I have no opinion about whether smiling at visible minorities is racist or not. Does it even matter? You smile at lots of people so I guess I lean more to it not being racist. At least you have a service Canada near where you live. The one in our town has weird hours and the next one if in another town about an hour drive. The good thing is they are never very busy.

  4. I sometimes do that, too, Birdie, especially after I’ve heard/read/encountered some racist reaction from someone else. I think we try to compensate for the many a$$holes that make visible minorities feel unwelcome. So keep smiling and being that friendly Canadian!

    • That’s exactly what I am doing. Compensating for all the unkindness. I like to think if I ever had to move to a totally different country like India or Iran that people would smile at me.

  5. I do the same thing. I also often ask my patients where they born. I love learning about the world, where people come from, what that place is like. Virtually every patient I ask about their birthplace says that their country is beautiful. It’s home. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to live away from your language, your people, from everything familiar. My mum was born in England which is not that foreign but home was never the same for her after she moved here. She became different living here, no longer English but not quite Canadian either.

    As for me, I don’t even know what the place I was born looks like. My family lived all over. The closest thing I have to home is here. I envy people sometimes who have their family nearby, who know the place they live because they have always lived there. It gives their lives a history which mine lacks, or so it seems.

    And now I’m rambling. Could you ask your family members if they remember a bar, a roadhouse, halfway between Ladysmith and Nanaimo? My auntie was a bouncer there. A short, red haired woman with lots of lipstick.

    • I am on a Facebook page, “You know you’re from N….”. If you know roughly what years this would this have been I will ask. I asked a super vague question the other day and got the answer I was looking for. 😉

  6. Frankly, Birdie, I think your being conscious to smile at visible minorities is lovely, and I am a visible minority, so I am responding to this with first hand experience of a world that can in some settings feel unwelcoming to people who are not white. In such places, it is always a relief to feel friendliness from any person one comes in contact with. Relief is a strong word; it implies the bracing for something other than the beauty of your smile coming at them. You are smiling at people with a pure intention, to communicate their welcome, at least by you. It’s not racist. Merely being conscious of race is not racist. It is more racist when people say “I’m color blind,” because it means they don’t see color, so they don’t see me. No one is color blind, especially those who insist they are. This post is just one more reason I love you, Birdie.

  7. Keep smiling, Birdie. Never could a smile be anything but comforting when it comes from a good place, as your smile obviously does.

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