Racism is here

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It’s a black mark on this community.

The word is clearly visible scratched into the door of the car: chink.

The vehicle belongs to a recent immigrant. The man is far from home. He’s from East Asia, yes, although not Chinese. The vandal didn’t even get the insult right.

The victim of this vandalism prefers not to be identified. He lives in Amherst for work. He does a humble job for a humble paycheque. 

The car was bought used. He continues to drive it with the word visible, although a coworker said it used to look worse, before she gave him some cover-up paint. He thinks the word was carved there by a neighbour – someone who doesn’t like him and chose a hurtful word to lash out. The damage hasn’t been repaired, he said, because he thinks it would just happen again.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine the anger you’d feel? The isolation?

Isolation. Yes, what about that? Freak things happen. Maybe this is just an isolated event.

Perhaps. Although it’s an interesting coincidence: we heard about this vandalism the day after getting a report from a black woman upset about racist graffiti she discovered chalked on Charles Street, by Spring Street Academy.

Racism exists. That’s not a newsflash. But while racism can isolate someone – a new Canadian living alone in our community, for example – bigotry has company: a parent who passes hatred on to a child, a peer group that rewards ignorance with praise, a quiet collective who knows what they know, and what they know is that difference is always bad.

Sometimes difference IS bad. We’re not advocates for political correctness or moral relativity: compare the Nova Scotian way of life to the Taliban’s, and we’ll happily pick favourites. But bad differences aren’t found in skin colour or accent; taste in food or styles of dress; choice of music or the language we speak.

This isn’t a pamphlet. It isn’t affirmative action. It isn’t whining activists. This is your neighbours insulted, their property damaged, because of their ethnicity.

We all deserve better.

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