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Hyphens Separating Canadians

By star1994red Apr 12, 2013 1010 Words
Hyphens Separating Canadians
African Canadians have seen themselves as lower class citizens by mainstream society and their own racial communities. Neil Bissoondath’s a Canadian teacher that came to Canada from Trinidad at the age of eighteen and went to York University to earn his Bachelor of Arts in French. Bissoondath writes stories and essays focusing on economics, the cultural mix of Canada and social problems that are linked to multiculturalism. Bissoondath’s essay “Marginalization” focuses on the controversies central to multicultural policies in Canada. Through various examples and stories, Neil Bissoondath’s work “Marginalization” argues that the hyphen separating an individual’s ethnicity and place of settlement can be separated and demonized by society when it is seen fit. For example, reverting back to an individual’s ethnicity when there is a social controversy, need for aid or help for the in the individuals ethnic country and to take advantage of one’s ethnic perks. Society always reverts back to an individual’s ethnicity when there is a social controversy. A hyphen that includes indentified as Canadian claims, a person a Canadian when it is convenient to Canadians society. Such as when a person has the knowledge and respect that is suitable for Canada they are viewed as Canadian. If the individual gives Canada a good reputation, the media reports them as a Canadian and not as an immigrant. For example, in Bissoondath’s “Marginalization” he says “Dr.John Polanyi, born elsewhere is the Canadian Nobel-prize-winning chemist. Michael Ondaatje, born elsewhere is the Canadian Booker-prize-winning novelist.”(Bissoondath, 1994,p.308) Instead of stating where they were born before saying they are Canadian, the media only reported them as Canadian, giving Canada a good reputation. A person is only stated as an immigrant to Canada when they are inconvenient. When a person gives Canada a bad reputation they are reported in the media as an immigrant in Canada and not as a Canadian. For example in Bissoondath says “Mr.Johnson was transformed in the media reports from being the Canadian who won the Olympic gold through effort to the Jamaican immigrant who had lost it through use of drugs.” (Bissoondath, 1994,p.308) As soon as Mr.Johnson becomes a negative reputation to Canada the media changed him from being Canadian to a Jamaican immigrant. Society will always claim an individual as a Canadian when it is convenient and respectable, for their society and revert back to the original ethnicity when it is you are inconveniently, creating a bad reputation for Canada. When there is a need for aid in a 3rd world country, society reverts back to an individual’s ethnicity before helping them. From experience as an Ethiopian Canadian there has been a lot of selfishness and reluctance to help one another in the African community because ethnic differences. Within communities individuals are reverted back to their ethnicity before they can be seen as needing. Bissoondath writes, about how a Somali immigrant Ali Sharrif who free-lances for Now magazine wondered “why the city’s black community had failed to come to the aid of Somalis in conflict with long-time residents of six apartment buildings in Toronto.”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) A well-known Toronto black activist told him “you see, it’s hard to place the Somalis. They really are not black in the true sense of the word.”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) This shows, how the Somalis are not really part of the black community. The black community view the Somalis as “Muslims but not Arabs, Africans but not black.”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) So they are a Muslim and an African but not black enough to be seen as a part of the black community. This shows that the Somalis are not being accepted and helped because of their exoticism, before they can show who they really are and how they want to be part of the black community. Society needs to stop reverting back to a person’s ethnicity when there is a need for aid. Society reverts back to an individual’s ethnicity when there is a need to exploit one’s appearance. Some people don’t care that society reverts back to they’re ethnicity when there is a need to use their ethnicity to their advantage because they like being unique, and other’s feel they are being marginalized. For example Bissoondath writes, “they who enjoy the role of exotic and who depend on their exoticism for a sense of self-this is not an unpleasant state of affairs.”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) They feel comfortable with being unique and seeing it as being special and an amazing perk. But some people don’t feel comfortable being distinguished by their differences; they want to be accepted for who they are. For example Bissoondath writes about a twenty-one year old black woman name Trudi Hanley that works in “field-modelling”(Bissoondath, 1994,p.308) and how her exoticism makes it hard for her to get a job. She spoke to a reporter and said, “My nose was to big. I was to black. I was too different. We have enough ethnics.”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) Showing how her being exotic makes it hard to get a job in the modeling field. Society really needs to stop looking at the individuals exoticism and to just look at the person “professional ethnics”(Bissoondath, 1994, p.308) instead of appearances. From analyzing Neil Bissoondath, work “Marginalization”, it can be seen that African Canadians are lower class citizens by mainstream society and their own racial communities. By separating an individual’s ethnicity and place of settlement when it is seen fit. From examples and stories argues that society reverts back to an individuals ethnicity when there is a social controversy, need for aid or help for an individuals ethnic country and when one wants to take advantage of their ethnic perks. As a result the multicultural hyphen is a term that indentifies and individual in Canada

References
Bissoondath, N. (1994). Marginalization. In A. Valleau & J. Finnbogason (Eds.), (2004) The Nelson introduction to literature (pp. 305-311). Toronto: Nelson

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