With it being 2017, you’d think a person’s race or ethnicity wouldn’t be a factor in (American) society. Turns out it still does, and it’s not going away any time soon.
In this day and age it’s still surprising to see people make such a huge fuss about race and skin colour. I’m particularly taken aback by the present environment unveiling before our eyes in the United States. In a land that’s supposed to preach liberty and acceptance and be welcoming as it claims to be it still boggles the mind that there’s as much…ineptitude for a large portion of the population to accept the nationalities of others outside of their alleged “grass roots” American family trees.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m in Canada and the multitude of nationalities that make up the Canadian social fabric have become so commonplace here that it’s generally accepted without so much of a fuss. (Granted, in the more “concentrated” areas of the country where immigration of certain ethnicity doesn’t tend to extend as much as it does in urban areas, there’s still a bit of resistance to accept them in that respective society.)
What am I alluding to in particular? This past Tuesday was the 4th of July, or Independence Day in the United States. It’s a huge national celebration that fetes all things American and an ideal chance to pat each other on the back of their accomplishments and a giant group hug that would make Barney and Friends vomit from all the cushiness. But there’s a particular theme that caught my attention that really made me think about how things are down there and how much more work there is to become as open as it claims to be.
During the Macy’s 4th of July festivities in Manhattan with footage across the country there were pieces of commentary of people—largely immigrants—who appreciated the opportunity to become American and enjoy its freedom that is often not bestowed upon citizens in other countries. The amount of liberty they feel just being on American soil is astounding; it felt like a genuine appreciation that I personally think many homegrown Americans tend to take for granted. A lot of these immigrants are productive, peaceful and patriotic members of society, a lot more than those who tend to think just because they were born in America with several generations of roots to prop them up they deserve the right to be critical of people who have fought most of their lives to escape tyranny to come to America regardless of circumstances.
While it was all fine and dandy to hear those positive testimonies from appreciative people from a plethora of ethnicities with heart-wrenching circumstantial stories, I couldn’t help but think that there’s still a level of racial ignorance in the U.S. that I cannot comprehend. It doesn’t just include that but those who have decided to seek their true selves whether it be through gender realization or emancipation from unjust societal norms so hell-bent on religious interpretation that has largely become outdated. You’d think that with it being 2017 that a person’s ethnicity, race or gender preference would not be such a grandiose issue but apparently it still is.
Today I was on MSN browsing entertainment articles and I stumbled across this unique article. The article, found here, talked about the recent reboot of Hawaii Five-O experiencing the departure of two Asian actors, with each decrying racial hierarchy. Before people automatically classify this as racism (the network allegedly offered the actors “substantial raises” but were turned down for whatever reason), it paints a picture of non-Caucasian individuals struggling to be woven into existing popular culture when there really shouldn’t have be a struggle.
In most cases, Democrats are the ones who champion liberty among all individuals however there’s been some Republicans who have chimed in a more progressive tone. Although to some that means freedom of religion, and the right to discriminate. That aside, does human dignity need to fall beneath the tendrils of freedom of religion? If you ask me, it doesn’t. A lot of people share that same sentiment as I do. Again, it depends on which side of the political spectrum you fall under.
Perhaps I’m biased; growing up in Canada, as mentioned before, having people of different colour, ethnic backgrounds or religions being included in everyday life is something that’s not really questioned here. I think it’s because here we’ve acknowledged that Canada is essentially a country of immigrants and everyone contributes in a unique way to the fulfillment of our own societal values. Granted, we are 91 years younger than America but our foundation was leagues different from those of the United States so it’s hard to make a legitimate comparison. And to be fair, I’m not American and do not live there, so I cannot make an accurate statement on how society is there, but I can make observations, particularly since the events that take place in America affect the world in multiple ways so it is, therefore, valid.
In Toronto, it’s perfectly common to see people of different ethnic backgrounds interact with one another. Take a ride on the TTC (Toronto’s transit operating body) and you’ll find people of all sorts of colours, creeds and lifestyle preferences sharing a ride or sipping a cup of Tim Horton’s (or whatever brand you prefer) together. It’s normal here. Yes, there are cliques but that happens everywhere, although ours tend to be more open than I’d like to think others are elsewhere. And we can largely thank Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, for tracking Canada down a revolutionary path towards multiculturalism that has resonated to this day.
Canada has its own challenges, yes, but I think because of our own unique nature we take a more civil approach to dealing with issues rather than through mind-numbing violence or destruction of property.
The political atmosphere with Donald Trump and the anti-immigration stance only exacerbates the situation, however, it is fair to point out that democratically-elected governments are largely the result of the electorate’s sentiments, so is Trump truly to blame or does the public need to take a bit of responsibility as well? Yes, there is some valid concern over who is let in to the country, and that’s perfectly acceptable ; each nation has the right to defend itself. But basing these things on prejudice without purpose borders discrimination and should not be tolerated. Places like Syria are experiencing a large swath of violence that unfortunately extends beyond its borders, but to paint each person who flees to find solace elsewhere as a violent extremist is unjust.
When I see dynamics like that, it strikes me in a very recognizable manner that a person’s character is more important than their colour or ethnicity. Beauty is skin-deep, yes, but you have to live with what’s beneath. If you cannot accept that, then you don’t accept humanity for all that it is.
I was fortunate enough to have met incredible people along the way in my life who come from different backgrounds and circumstances. Cathy, Golden Touch Medispa’s founder, was one such person. A remarkable lady who hails from Iran, just by mingling with her these years has enabled me to drop the narrow-mindedness that comes with not being exposed to the rich and flavourful opportunities to meet people that come along with a fulfilling social existence. She has a lovely story and unique perspectives that have helped me open my mind and eyes to a lot of the goings-on that happen in the world in and above what popular culture or mainstream media may have you think.
You are beautiful no matter how you look or where you came from. Always remember that. No one can tell you otherwise.
Find your beautiful.
Sean is chief advisor of branding and operations for Golden Touch Medispa. Read Beyond Beauty weekly as Sean takes us along a path of a unique perspective into the things that most people accept as beauty.