I have had these thoughts circling in my head for a while now so I thought I would put them down here.
I remember meeting up with an old classmate in Ottawa. It was great to catch up with her but one of the moments I remember best was when we were talking about our crushes and she said that she “likes hockey players.” I usually take this as a euphemism for I only like white guys. Of course, there are players of other races but I think that people often associate a certain sport with a certain look. For example, if you think of a basketball player you will probably think of someone who looks like LeBron James, Demar DeRozan or Jonas Valanciunas, not someone who is 5’3. For hockey, I believe that many hockey fans will have a white person in mind when they think of a hockey player. They will think of Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos instead of Jarome Iginla, Nazem Kadri, P.K. Subban. Even though these individuals are all players, some of them don’t fit the typical mold and will then not be associated with the typical image. I am not saying that is a right way of thinking, I actually detest this view, but I believe it is a truth about people’s perceptions.
One of my favourite examples of this mindset came from my first year roommate at the University of Ottawa. My roommate was of Irish descent and once remarked, in the presence of his black roommate (moi), that he hates black Irish people. To him, they are “wrong”. Although there are black Irish people, people born and raised in Ireland that are more Irish than my roommate, my roommate thinks they are wrong since they don’t match his perception of what a proper Irish person should look like. I have previously discussed my own experiences with people who assume I’m not really Canadian due to my skin colour. It is a corrosive and racist (yes, I said it), mindset that leads people to treat nationality, culture, religion etc. as an exclusive group, and not an inclusive one. I am of Jamaican descent and I believe it would be idiotic for me to say that white Jamaicans, Chinese Jamaicans or Indian Jamaicans are “wrong” because they don’t look like most of the population. They exist and they have had a big impact on the country’s culture, with the Chinese in particular having a great impact on the development of Jamaican music and food. I am not ignorant or pigheaded enough to deny that simply because I don’t like seeing other seeing other races in my country.
Funny enough, my roommate would probably be one of the people accusing people of “race-baiting” if they discuss racism, and then chastise those people for not being colour-blind.