Wednesday, November 3, 2010

KKK Costume Wins First Prize in Royal Canadian Legion Halloween Costume Contest

Every year people use Halloween to put their inner racist on public display.  In multicultural Canada, this is something we perceive as happening south of the border.  In Canada, covert racism is the order of the day, unless of course it's not and we choose to rekindle the overt racism Canadians used to claiming is solely an American characteristic.
A formal apology issued by the local Canadian Legion chapter's president over a racist Halloween costume isn't good enough for one resident.

Mark Andrade says he will never again set foot in the Legion hall after a man in Ku Klux Klan robe and hood holding a noose around the neck of another man in black face during a costume contest.

"You know when you look at something and you can't believe what you see? That was my reaction."

Andrade, who is black and owns Rubbs Barbecue Bistro just down the street from the Legion in the eastern Ontario town, said he left right away.

But soon after, people who came to his restaurant from the Legion on Saturday and told him the pair had won first prize in the costume competition, he said.(source)
Not to worry everyone, the Legion apologized.   This "costume"  mimicked a lynching and still yet won first prize. This tells me that the judges either didn't recognize it as racist, or they simply didn't care about what the costume symbolized.  I believe the latter to be more likely than the former.  The truth is that racist displays like the one that happened in this contest, support White supremacy and whether or not individual White people acknowledge it, they gain personally from the perpetuation of racism.

So, the great salad bowl is supposedly better than the melting pot because we embrace all people and cultures, except of course when we don't,which btw is daily.  Canada is not a utopia and people of colour continue to be oppressed by Whiteness.  The KKK does not stop at the 49th parallel and White supremacy currently labours each day to ensure that Canada lives up to the national myth of being a White country. So much history regarding Canadians of colour is effectively hidden to promote the false concept of the kindness of Whiteness.  We always hear about the underground railroad but never do we actively discuss the fact that slavery was legal in Canada.  We hear about the segregation in the Southern U.S. but routinely fail to acknowledge that segregation was also legal in Canada.

I also believe a part of what makes this contest so extremely hurtful is that it happened in a Canadian legion. 
From the time of its formation in 1926, the Legion has focused its efforts on the fight to secure adequate pensions and other well-earned benefits for veterans and their dependants. Acting as an advocacy agency on veterans' behalf, the Legion deals directly with the Federal Government to ensure ex-military personnel and their dependants are treated fairly.

The Royal Canadian Legion has also assumed a major responsibility for perpetuating the tradition of Remembrance in Canada. Each year the Legion organizes and runs the National Poppy Campaign to remind Canadians of the tremendous debt we owe to the 117,000 men and women who have given their lives in the defence of Canada during two world wars, the Korean War and other military missions around the world. Contributions made during the campaign are used to assist needy veterans, ex-service members and their families. (source)
In a place meant to celebrate the sacrifices and hard preserved freedoms, Black Canadians were diminished and purposefully triggered.  It makes me think of all of the Canadians of colour who risked and lost their lives.  Are they little more than fodder to these people? Black Canadians, fought, bleed and died only to return home to face racism and it would seem that all of these years later, even those who are their comrades in arms, fail to have enough respect for their sacrifices to avoid engaging in overt racist actions.  It seems that Legion has failed to learn anything since it banned Pritam Singh Jauhal from wearing a turban because of a supposed ban on "head gear".  No matter the sacrifices or the institution - Canadians of colour are still second class citizens.