So, here I am back at my desk in 2022.
The year has ended and most writers have been reviewing events that happened during the course of the year and also their impact on our lives. Three pictures I cannot get out of my mind, 1. Thousands of would be refugees under a bridge hoping to escape poverty and hopelessness. 2. Farmers guiding their cattle as the animals swam to safetyas a result of the flood in B.C. 3. Hundreds of people running behind and holding on to a moving plane hoping to get on board. Awesome pictures, Awesome stories.
Today, however, I just want to comment briefly on three topics.
On Sunday the January 9, 2022, the Gazette reported 2436 people in hospital with COVID-19, an all-time high, up by 140 from the previous day. It brought Quebec’s total to 739,293 infections and 11,940 deaths to date.
As Quebec ramped up vaccination, last Friday, Jan. 7, 104,033 vaccine doses were administered and another
73,305 on Saturday.
The Gazette also reported that Dr. Catherine Hankins, a professor of Public Health at McGill University called on government to increase vaccination locally as well as making more vaccine available to developing countries. The rationale according to Dr. Hankins : “It’s not over until it’s over for everyone.”
The rapid increase is also due to the new Omicron variant. Sadly, the majority of those tested positively were not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. This is what I’m concerned about. While a very small minority may have legitimate reasons not to take the vaccine, others are like sheep following blindly, and taking no responsibility for their misguided behavior.
Where does freedom to protect the self-stop, and freedom to affect others begin? Protecting others ,naturally protects the self, and that is the reality. We all respect certain freedoms.
The media should have the freedom to speak to some in intensive care, those who were never vaccinated, giving them an opportunity to speak to the unvaccinated, hopefully convincing them that intensive care is too high a price for stupidity and bull headedness. Let the affected be the messenger and learning may be assured.
2. BILL 21
BILL 21 is now the law in Quebec. First of all, it is a bad law. It is discriminatory. It was adopted because its proponent, the CAQ government appeared to have consciously or unconsciously manipulated both the federal government, and the provincial Liberal Party, by pulling the race card.
That is to say if you forcefully oppose this Bill, you may be seen as anti-French and as such will not get French votes which both need to win any election. This subtle threat reduced the magnitude of any opposition to mere playful pillow fight, no harm done.
The nearest thing to this was when I counseled at an inner city school with a sizeable Black population, I saw few Black students accused good intentioned white teachers of racism, in order to avoid doing homework, and also skipping classes without reason.
The accused teachers, not comfortable with the racist label withdrew to watch them fail.
So while there is some elation, some success in passing that racist bill into law, this sleeping giant will from time to time wake up as it did when the Muslim teacher was removed from her teaching post for wearing a hijab. The giant is gone back to sleep, not dead, and will rise again.
The easy passage of Bill 21, may even encourage Bill 96 which is now on the table. But one must be careful even though he/she is popular for some good things accomplished. In our time we have seen the great businessman James McGill, whose name is intimately linked with the illustrious McGill University, and for whom a statue was built for maybe one bad deed his good reputation went up in smoke and his statue torn down.
Shakespeare could not have said it better: “the evil that men do live after them, but the good is aft entered with the bones.”
Racist laws, though accepted, can have detrimental consequences. So look out… more statues coming down.
3. RACIAL LANGUAGE
Language is not neutral. The terms and phrases we use shape how we perceive or put meaning to what we observe. Is there a difference between China virus , and Covid-19?
Is there a difference between” a homeless person and a person without housing? Yes there is.
Systemic Racism is challenged as different people have different levels of understanding. We often speak of racialized people which is the interlocking of several diverse cultures into one group. So Africans from different countries and with different cultures are lumped into one group by the mainstream group which is dominant and always white.
As an occasional writer, I have to keep up with the current changes in language as it applies to Blacks. One term that is being used quite frequently is the acronym B I P O C, which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Black and Indigenous are highlighted because they suffer the hardest form of racism. But BIPOC as a group is not accepted by all, even other people of color.
As I write , I am not sure whether I must capitalize the terms ‘black’ and ‘white’. To capitalize ‘Black’, and not ‘ white’ would challenge the historical elevation of whites over Blacks. Capitalizing white by anyone else may be seen as support for white supremacy. But I must take my cue from the different and respectable organizations, such as The Columbia Journalism Review, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times,
US A Today, Los Angeles Times, NBC News and The Chicago Tribune and others that have stated that they will capitalize ‘Black’ but not ‘white’, because they claim that ‘white’ does not represent a shared culture and history in the way ‘Black’ does. So to be sure, capitalize ‘Black’ all the time.
However even when we capitalize ‘Black’ and not ‘white, the perception of white supremacy is not reduced as almost everything is measured against it. Its culture and behavior are accepted as the norms. Lots of work still to be done. The fight continues into 2022 and beyond.
THE VERY BEST FOR THE NEW YEAR, 2022.