Q: I hate to admit this but I think that my little community is carrying bigotry into its historical archives.
A few months ago, a family from southeast Asia bought our local cafe and moved into the community. They seem to be hard working and pleasant people, but few of my neighbours are reaching out to include the new family in community activities. I only see our new residents in either their cafe or at parent-teacher interviews in the school.
What can I do to help my community shed its subtle discrimination and become more inclusive for our newcomers?
A: The starting point is to understand the depth from which discrimination is likely to evolve. As I see it, discrimination is another word for fear. The fear is apprehension about change.
The migration of people from Middle and Far Eastern states is bringing with it new customs, beliefs and ways of conducting business. As much as the newcomers try to blend into our communities, they cannot help but to do some things differently.
For some of our long-term residents, the changes and differences are threatening. The attempt to marginalize or discriminate against those who are new here is an attempt to preserve the ways in which we have always done things.
You are likely not able to influence your neighbours but you can work on your own attitudes. We need to recognize when we have been discriminatory and admit our own misplaced attitudes. The more you honestly confront your own moments of indiscretion, the more likely it is that you will temper yourself from continued biases in the future.
In doing so, you set an example for others in your community and give people a chance to model themselves after you. In that, you may find a change in their attitudes.
Newcomers to our communities bring with them rich cultural heritages with interesting food, music and art.
No one needs to fear something that is likely to enrich our lives.
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: email@example.com.