Racism rears its ugly head
Over the holidays I took a friend of mine out for a night on the town. It was Boxing Day and “Joy to the World” was still fresh in our minds as we hit the streets. The friend is a good one, someone I have known for nearly 10 years. But that’s another story.
The real story here is that my friend is not white; he is from South Asia–India, to be precise. Some story, you say? Read on.
What started as a night of drinking and dancing ended up with blatant racism being thrown in my friend’s face. It ended with my friend going home furious, disappointed and sad. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, of course.
Earlier, my friend–Tony, let’s call him–was in line at the bar, waiting patiently to order a drink. Suddenly another man cut rudely in front of him. The man was Caucasian, as a matter of fact. Not one to take a backseat to anyone, Tony spoke up and mentioned the guy’s error, relatively politely.
The guy could have done the sane and rational thing. He could have apologized and took his rightful position behind Tony in line. He didn’t.
Instead he told Tony he didn’t have to wait behind brown people and that Tony could go home if he didn’t like it.
Tony lost it at this point–I can’t blame him, either. He told the guy exactly where to go using whatever words came to his mind. They weren’t very nice but they were not racist.
Tony even told the bartender about the incident and the bartender refused the guy service. Bravo! Vengeance was ours. And yet, somehow, vengeance doesn’t feel so good.
Even several days later as I write this, I feel shocked about the incident. I wouldn’t have been as surprised–although still unhappy–if it had happened in Insert-Your-Favourite-Hick-Town-Here. But it happened in Vancouver, one of our nation’s most diverse and, supposedly, most tolerant cities.
What makes it more appalling is that the incident occurred in a posh straight club while it was holding its weekly night for gay men. Ironically, the night is officially billed as “Nice: A hate-free love vibe.” Advertising, it seems, is often a far cry from reality.
What does it mean when one gay man insults another because of the second man’s race? Aren’t gay men supposed to be as tolerant of others as they expect others to be of them?
It is so ludicrous I can’t even begin to explain it, except perhaps to suggest the gay liberation movement has failed bitterly to achieve its goals.
Instead, ponder this: the incident occurred in the midst of the holiday season just one day after Christmas. We all know the Christmas love/peace/joy mantra becomes tiresome the thousandth time heard. But, as moms everywhere always wondered, does it have to be practiced on just one day?
It’s true the incident could have been far worse and both Tony and I are thankful it wasn’t.
The guy who cut in front of Tony should be thankful, too. He had only to wait a few mere minutes in a lineup so that he could buy himself some overpriced alcohol on Boxing Day in one of the most beautiful and safe cities in the world. He could have been in Thailand under the force of a tsunami.
Go. Spread joy. Be nice.
Tyler Hopson is an alumnus of the Carillon. He now attends the University of British Columbia.