I AM LOSING MY SHIT.
Some person I’ve met three times, who is dating an old university friend of my partner’s, posts this on Facebook this morning and I thought (and asked) if it was a joke.
In English: “Hello, you are welcome to the first Quebecois colony under the rule of China.”
First, the facts: I live in Québec City. I work in the downtown. I know 2 Chinese people who live here. Both are the recent owners of the nearest corner stores to my house. Both speak French, English, in addition to their mother tongues. I have lived in this city for 4 years. There are very, very few Chinese people in this city.
In fact, I was curious to know exactly how few, I looked it up - according to the 2011 Canadian census data, there are 575 people who say Cantonese or Mandarin are their mother tongue who live in Quebec City, and only 460 of these say it is the language most spoken at home. That means a whopping 0.075% of the city’s population. Even so, according to these French-speaking Quebeckers, that 0.075% and their corporation-owning compatriots, represent a real and viable threat to Quebec’s language, culture, and natural resources.
In response to my questions about where, when and how this purported “colonization” is taking place, people have given me all the typical tried-and-true “but I’m not racist!” answers:
- “But I’ve been to China! I can’t be racist.”
- “But I have Asian friends!”
- “But I briefly dated this one Asian guy one time, I can’t be racist.”
- and four, count ‘em, FOUR PEOPLE have said variations of “I like Chinese food, I can’t be racist.”
You can read above for yourself if you understand French. Several people have stated variations of, “the immigrants who come to Québec just need to learn French. Otherwise, they should go back to where they came from.” Or better yet, how terrible it would be if Québec City became as multicultural as Montreal. In their words: “
In reality, the number of francophones in Quebec who do not have access to services in French in Quebec is astoundingly low. It is actually worse in the only officially bilingual province in Canada, New Brunswick. Study after study has established that not enough people actually make official complaints - which involves making a phone call to a government hotline - about not being served in French, and/or do not demand to be served in French from the person serving them or the establishment itself.
All of this to say, xenophobia in this province makes me fucking sick. It is so rampant, so uninformed, so fucking disgusting, and it seems to be everywhere I turn. Today it was on Facebook, glaring me in the face with every little notification. The people disagreeing with me in this comments thread are so fundamentally convinced they are right, and that I am mean and disrespectful for using the words “close-minded” and, god forbid, actually name racism. They say this to me. They say I am weak and close-minded when I tell them I cannot continue such an exhausting bombardement.
These people say these things to me, not knowing who I am, what I’ve seen and experienced. They do not know that I’m the one who held the Chinese grocer’s hand, the very same one they criticize for not speaking French well enough to their liking, as she caught her breath and tried to stop herself from crying after three teenage boys told her to go back to her country because she politely asked one of them to repeat himself when demanding a pack of cigarettes. That I have seen countless close friends, best friends even, leave this province largely because they are exhausted by how hateful and critical some Francophone Quebeckers can be towards their accents, their syntax, their grammar, when they make the effort to take French classes, when they try to master the language. When I’m the one who told an old hateful hateful white Québécois woman to take her hands off a Moroccan woman who was wearing a hijab - who FOR THE RECORD spoke French, NOT THAT IT SHOULD FUCKING MAKE A DIFFERENCE - when she started muttering threats under her breath, telling her to go “back to her country.” That I listened to her tell me how it wasn’t the first, and wouldn’t be the last time that that had happened to her in her six years in Quebec City.
They don’t know that I, who even though I have a Québécois name (Marie Gabrielle Julia Caron osti de tabarnak), a Québécois father, and two Québécois grandmothers, has been harrassed, yelled at and even spat at for simply being overheard speaking English in a primarily Francophone city… perhaps more times than I can count. When, even though I have always spoken English and French all my life, have always been asked “where I’m from” when I slip an English word into a phrase. When I constantly told I will never be Québécois enough.
These days, I don’t particularly want to be. Québécois people sound so so scared, as opposed to proud. Your hatred masked as national pride and misguided cultural protectionism alienates the fuck out of so many people, ruins their days, their weeks, their emotional and physical well-being.
This is what happens when the dominant discourse, which has completely distorted the facts, manifests itself in this way. In this kind of every day, lazy, uninformed racism.
This makes me so mad. This makes me so, so, so mad.