Delta constable Jas Dhillon shared his experiences with racism at a forum hosted by the Organization Against Racism and Hate at the Harris Barn in Ladner on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Saša Lakić photo)

Delta needs education about racism, says new committee

Deltassist’s new Organizing Against Racism and Hate committee held a pair of forums last week

A new committee wants to raise awareness that racism is still a reality in Delta’s communities.

Under the auspices of Deltassist, the Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) committee is comprised of Delta residents, City of Delta staff, Delta police officers, and faith leaders. The committee will educate Deltans on the various conscious and unconscious ways people express racism and how to deal with racism when it does rear its head.

Last week, Deltassist held forums in North Delta and Ladner where people who were or are affected by racism shared their stories with the local community and the city’s leaders. It was also a chance for locals to join the committee.

Delta police constable Jas Dhillon, who grew up in North Delta, talked about his experience with unconscious and conscious racism in everyday life, and during his time playing professional football.

He recalled one event that shaped how he played football and who he became as a person. During a football game in Regina, Sask., when he was still a young player, spectators and an opposition player shouted slurs at him. It confused him, he said, because only Punjabi-speaking people would know the terms.

“So it turned out to be [more of] a game of psychological warfare than it was [a football game],” Dhillon told the audience at the Harris Barn in Ladner. “So you got to remain focused and stay determined to what your task is.”

But he said it also happens at home in Delta. Whether he is at the gym or just walking down the street, he catches people staring at him, whispering cynical comments to one another about his line of work.

“It happens, right? But why does it happen?” asked Dhillon, who stands six-foot-three and weighs well over 200 pounds. “But is this real racism or a lack of education? Some people just don’t know the difference.”

Pam Shaw, committee member and North Delta resident, spoke of her encounter with overt racism a few years ago during Delta’s annual spring clean-up. While rummaging through “an interesting pile of junk” with a local resident, the person mentioned he had sold his house and was moving to White Rock.

“And without skipping a beat, that person said, ‘Because there’s too many brown people in North Delta. I can’t go to the grocery store, I can’t even go to my bank without having to deal with a brown person’ … and inside of me, my heart started to pound, my mind started to race,” Shaw recalled.

“So, I said …… I said nothing.”

After the person’s comment, the two simply went their separate ways.

Shaw said she kept wondering afterwards why it was OK for the person to say that to her and came to the conclusion that the person must have assumed, as they were both white people, that she would not push back against such comments.

“And that led me to recognize the insidiousness of racism,” she said.

“All racism needs from me is to buy into and hold on tight to the status quo, to be more invested in the status quo than I am in building a stronger community. Racism needs me to keep things comfortable,” she said.

Committee member Kate Henderson talked about the obvious and subtle ways racism has manifested in her life since she moved to Ladner nine years ago. She told the audience there have been instances in which she was told to “go back to China” in Tsawwassen and overheard from shoppers at a Ladner produce market there was an “Asian invasion happening in town.”

“I am kind of in a space where I am thinking, do they know that I [am here] and they’re saying that because they know that I can hear it?” Henderson said. “Or are they saying it because they think that’s just everyday talk and they’re just speaking truthfully?”

Henderson then focused on the more subtle racism in her community, which she said happens frequently at restaurants and retail shops. She often has to wait for some time for assistance, while white people receive prompt service.

Henderson made a point of addressing the argument that it could be some other factor as to why personnel at her local restaurants and retail shops may ignore her. “Being in the skin that I am in, for as long as I have been, I have seen it enough that I [recognize] a general pattern and I know. I have a good radar for that,” she said.

She said the community has to do a lot of work on educating itself about the forms racism takes. Avoiding an uncomfortable topic such as racism makes it hard for Delta residents to evolve, she said, so she welcomed having the OARH committee as a tool for education.

“This is not something you can feel your way through, and I think a lot of people bring their own personal experiences and biases, [and] their own spin on what is and isn’t racism,” Henderson added.

“Racism, just like culture, changes with time.”

Those looking for more information on how to join the Delta OARH committee can contact Deltassist at 604 594-3455.



sasha.lakic@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

South Surrey mom optimistic changes ahead for recovery homes

Maggie Plett met with Min. Judy Darcy Thursday

Surrey lotto winner plans to spoil his kids

Attila Kelemen won $500K in the Daily Grand draw, held on July 8

Uphill battle for Cloverdale cyclist, 64, and her daughters in Cypress Challenge charity ride

Robyn Wells has lost both of her parents and two uncles to pancreatic cancer

Surrey mayor dissolves public safety committee, creates one for police transition

Locke slams the move, saying who McCallum appoints to the committee will be ‘a very large tell’

Canadian national softball team wins second straight Canada Cup

Team Canada defeats Texas-based Scrapyard International in gold-medal game Sunday in South Surrey

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read

l -->