Ignorance Is Bliss

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Ignorance Is Bliss

You know that immi­grants are only com­ing here because they have AIDS and stuff and need free health care, right? I mean, not you obvi­ously, but most of Black peo­ple. And Ara­bic. And Asians.

Phew, not me. I’m so relieved. I’m white, must be why.

How did I get into this con­ver­sa­tion, already? Oh yeah, I’m on the bus #151 to down­town, and I took the last free seat beside a mid­dle aged woman who was obvi­ously bored and started up the con­ver­sa­tion as soon as she saw me pulling a French book out of my bag. The con­ver­sa­tion wasn’t about lit­er­a­ture though. Mostly about my back­ground, where I was from and why I came here. This some­how led to this above statement.

Since it takes about 30 min­utes to get down­town, I had plenty of time to straighten a few facts. I explained that every prospec­tive immi­grant has to undergo a full med­ical exam per­formed by a des­ig­nated prac­ti­tioner before being granted a visa. That test­ing for HIV, Hepati­tis and TB is included. And that being infected with any of these dis­eases meant bye bye visa. In a word, it was basi­cally impos­si­ble that immi­grants were com­ing to Canada with the sole pur­pose of tak­ing advan­tage of the health sys­tem since they wouldn’t be allowed in Canada in the first place. And by the way, there were a manda­tory 3 months wait­ing time for new­com­ers to Canada before being cov­ered by the provin­cial health plan.

I must have sound awfully down-to-earth—and frankly, a bit patron­iz­ing as well. The woman stopped look­ing at me in the eyes five min­utes into my lengthy expla­na­tion. Can’t blame here—stereo­types and prej­u­dices are some­times more com­fort­ing than the truth since they pro­vide a good excuse for your basic racist rant and hate.

Immi­grants are a per­fect tar­get: they are dif­fer­ent, they are new and they are often less knowl­edge­able about the country’s cul­ture than locals.

I’ve heard many times that immi­grants only come to the West­ern world to enjoy social ben­e­fits. Once there, they just have a lot of kids and sit around wait­ing for the social ben­e­fits paid to fam­i­lies’ monthly cheque. Yeah… well. How many of you can live off social ben­e­fits? And how many of you would : a) pay immigration fees of about $6 000 (for a fam­ily of 4) b) wait for a few years to have it processed c) leave your coun­try for the unknown—all that for a grand total of $400/month of gov­ern­ment money to live on? Seriously.

In the same vein, immi­grants steal the jobs from locals. Inno­cents… An immigrant’s career path usu­ally looks like a bat­tlefield. First, your new home coun­try has to rec­og­nize degrees obtained abroad. Then comes the famous catch 22: until you have Cana­dian expe­ri­ence, it’s very hard to get a job. But until you’ve got a job, it’s dif­fi­cult to get Cana­dian expe­ri­ence. Works also for US expe­ri­ence etc. All in all, con­sider your­self lucky if you man­age to be above min­i­mum wage within a cou­ple of years. And don’t think immi­grants just can’t get a job because their Eng­lish or what­ever isn’t good enough, or because they don’t adapt. I’m French and speak both offi­cial lan­guages, and as a young French woman I think the cul­ture shock I expe­ri­enced wasn’t too bad. Yet, it took me a cou­ple of year to finally get paid over $10 an hour.

Insid­i­ous stereo­types… Chi­nese all live in Chi­na­town and don’t speak a word of Eng­lish (but they are apolo­getic and hard-working), Blacks wear huge gold chains and always carry a cou­ple of guns with them so that they can make head­lines, Russ­ian drink while play­ing cards in the back kitchen of some mafia-operated restau­rant, Arabs are either oil tycoons or bombers (the lat­est option being the cur­rent trend), Lati­nos are all ille­gal and deal drug…

Igno­rance is bliss. And scar­ing peo­ple has been our gov­ern­ments’ busi­ness for quite a while now. “They are going to attack us/invaded us/take our jobs/take our cul­ture away”. It’s much eas­ier to keep cit­i­zens angry and rest­less than solv­ing prob­lems, one at the time.

I some­times wish my world was black and white, it’d be eas­ier to take a side. Unfor­tu­nately, it’s rarely like that, and the topic of immigration is no excep­tion. Some immi­grants are bad peo­ple, some are oppor­tunist, and some are lazy. But the major­ity is just look­ing for a bet­ter life and a place to belong.

Immi­grants aren’t per­pet­ual for­eign­ers. Sooner or later, we become part of the coun­try. Will the charges be dropped then? Doubt it… unless peo­ple start to open their eye and see the world as it is, an imper­fect place full of good-will peo­ple will­ing to work it out together. Dreamer, me? Yeah, once again.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

16 Comments

  1. Wonderful post!! And what an idiot. I really despise people that have such narrow minded thinking. It really makes me sad that a grown adult, capable of learning and understanding, still in 2007 has such racist views on life. I don’t find ignorance as an excuse. People choose their way of thinking on their own grounds. They choose to learn about different races and cultures or they choose not to learn and be judgemental. Shame on them. Can I use the :mrgreen: smiley on her??..lol.

    On a side note:…did u see my smilies? 😎

  2. Yo sweetie what a great piece of work Zhu, it is because of immigrants that Singapore is a cosmopolitan city and even till today with globalisation, we embrace foreign talents here in Singapore as part of this big happy family….whew! Sorry for a long comment 😀

    Yep, see my smile too sweetie 😉

  3. Great post. That is true in any country. Over here you get people complaining about how the immigrants are getting all the benefits and taking jobs away from the Spaniards, and how they are the cause of all the crime. They don’t stop to think that immigrants end up with all the jobs that the natives don’t want, and most of the crimes in this country are committed by Spaniards (after all, they still outnumber the immigrants). Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common phenomenon, if there’s an “us” there has to be a “them” and obviously, if “they” are not “us”, then there must be something different about them. And, of course, “different” equals “bad”, unless there’s money involved. The government is promoting educational campaigns to get people to be more tolerant, but there’s long road ahead.

  4. I love how critics of immigrants move seamlessly from “lazy, welfare claimants” to “job-stealers” without pausing for breath. Almost admirable for the stunning doublethink!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Sometimes I forget that Americans aren’t the only ones capable of that level of stupidity. 🙁 It’s a shame no matter where one ends up hearing it.

  6. For heaven’s sake…I can’t believe that there are still people who practice this type of racism! I know that they are out there, but I am always hoping for some kind of evolution in behaviours *nodding*!

    Where are my manners…?
    Hello Zhu!

    I hope you’re ok. I know that today it is a holiday there :). BTW: Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

    I can imagine the old lady’s face when you explained her the facts lol.
    Immigrants do the jobs that we refuse to do!
    I know people who live off Social security, and they are Portuguese citizens. I don’t know a single immigrant who depends on the Government, they all work for their pay! And they even send money back home to their families…

    Anyway, I know I have been tagging you a lot, and you don’t have to create a post for this one if you don’t want to; just add a banner during October: Breast Cancer Awareness – help us spread the pinguin!

    Pass the pinguin

    Cheers

  7. ty Zhu ur a wonderful and smart woman!

    **You know that immigrants are only coming here because they have AIDS and stuff and need free health care, right ? I mean, not you obviously, but most of Black people. And Arabic. And Asians.

    mebbe its cos of the Immigrants that some ppl get to flaunt their stupidity. Some ppl need to grow brains!

    Keshi.

  8. Very good post. Prejudice is a very old story but it’s amazing that at the area of the internet and globalization these stereotypes haven’t evolved when we are so quick to adapt with new technologies and cultures…

  9. Lori : nice smileys 😉 Yeah, the woman was ignorant at best… I like to educate people ! 😆

    Shionge : I think I see what you mean. Hong Kong is the same, as long as you bring something to the place, people welcome you no problem.

    Theresa : it’s exactly that, a perpetual “us and them” dichotomy. It’s tiring… I just wish people would be a bit more curious about these immigrants and learn about them instead of assuming.

    John : happy thanksgiving too, fellow bad immigrant !

    Aiglee : Canadians are actually very open-minded and tolerant, but sometimes people do need to be educated a bit 🙂

    Max : same here, all the immigrants I know just want to work ! Of course they’re lazy immigrants as well, we’re only humans – but generalizing is just too much and quite dangerous as well. We know that in Europe – history showed it.

    Ghosty : no no, we can be stupid too – don’t take that away from us ! 😆

    Keshi : I’m sure you heard that before too… Australia has a dark side when it comes to immigration as well, unfortunately. Not all Australians of course, but I’ve heard immigrants being challenged more than once…

    FroggyWoogie : thanks for visiting ! It will evolve, slowly but it will. I hope.

    Spyder : Thanks 🙂

  10. Hello Dreamblogging beauty! (just came up with that one,lol)

    The kind of public perceptions you describe about immigrants are universal and usually come from people that have never lived abroad past the narrow borders of their country. Thus, their horizons, way of thinking have a certain “ceiling” so to speak. To them “what is familiar, is good and what is unfamiliar and foreign is odd”. People are a lot of times victims of narrowminded upbringing or even a single bad experience (e.g. being robbed by a foreigner) sometimes traumatizes their perception of immigrants for life.And let’s not talk about media manipulation and constant projection of racial stereotypes…

    What is ridiculously hypocritical though is this: A lot of native people in Western Countries despise immigrants for taking their jobs(usually low end jobs) although they do admit that their country functions normally to every day level because of immigrants! It is hilarious really, in a black humour kind of way! In the UK they got pakistanians and Indians, in Greece we got Albanians and so on so forth… it is just the way things work I am afraid.

    In any case, I’ll take one dreamer like yourself over ten realists justifying unacceptable situations with ridiculous arguments any time:)

    Take care and well done on a very interesting post!

  11. Yeah, this immigrant-bashing is ridiculous. We have a lot of Mexican immigrants around here, and let me tell you I’d trade a lot of our worthless teenagers for more of them. Of course, it would be nice if they would come in legally….

  12. Zhu… Thats a fabulous reply to that old lady… Good post too. I hv also seen some of them…

    I remember sometime back… A white couple was waiting for elevator.. when elevator came they stepped in but as soon as they saw us stepping in..they gave a stare and went out… I’m an Asian..so u can guess I’m brownish… I dnt want to give importance to it.. so I continued as if nthg happened.

    hey btw..I have blogrolled u.. OK?

  13. Hey Deadpoolite : mmm… Me like my new surname ! 🙂 You’re so right, some people just don’t see past their ceiling, it’s not that they’re stupid. Just ignorant. I remember seeing a lot of Albanians immigrants in Greece -what ‘s the official policy on immigration ? Is Greece an “open” country ? Is the immigration policy challenged by right-wing parties ?

    Diesel : I’m not sure where I stand on the illegal immigration issue. It’s hard to make a decision : I think most illegals in the US should get their papers in order without trouble, as long as they have a job, kids there etc. Now, I’m not saying everyone should get in freely… tough.

    CM-Chap : I don’t see racism much in Canada, not as much as in France. But it still hurts. Stereotypes does that. I’m sorry you had to experience it first hand. I’m ading you as well BTW 😉

  14. SilverNeurotic on

    Even though I was born and raised here in the US, I really do make every effort to see things through the eyes of immigrants. Its hard at times, especially when I worked in retail and we’d have people come in that made no attempt to speak English…but I know that the majority do come here and make every effort to learn the language, support their families and that sort of thing.

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