Toronto NAJC President’s Letter – July 2014

July 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

“Race and White Supremacy”
by David Fujino.

When Japanese Canadians were labelled as “enemy aliens”, the powers-that-be — our founding Fathers—certainly didn’t view the Chinese, Aboriginal peoples or women as equals, either.

Historians note that people at the time used a racial filter. They believed that “white” people were the only ones who had the capacity to live in a free, equal, and democratic society.

Such pervasive white supremacist thinking ultimately led to the disturbing blanket rationale for the dispersal, exploitation, and the World War 2 internment of Japanese Canadians.

A more cogent explanation of white supremacy and its promotion of a “white” Canada can be found in Professor Mona Oikawa’s important book, Cartographies of Violence, wherein she explains how white supremacy marginalized and diminished Japanese Canadians as “enemy aliens” who lived in a “white” Canada.

Briefly, we can also cite the familiar case of Thomas Jefferson — a slave owner and the author of the Declaration of Independence — who wrote that “all men are created equal”. Jefferson clearly saw no contradiction or hypocrisy in his writing when he exclusively meant “white” men.

Put simply, white supremacy is a mental state — and spiritual state? — which allowed for the mistreatment, theft of property and life opportunities, and the internment of citizens of Canada, the United States, and Brazil (which tortured and even killed its Japanese citizens).

Decades since, white supremacy damages and demeans the many people of colour who live in this world’s colonizing countries — countries where, oddly enough, nobody’s “a racist”, and many persist in the belief that we live in “post-racial” societies.

But we need not despair.

When an actor associate said to me in a private phone conversation, “It’s a white man’s world”, I had to agree with her. (She happens to be Jewish.) I agreed — not because she explained away the frustrations and the realities of working professionally as an actor of colour — and not because I accept a white supremacist viewpoint.

I agreed because it’s important to understand who we really are, according to our own experiences. It’s important to know we are beautiful, and we further owe it to ourselves and others to celebrate what is, after all, our common humanity.

p.s — Race was imagined into existence by the various colonists throughout this world.

Respectfully yours,
David Fujino