The dialogue surrounding racism and cultural divide in Brampton city is an issue that only makes headlines and comes to the forefront of conversation when it happens very overtly. When Racist immigration flyers were distributed last year, many Bramptonians took an active stance in voicing their outrage and disgust. Outrage ensued in similar fashion when a Brampton high school student posted a racist rant on YouTube, but the conversation stopped there. We speak much less, if at all, about everyday racism and cultural bias.
The bigger issue and danger is in the cultural segregation and racism that exists below the surface. It’s embedded in the reaches of our minds, our thoughts, belief systems and actions. It’s in the attitudes we possess towards those who surround us of different cultures and races. We can talk all we want about being a multicultural city, but it doesn’t take a very big microscope to see the divide that lies just under the surface.
The reasons for this cultural polarization are numberless. For starters, some native-born Canadians seem to hold a silent resentment and animosity towards immigrants that are moving into the city at very rapid pace. Similarly, members of the large South Asian community here in Brampton tend to look inward and search for belonging within the confines of their own cultural enclaves.
We even see it in municipal and provincial leadership at times. Candidates will monopolize on the cultural divide for the sake of political gain. Issues are made out to be South Asian issues, or black issues, or white issues. But shouldn’t the issues happening in the city be that of the community as a whole? This us versus them dichotomy that continues to persist ha stunted the growth of this city for far too long. What the city needs is a convergence, a coming together, and a little bit of common ground and it’s already starting to happen with the millennial generation.
Downtown Brampton is becoming quite the hub for innovation and collaboration. With the launches of The Maker Space at the Four Corners Library and Lab B Co-working, we’re seeing the creation of spaces that foster a stronger sense of community, collaboration and working together. There’s no divide in culture or ethnicity, in these spaces, but a true sense of community. One of the most remarkable things happening is that these spaces are being operated and predominantly frequented by young millennial from right here in the city.
Recent findings from The Pew Research Center have solidified what we’ve already surmised of the up and coming generation. Millennials are the most culturally diverse generation yet, and we understand and interpret culture and race differently from our older Gen X counterparts. We not only hail from native-born Canadians, but many of us are first generation Canadians, coming from immigrant parents. We’ve grown up together as classmates, teammates and friends. We stand on equal footing and with a commonality that has the power to bridge the cultural gap that continues to persist in Brampton.
This generation if young people are slated to run this city in the not too distant future, and this bodes well for Brampton. The duty of young people is to now walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Millenials already been pegged as tolerant racists for preaching tolerance but failing to act. If the upcoming generation can strive to emulate and embody some of the post-racial traits experts so vehemently state that they possess, it will take Brampton leaps and bounds.