“Did you ever wear a turban? You should. I think your wife would like you better.”
"When did you come to Canada?"
"Are you a Hindu?"
"When did you come to Canada?"
"Are you a Hindu?"
Those were some of the choice words hurled at B.C. lawyer Ravi Duhra during a filmed confrontation over a parking ticket. Duhra began recording when he saw the racist man becoming irate with a parking enforcement officer who was issuing him a ticket.
Before we act all surprised, and start pretending that there's no possible way this could happen in Canada the great, let's get real honest about racism in the north.
The video made rounds on the internet, garnering lots of attention on social media, with local politicians, comedians and A-list celebrities like Seth Rogen reacting to the online buzz on the confrontation.
That dumb monster truck makes him look comically small. https://t.co/hQ0ki676lF— Tim Heidecker (@timheidecker) October 24, 2016
The racist comments circulating in Abbotsford media today are deplorable and have absolutely no place in our province. #bcpoli #cdnpoli— Michael de Jong (@Mike_de_Jong) October 24, 2016
Duhra says he felt sadness and anger at the time of the confrontation and was initially “shocked”, unaware that the man seen in the video would become so aggressive. The man repetitively hurled insults at Duhra before yelling “white power, motherf*cker” and beating on his chest.
“He actually threatened me,” says the parking enforcement officer, who refused to be identified on camera out of fear.
The situation has been brought to the attention of the Abbotsford police, as well as their hate crime department, and officials say the man in the video is known to police.
“There are people like this out there,” Duhra says. “If you don’t see it, you tend to think it doesn’t happen.”
But it does.
Ask any person of colour and they’ll share anecdotes. Maybe they’ll tell you that they get pulled over more often than their white friends. Black women might share the memory of being asked if their hair is real. Maybe someone will recount a coworker making a “harmless” joke in the lunchroom about their food. Or maybe their story will be as horrific as Ravi Duhra’s.
This video is a prime example of how far Canada is from the country’s reputation of being the safe haven that it’s reputed to be.
Sure, Canada is a great place. It is one of the most multicultural hubs in the world, and there are pockets of the country designed to be second homes for people from all over the world. But there are terms and conditions that come with living here, and people of colour often have the fine print read out to them by people like this man seen in the video. There are parts of Canada—and specifically, parts of the population—that represent the gap between what Canada is in theory, and what this place is in reality for people of colour.
Ravi Duhra graduated with honours from the University of Northern British Columbia. He did a double major in accounting and finance before obtaining a joint law degree at the University of Detroit Mercy and the University of Windsor School of Law.
Since graduating, he’s practiced real estate law and managed several businesses. He is currently the managing real estate broker for My Move Realty, with operations throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the man in the video hurling racist insults is described only as being “known to police”.
Isn’t that interesting?
You’ve got two men, both born here in this great country, who obviously went two different paths in life. One of them endured years of rigorous schooling and excelled, becoming a prominent lawyer, establishing businesses within the country that aid our economy’s growth, while the other ended up double (and illegally) parked in two reserved spots, in his pathetic and ridiculously enlarged four-by-four.
Why is it that the people who concern themselves with the ethnicity, the religion and the Canadianness of people of colour are in fact, the most non-Canadian of us all?
Why is it that the people who demand that immigrants, and in this case, non-immigrants, go back to where they come from, don’t hail from here themselves?
Why is it that the very people who say that young, unarmed black men get shot by police because they “do not follow the law” cannot humbly accept a $110 parking ticket for an obvious violation without committing hate crimes in the process?
Why is it that those who claim that people of colour are “ruining this country” and “creating race wars” are the ones that scare their own people so much that they can’t even speak publicly over fear of retaliation?
If you ask me, Ravi Duhra is an exemplary Canadian, as well as an overall smart, accomplished and peaceful man. He refused to engage in a verbal or physical altercation with this man, despite being severely instigated. And perhaps the most Canadian thing of all that he did is simply start recording out of his concern for the parking enforcement officer, who was also white.
There is a very telling aspect of this video, and it is how the irate man keeps repeating, “I’m not threatening you,” and tells Duhra, “don’t be threatened.”
That’s the type of racism that exists in Canada. That’s the type of racism that we have here. The type of racism where the offenders get to decide whether or not the victims get to feel threatened. They have so much power that not only can they oppress us, but they can also dictate how, and whether at all, we are permitted to feel threatened.
So, to the white man in the video, who needs a lesson in both humanity and humility, the question isn’t “where did he come from?”
The question is where did you?