Teaching Tolerance


Cooperation and Communication Better Than Generalization and Insults

Marc-André Lavigne
Opinions Editor

These last few weeks have been interesting in terms of seeing how Halloween has changed in comparison to my childhood days. It is common knowledge that some Halloween costumes that parody a culture or culture specific traditional garb are seen as offensive, and rightfully so. Those who are found wearing those clothes for fun, or in order to make fun of a culture are criticized. But how should one person react when seeing someone wearing an offensive costume?

Well, I can tell you that it is not by making a generalization or shaming that person on social media. I say generalization, because recently, a lot of things have been blamed on cisgender white males.

For example, a picture of a Caucasian man who wears native clothes as a costume is taken; the picture is publicly displayed on Facebook (including his name) for the purpose of public shaming. Comments under the photo read as follow: “White cisgender males are the worst.” It is to be assumed that the person who commented is not a white cisgender male.

I have seen white men respond to such comments by saying the comment is “racist”. To this, the person who made the initial comment replies with: “Racism can only be directed towards minorities”. In my opinion, that last statement is not a valuable excuse or explanation for the degradation and generalization of men who happen to be white. It is as inappropriate as an individual making a parody of a culture who then says it is just a joke. Again, not a good excuse. People in society are told to accept and respect everyone, but why would this have to only apply to “white cisgender males”?

I do not want to seem like I am patronizing or rude, but one should practice what they preach. I don’t believe that being intolerant or resentful towards one group of people actually helps in establishing respect and understanding between one group and another. Sure, the “white cisgender male” has a lot to learn about other groups, but learning is most effective through active listening and peaceful dialogue rather than through insults and generalizing comments.

Am I affected or personally insulted by the comment? No. Do I wish relations between all of us (all communities and groups) could improve and head towards the equal treatment and eradication of discrimination? Yes. Then let us all contribute to the learning process by bringing awareness and having a bit of patience, because when it comes to perceptions and thoughts, it takes some time before some changes become apparent.

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