Saturday, February 27, 2010

On being stopped by cops in Quebec and Ontario in a span of 15 minutes

Strange things always happen in this strange world.

I slept in this morning, well more than usual, and got up at 12. The best thing about not having a 9-5 job is that you get to choose the hours of work. And this morning i chose to take my time and do everything slowly.

so i walked slowly and deliberately. I made sure that i walked like everyone else and was even aware of my bow-legged walk. I wanted to look like everyone else. But to my surprise, i didn't look like everyone else. hahaha

as i was about to cross the street, right when i pressed the cross button, a cop car stops right beside me and tells me to take my hood off and give him my identification. So i complied. He looked at my ID and he talked in french to his radio. I don't understand french but i knew he was describing my look, because i understood the word black in french, which is noir and my jacket is black. Someone in dispatch said something and he just let me walk and said sorry to me in English.

As i walked, he was looking at me. he made me feel like i had done something wrong. he watched me as if i was an animal he couldn't hunt on a sunday.

I started thinking: is it the colour of my skin? I don't like to think like that because its usually not the case. But i started wondering that probably some native guy who has brown skin was wanted and i must have fit the description and the reason they stopped me.

I kept thinking about race relations in the nations capital because i have been the victim of racial profiling by the general public, especially cab drivers. Cabbies like to point out to any aboriginal that there are too many of us that just drink. "how come you guys can't get jobs? You guys even have help through federal departments. you don't even pay taxes." Those are just a few comments i have received. I never have a straight answer and sometimes just to put them in my shoes i wanted to ask: "why is it in your country, you treat all the women as if they were dogs? they have no rights and are subjected to strict controls." but i never say that because they would launch a human rights violation lawsuit, while the aboriginal people's of Canada experience this every single day, we never bring a lawsuit to any people.

As i crossed the bridge to Ontario, another cop car stopped me while i was walking and asked me what my name was and I said Tommy Akulukjuk. He asked me how i spell it and I do for him - A.K.U.L.U.K.J.U.K. He types it in the computer and he says: what are you doing now? And i tell him that i am going to work to translate and that i have to open the office. He looks at me sternly and long and studies my face as if he wants to recognize me. I cooperate and he tells me to have a good day and i do the same.

I really started to feel like a criminal. made me feel like i had done something wrong without ever doing anything wrong. The only illegal thing i have done lately is jaywalking and maybe littering.

When you have been faced with discrimination of any sort, systematically or not, you gain a distrust for authority right away. you feels like you can't trust them or that you can't gain their trust. when a cop is nice to me, in uniform, i start thinking that he is staking me, studying me. I think it's just how they've always looked at me. I feel the same for some teachers, nurses and politicians. It's a feeling of that "third class" stare, where you feel lower because in some ways you've been taught to feel lower from the nurse telling us we have bad health, teachers telling us that we always have bad school marks, politicians telling us they can fix out lives. Its always either telling us we are unhealthy and uneducated and that they are here to help us.

We no longer need your help, thank you very much.

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