Mr. Maka Kotto: “Fighting racism with discrimation?” [“Combattre le racisme par la discrimination?”]

Below is a thoughtful article by Mr. Maka Kotto published in the Journal de Montréal:

Bambi shares the exact same opinion as Mr. Kotto. Indeed, she does not like the idea of a  program meant to support “black” entrepreneurs. Mind you, she would say the same about any future program that would claim to be bringing justice to any part of her complex identity (Lebanese roots, Arab origins, Middle-Eastern, genetically linked to the Phoenicians, remotely associated with Byzantine, short Canadian women, left-handed Sackvilians, etc.).

Programs like this one are somehow insulting as they carry an underlying message: you, members of this or that group, you cannot make it based on merit, like the rest of us. You have to be treated differently. Is this fair to the so-called target group? Is it fair to the rest of the population (all the potential hard-working Canadian entrepreneurs)?

Bambi is asking the above questions, regardless of any noble intentions of our PM. She does not know about you but she is personally disappointed by the vision of our PM for Canada. She thought she has left her birth country 30 years ago, precisely because of clientelism :(. As Mr. Kotto wrote, all this “without even going at the bottom of the debate surrounding racism before such an announcement“.

It is Bambi’s hope that Mr. Trudeau et al. will hear his perspective, even if they have already announced the program in question. Perhaps they would realize what they are doing to our society before they engage in further similar decisions.

Enough of Bambi’s blahblahblah. Here is a quick translation of Mr. Kotto’s article for you. Following it, you will see earlier posts on the same topic.

Prime Minister Trudeau has just announced the creation of a program to specifically support “black” entrepreneurs. He particularly justifies this by the fact that the lack of access to capital is an obstacle to the economic success of members of “black communities” in Canada.

This $ 221 million program in partnership with banks will provide up to $ 250,000 in loans to “black” entrepreneurs. In addition, it will facilitate their access to training and advice in financial planning and business management.

Systemic racism in financial institutions?

If I understood Prime Minister Trudeau correctly, there is systemic racism in Canada’s financial institutions. A revelation for me because I have not experienced it personally. I bank at Desjardins.

I do take note, however, that the problem exists in Canada, in reference to PM Trudeau’s announcement.

I declare my interest

I am “black” by the force of an obscure convention that my ancestors never signed. So, as a citizen labeled “Black,” I should selfishly clap, shut up and vote for Justin Trudeau in the impending federal election to make sure this new fund tailored for me will survive!

And to hell with the basic debate on racism and discrimination!

A poisoned gift?

Trudeau says the goal of the program is to help “thousands of black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from the crisis and grow their businesses.”

And he adds: “The pandemic has brought to light the inequalities that disproportionately affect black communities in Canada as well as the need to revive our economy so as to offer all Canadians an equal chance to succeed.”

Why only “black” communities? Faced with financial institutions, don’t “White”, “Green”, “Pink”, “Red”, “Yellow”, “Brown” and other enigmatic skin colors entrepreneurs face the same challenges as “Blacks”?

In our democratic life, the dominant reading instruments bear names. They are called: sensation, perception, emotion, impression, intuition. He and Mr. Trudeau’s advisers should know that. It’s elementary.

There is reason to fear tensions and backlash vis-à-vis “blacks” in relation to this discriminatory response against racism. The capacity of the population, as a whole, to instinctively appreciate the order of things it imposes seems to me very weak.

Address the root causes of the “disease of racism”; not just the symptoms, that’s what I would have expected. In total transparency, it would first have been necessary to publicly do the work of pedagogy by going to the bottom of the debate surrounding racism before such an announcement.”

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