Last week, one of my professors began lecturing on critical criminology. Critical criminology is a theoretical perspective within the discipline of criminology that focuses on challenging normative standards and highlighting inequalities, discrimination, and suffering; it unsettles common sense. You should feel uncomfortable with critical criminology, as it is meant to be anything but comfortable. Critical criminology helps us to see that the world is not as we think it is. However, critical criminology is about more than just being negative—it’s about taking the whole system to task through calling out the injustice.
Lecture began with students answering what is thought to be attached to Canada’s national identity. Two of the responses included inclusivity and multiculturalism. Oh, and don’t forget, Canadians are polite individuals—sorry, I nearly missed that.
Next, she proceeded to say that this class, she was “calling bullshit” on all of that, because Canada is not as inclusive as many individuals claim it to be; an inclusive and multicultural nation does exist, but it is not accepted by a large group of people.
When my professor made the claim that, despite it being 2017, we still live in a ie. racist and homophobic world, I didn’t believe what she was saying. Then, I started listening and really paying attention to the things that other individuals were saying around me, and I realized that she was right.
This week, my institution is hosting a Pride Week. I saw one boy look at a poster that was advertising this celebration and heard him say: “I’m glad to know that the school supports faggots.” A few minutes later, I heard another person complaining about all the “chinks” in the school and how they “take up too much of our space”. A few hours later, one of my classmates said to another classmate that they “don’t trust anyone associated with the Filipino race”.
The sad thing is that the above examples cover only a mere percentage of the words that I have heard said by others over the past four days. To start, I don’t think people realize that Pride Week is a fight for equality, or that some of these “chinks” have immigrated to Canada because, if they were to stay in their home country, they were facing death, or that regardless of race, everyone deserves the right to an equal education.
Furthermore, I would like to dismantle the idea that Pride Week is only a way to bring attention to the Pride group, and that if they want equality, they need to stop setting themselves apart from others. I don’t disagree that, yes, it brings attention to the group, and it does set themselves apart from others; however, they need to bring that attention to themselves. Without attention brought to the issue, ie. Canada would have never legalized gay marriage in 2005.
Or, think about things this way—in the early 1900s, Canadian women would have never gained suffrage if they hadn’t fought for their right to vote as persons. I am confident that there were groups looking at women fighting for suffrage in the same way that some look at the Pride group.
While none of us are completely innocent in having made the odd comment here or there, especially when we’ve been frustrated or have misunderstood a group, we need to realize the power of our words. You may have an opinion on a matter, but you certainly don’t need to voice that opinion—especially if it’s negative. In the end, we are all humans. We all want two things: we want to be accepted, and we want to be equal.