Race Issues is a relatable comic meme series created as a way of expressing the overlooked yet extremely common ways that people of colour are treated in a variety of social settings in our nation. We reached out to youth across the country, both in person and online, and asked them to share their unfiltered stories about how race plays a role in their daily interactions. Common themes emerged from the many responses we received, and the notion of micro-aggressions was included by each individual.
Microaggressions can be hard to identify unless you’ve experienced them personally, and that’s because they can manifest in so many ways. Essentially, a microaggression is any kind of behavior that emphasizes one’s “different-ness”– usually a reference to their race or ethnicity. It can be projected through ignorant questions, avoidance,
or even a backhanded compliment. While racist comments are normally blatantly obvious, micro-aggressions are much more difficult to recognize, which is why they occur so frequently. These subtle social cues are often unintentional; however, a lack of intent does not mean that these words and behaviors are harmless.
The images and stories presented within these comics symbolize a disconnect between the perception of an equitable Canadian society and the very real experiences of Indigenous peoples of this land and racialized Canadians. Although diverse cultures do coexist and
thrive within Canada, many individuals cannot help but feel that their identity is constantly compared and contrasted to whiteness. It is up to all of us to be more conscious of the ways we treat each other, and to avoid the use of microaggressions by being more aware of how biases, stereotypes, and misconceptions frame the way we interact with
others. Differences are what make our country such a vibrant and unique place to live, and we all have to learn to embrace people that look, speak, and act differently than we do. When we choose to acknowledge that our personal experiences are not universally
shared by everyone, we will no longer react in ways that “other” people for not being just like us. We exist within a time and generation where there is no one way to look or speak Canadian, and it is important that we continue to challenge the assumption that there is.
The goal of this project is not only to highlight the impact of micro-aggressions, it was also developed with the hope to initiate a constructive dialogue on how we can better work together to make ALL Canadians feel welcome and worthy.