Friday, March 20, 2009
Montreal: a tale of two cities
I've come to realize there are two Montreals... the one I love and the one I saw today.
I take classes at a local college here in Montreal for my job. I am currently taking an 8 month program in the risk management sector. When I showed up on my first day of class in October I sat down and looked around the room at the 18 other people there. I was thrilled to see so many people from so many different walks of life, rich and poor, immigrant and native montrealer, all these people in the same room. I thought to myself: this is a true picture of my city, the way I love it.
We had Jewish people, Filipino people, Indian people, Greek people, Italian people, Turkish people, Lebanese people, Chinese people and two native montrealers.
A few weeks into the courses I found out that the only other native montrealer was a complete racist separatist douche bag named René. I was once saw René yell at very young asian children who were speaking Cantonese to their mother: "You're not in China anymore, if you want to talk Chinese go back there... here we talk French!" Inevitably I threatened to hit him with a blunt instrument and that was the end of that. But that was only the first sign that things were going to go horribly wrong. The next sign was when one of the Jewish girls quit school and made a complaint that she felt that people were judging her for her religious convictions...
We had a class today that spoke of bias in the business world, how we would face bias because of our color or our creeds. This brought up a bunch of stupid arguments, which all started because René said something along the lines of: "We're not in Manila anymore stop talking with your funny accent" to the Filipino ladies in the class and ended up with everyone arguing and me watching in shock.
It was like watching a train wreck: it's horrifying but yet you can't turn away.
A girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo was threatening to kill one of the Filipino ladies, the rest of the Filipino ladies were saying they would never do business with anyone from Arab countries, the Turkish lady was saying she wasn't Arab and not to insult her like that, René was talking to the Greek guy about how Québec had to separate and take the restaurant industry back from the Greeks. Many more things were said, but they're not fit to type... It was utter insanity.
In case you're wondering these people aren't kids, they're well into their 40s. The sad part is that these people have kids. What kind of example are they for their kids? The even sadder part is that my last blog post was about how I love this city because it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and all encompassing.
Today I hang my head because these people broke my heart. They broke the image I had of this city, even if it's only broken for today. From here on in there are two Montreals, theirs and mine.