Ask anyone, I’m a very nice person. Polite, inclusive, open minded – one who genuinely accepts diversity. Mine is a mixed race family, I champion equality, civil rights and inclusion. A proud Canadian swaddled in multiculturalism and empathy, struggling with an onslaught of percolating dismay. Powerless to bottle fermenting resentment, hating myself for being offended.
Difficult to pin point or quantify, offense evolved over a number of years. Independent of stereotypes, profiling or judgement, offense was given infinite opportunity to dissolve. I made excuses for it, dismissed incidents as isolated, scolded myself for being a lousy human.
Feeling sorry for the five year old Chinese boy who flattened my toddler on the playground. The boy who attacked my two year old for no reason, then crossed arms, set his jaw, looked me in the eye and said “he’s only a whitey” – his father is black, never mind. The Chinese family who invited other son over to play after school, wouldn’t let me pick him up because the “driver” would deliver him, then found out they made him shower because they thought he was dirty. WTF? We laughed, I wasn’t offended, pissed maybe but willing to write it off.
Hardly of mind to judge an entire race by actions of a few, life went on. We told ourselves “cultural differences” accounted for inappropriate misunderstanding. 1997 saw sovereignty of Hong Kong revert from the UK to China, we understood the influx of foreign money. Busloads of real estate tourists, skittish to obtain safe financial haven accounted for Vancouver’s real estate boom. What began as a trickle, became a deluge. A blitzkrieg of foreign property investment culminating in Vancouver ‘s staggering housing costs. Unchecked, systematic obliteration of middle class housing in Vancouver.
On my block, three homes have been empty for 8-10 years. Gardeners appear, lights on timers go on and off, but nobody lives there. The scene plays out, block after block in any direction. Last year, investigations by a local paper reported something like 65% of homes sold in the last two years were registered to “house-wives” earning less than $50,000 a year – translation, multi million dollar home owners exempt from income tax. Not a day goes by without a mail box stuffed with flyers from Chinese real estate agents. ( pictured below, the 2 waiting for me today). Canada has two official languages, French and English – what a joke. Agents don’t even try to behave like Canadians. Chinese characters dominate advertising.
The other day a Chinese agent knocked on my door. She thrust a business card in my hand, saying in broken English “I buy your house”. I’m offended.
This week a Globe and Mail investigation revealed a litany of sordid, under-handed practices aimed at benefiting Chinese buyers. Reports of real estate agents listing their location rather than buyers address on Federal money laundering forms. Agents navigating loop-holes to flip properties several times (collecting multiple commissions ) before registering a sale. ( See link below ).
Hating myself for feeling grumpy, teetering on the brink of outright hostility, loathing myself for being a bitch – offended is putting it mildly. Truth be told, I’m offended because we could have avoided all this drama. Canadians are swell, unassuming and polite people willing to welcome with open arms. Had Chinese money bothered to bridle greed/panic long enough to realize a little effort in English goes a long way, I would applaud rather than fixate on offensive behavior. Offended stems from blatant disregard for those who call Vancouver home. Would it kill you to conduct yourself with a modicum of decency towards my home and native land?