Kim’s Convenience actor deserves a giant round of applause: Teitel

Agree. Offence was reported to the employer (Toronto Police Force) but with social media and the press, while not identifying the officer involved to avoid doxxing:

Everyone has the capacity to be extremely confused driving through a downtown Toronto crosswalk on the day of a Blue Jays game — be they an urbanite who lives in a condo overlooking Rogers Centre or a tourist visiting from far-off lands like Tasmania and Thornhill.

Toronto traffic invites confusion. Not to be confused in the noise and smog on a sweltering day in the city is, well, extraordinary. Unfortunately, racism isn’t. So it went that this past Saturday a Toronto police officer allegedly reprimanded a confused driver as they hesitated to pull through the busy intersection of Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Rees St., not by giving them a stern lesson about the rules of the road but by telling them, “If you can’t drive, go back to your country.”

According to Andrew Phung, the pedestrian who allegedly saw this go down and who immediately tweeted about it, the driver in question was a person of colour. Phung, an actor on the CBC comedy Kim’s Convenience, was on his way to the Rogers Centre to catch the Blue Jays game when he alleges the incident took place. He posted the following to social media:

“I literally just witnessed a Toronto police officer shout ‘go back to your country’ because they were confused at the crosswalk,” he wrote. “To which two white dudes then shouted “amen, go back to where you f—ing came from.” THIS IS NOT MY CANADA!” (The hyphens are the Star’s.)

Phung took a photo of the offending cop (and pressed the strangers about their xenophobia), but he didn’t post the photo of the officer to Twitter. Instead, he sent it to the police and tweeted the following:

“Thanks to everyone for their support and kind comments. I’ve sent an email to the @TorontoPolice. They reached out and I provided photos and details. I’ll continue to follow up. Racism isn’t cool, I saw it and had to say something. Let’s all do the same if we see it happen.”

Indeed, let’s. But let’s also give Phung a giant round of applause because he handled an allegedly awful scenario in an unusually graceful, responsible way. He reported the cop’s alleged racism not only to TPS, but also on social media and in the press, ensuring it won’t simply go away. (There will undoubtedly be a followup or two to this story.) But just as admirably, Phung chose not to share the photo of the allegedly racist police officer on social media, ensuring that the guy and more crucially, his family, will not be doxxed, harassed and who knows what else.

It must have been tempting to share that photo. I know that I would have been tempted. But Phung’s restraint makes sense when you read what he told this paper following the incident. “I hope this is an opportunity for that police officer to reflect on his behaviour, his words,” Phung told the Star. “And to remember why he became a police officer in the first place. Maybe it wasn’t to direct traffic at a Jays game on a Saturday, but it was to help people.”

This statement reminds me of a sign hanging in a store near my house. It reads “Racist, homophobic and an a-hole? Come back when you’re not.” The implication here is that people can and do change for the better. Being a bigot is not necessarily a fixed state. That Phung chose to deliver such a generous message when he really didn’t have to is proof in my mind that he is a thoroughly decent guy and, at the risk of coming across as painfully corny, a great Canadian role model.

And yet, despite the actor’s admirable handling of the situation, racists have emerged on social media accusing him of staining the good name of the TPS. Their argument goes that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. And besides, maybe Phung misheard. Maybe he’s a liar. Maybe he was the bad driver. Maybe he wasn’t there at all.

This has always been true and perhaps it’s just more obvious in the Trump era, but holy cow: there are lot of white people in this world, and in this country particularly, who cannot admit that racism exists. Racism, to this type, is a thing of the distant past. It’s dead. And any claim by people of colour that it’s alive and well is brushed off in the same way an adult dismisses a kid who thinks she’s seen a ghost.

“You must have been confused.” “Maybe you’re tired and you misunderstood.” “Maybe there’s a logical explanation.”

Racism in Canada is not an illusion. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a fact. Like traffic at a Toronto crosswalk it lingers big time. If you can’t admit it, you’re part of the problem.

via Kim’s Convenience actor deserves a giant round of applause | The Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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