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Jun 09 2010

Racist beating of black man in Courtenay, BC

This doesn’t exactly fill me with a feeling of safety:

A swarming attack on a black man in this Vancouver Island community began when one of the accused hurled a racial slur, a court heard on Thursday.

Three men riding home in a truck (way to buck the stereotype there, guys) came across a black man walking home from the gym. One of the guys in the truck called out, audibly, “there’s a nigger” as they drove past (you know, like anyone would in that situation). Understandably, the victim of the verbal assault (Jay Phillips) was angered by the word and threw his water bottle at the truck.

So the three men turned around, got out of the truck, and tried to beat Phillips up.

So Nova Scotia, you’re temporarily off the hook. Courtenay, BC is now (apparently) the most blatantly racist place in the country. Congrats, Courtenay. I’m sure that’s a legacy you’re proud of.

Hilariously, the whole thing was caught and posted on Youtube:

The high-kick that the one asshole throws made me laugh. The rest of the video just made me sad.

Once again, while I am deeply saddened (and frankly, more than a little frightened) by this event, I am not surprised in the least. As much as we like to go on and on about how racism is a thing of the past, it’s still alive and well. Of course the most bizarre thing about this particular story is that British Columbia (and certainly Courtenay, BC) doesn’t have a history of conflict with black Africans or African Americans. Black people coming to BC were more likely to be working-class or middle-class, and that exodus came much later than settlements like Chatham, Ontario or Africville in Halifax, NS. Maybe not so bizarre, if you consider the fact that these guys had probably never seen a black person before, except on television. They probably don’t know what the word “nigger” even means, or have any particularly well-organized hatred of blacks.

While this in no way excuses their unbelievably horrendous actions, this attack is a symptom of a larger problem – we live in a racist society. The assholes in the truck are undoubtedly bigots, and the fact that they mobbed and beat a guy based on their racism suggests they’re probably not the kind of guys you’d want to have around, but they’re an extreme reflection of an underlying cultural narrative that says that race is meaningful when judging a person’s worth. While it’s completely appropriate to notice that someone is from a different cultural background, and important to think about how that impacts their day-to-day life, it’s not the most important thing about them. It’s definitely not a cause of verbally and physically assault them.

I don’t live near Courtenay (it’s on Vancouver Island), so it’s unlikely I’ll be called for jury duty in this case or any that are connected to it. It’s too bad though, because I’ve been working on my Samuel L. Jackson impression:

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Brian Lynchehaun

    A Time to Kill is phenomenal.

    My ‘cancer’ thought experiment ending to my thing with Dr. Ross was completely inspired by that movie.

  2. 2
    Tom

    Don’t cover up a horrendous racial assault with a joke idiot.
    I grew up in that town, and when I googled it, this freaking article is the first thing that came up. You’ve attacked a towns rep just by saying what you did at the beginning.
    But then you contradict that statement later by saying the town has no history of racial assaults.
    Genius. You’ve just made an insult of not only the people who live there, but yourself idiot.
    “We live in a raciest society”
    no shit. This ‘little’ issue’s been going on for ages, if you’re complaining about it then look at yourself before you look at others; No one’s perfect and racism’s going to live forever; just try to be tolerant and then the racial beaters can get what comes to them.

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    Yes I hope the world can follow your example of even-tempered tolerance.

  4. 4
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Jesus, Ian, you were covering up the racist assault in Courtenay when you publicly wrote about it.

    You racist asshole. How dare you hide things by generating awareness and drawing people’s attention to the situation.

    Our friendship is over.

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