Have a read through the following media publication excerpts and try to take a guess as to when and where these articles may have been published:
“Indians/Natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it.”
“…restaurant is suddenly closing its doors following a series of homophobic verbal attacks against the two gay owners.
“… Jamaican-born (restaurant) owner (is told) her business was dropping “because you’re black.”
What first comes to mind? If you are Canadian, perhaps you think that these incidents likely occurred in the States. Maybe they happened long ago, as people in this day and age should know that they cannot get away with displaying such prejudice.
All three of these incidents happened this year (2013), in the rural town of Morris, Manitoba (about an hour outside of Winnipeg). First, a newspaper editor published a letter which is filled with racist statements directed toward Aboriginals (winnipegfreepress). Later on in the year, a gay couple close s their restaurant due to homophobic attacks on them from the town’s residents (winnipegfreepress.com/gayowners). Nearing the end of the year, another restaurant owner is set to close her restaurant due to the air of racism displayed in this town (winnipegfreepress.com/discrimination).
When I first started putting together this article, the premise was going to be comparing today’s displays of homophobia and racism to that of which occurred many years ago and focus on how sad it is that Canada isn’t progressing as much as one would hope. Then, after some research, I started to think that the media has taken what could have been isolated incidents and delivered them in a way that allows the reader to give themselves a self-righteous pat on the back for not having the same views as the seemingly ignorant, small town folk in the town of Morris. I then began to think that perhaps the media is painting this town with the same brush of generalization which their articles are stating is so wrong.
A Town Councilor is claiming that there were other factors that led to the closure of the restaurants and that one man’s mistake (the newspaper editor) should not represent the entire town (openletter-gordonsinclair). Some may be surprised to learn that the town of Morris’ mayor is from South Africa and grew up during the apartheid.
The media plays a huge part in how many people form their opinions and views. It has both the power to instill bigoted views within us, and also has the power to sensationalize any incident and disguise it’s reporting as well-intentioned. How do you form your views of what is reported in the media? Do you ignore the media all together because there is no way of knowing which information can be trusted? Or do you take the time to dig deeper and ensure you have a well-informed opinion?
By: Suzanne (@snoozeroony), Winnipeg, MB