The way I was brought up and the schools were I went to have shaped how I “read the world” or in other words how I understand it. My family is from the Philippines. We migrated to Canada when I was three years old so I considered myself a first-generation Canadia. I live in the city of Regina for most of my life. Although the majority of the people I was surrounded were white, when I was little, there was an active Filipino community so I never felt singled out. When I got older I noticed that Regina had become very diverse that I’m so used to seeing people of different ethnicities. Funny story when I went back to the Philippines for a vacation I was surrounded by Filipinos and I thought it was so weird that everyone was brown. I was so used to living in a multi-ethnicity country I thought it was weird to not see white, black, or Indigenous peoples.
For schooling, I went to both Christian private elementary school and high school. My parents are very educated-oriented and thought that going to a private school would be better for my education. My elementary school was very small only 20 some students from K to 9 and it was mostly made up of Asian and white students. Most of the Asian students were refugees from Myanmar and Thailand. Here I was able to learn that there immigrates who didn’t choose to move to Canada, but they HAD to move because their or their country was too dangerous for them or they were under oppression and had to move.
My high school was bigger, but compared to public school is was pretty small. 200 plus students from Pre-K to 12. There were about 100 high school students. Even though this was a small school it was pretty diverse. There were Filipinos, Chinese, Indigenous, Metis, Africans, Hispanics, mixed students, etc. There many recently immigrated students, 1st generation Canadians, and some international students. Being in such an ethnically diverse place I got to compare my cultural perspective with other perspectives. It was here that I realized that immigrants have biases that they bring to Canada from their own countries. For example, I learnt that, just as there is a white ethnicity hierarchy, there is an Asian ethnicity hierarchy.
Although I went to a diverse school most of the books were read were about white people or were written by white people. And whenever were read books about people of different ethnicities it was always about something traumatic, like being bullying because if their race. From this type of expose I create a preconceived notion that minorities were always oppressed, poor or someone to be pitied. I know this is not true. Minorities can be empowered people, can be rich, and they can also be the oppressors.
Growing up as a teen, thanks to the internet was exposed to literature from different cultures. Not just books but different forms such as manga, web novels, webcomics, and shows written by people of many different ethnicities and who lived in different countries. But even here I see that some non-white ethnicities dominate other non-white ethnicities. For example, I noticed that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese media is most prevalent in Asian media.
I think that the first step to unlearning and working against my biases is to realize my own biases and how I see the world and how it affects the way I treat others. Another step would be listening to other people’s perspectives as a race, ethnicity, community, individual, etc. And always to remember that one person does not speak for their groups.