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The Invisible People

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

July 6, 2010

By Perry Redd

Have you ever wondered why it is when countries like Canada are pictured and pitched to us in popular media, we never see black people?  Canada has a population of 33.7 million people with an 80% urban population.  We know that Canada was the “promised land” for those enslaved in the United States.  So with that said, why don’t we ever see blacks mentioned when you hear Canada?

This commentary isn’t targeted at Canada, but rather, the United States.  You see, we’ve got the same disconnection with the inhabitants of this land.  The notion that only European people inhabit lands across the globe is a ludicrous one to swallow.  There’s got to be a reason we see this in tourist ads for Brazil, South Africa and Canada.  Why is it people don’t ask questions?  It’s likely because we are superficial at our core and thus, accept what we’re fed.  We’ve been doing that for years…

Just to be specific though, the largest visible minority groups in Canada are South Asian (4%), Chinese (3.9%) and Black (2.5%).  In 1961, less than 2% of Canada’s population (about 300,000 people) could be classified as belonging to a visible minority group and less than 1% as aboriginal.  In 2006, 51.0% of Vancouver’s population and 46.9% of Toronto’s population were members of visible minority group.  Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population rose by 27.2%.  According to a 2005 forecast by Statistics Canada, the proportion of Canadians belonging to a visible minority group in Canada could reach as much as 23% by 2017.  As for the United States, blacks and Hispanic make up a quarter of the population, at least.  But you wouldn’t know it from the delegations sent out around the world representing America.  So who are those “invisible” people?

They’re usually people of color, separated by income in addition to their color.  They generally live in cordoned-off areas of the land.  A good example America’s invisible people are the Native Americans.  America placed them—by force—on “reservations”, and haven’t let ‘em off since.  When pitching vacations in America, you rarely see brochures saying “visit the American Indian Reservation!”

Another example: the housing projects.  Again, those people are usually people of color, separated by income in addition to their color.  They generally live in cordoned-off areas of the land.  It’s just not touted as an ideal tourist attraction, wonder why?  Real estate agents, for whatever reason, rarely show their prospective clients “these awesomely pristine living spaces.”  Can’t do that, ‘cause you can’t see that…these are the invisible people.  America has its invisible people.  Every now and then, a white male “savior” will come along and CNN will highlight them for a minute after some grand natural disaster (i.e., Katrina), then they’ll become invisible again.

What I know is that these people do exist; they are real and they are human.  What is your role in keeping them invisible?

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