Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Rooting for the Underdog
Sjef Frenken

Jack always has a different perspective on things. As, for instance, this afternoon.

"Tell me this," said Jack as we sat down for lunch, "what is the smallest minority in the world?"

I said "Jeez, Jack, that's a wide-open question. I don't know. Off hand I'd say beautiful people."

"That's not what I'm looking for," said Jack.

I said "OK, then, how about rich people?"

"Not that either," said Jack.

"Well, what about the handicapped?" I offered.

Jack said: "The handicapped? Man, that's everybody! Everybody is handicapped some way; some people are stupid, some are old and have arthritis and can't use their fingers... and I'm not even talking about people with more serious physical defects. No, not the handicapped either."

"Well," I said, "give me a hint as to what you ARE looking for."

"Visible minorities," said Jack.

"Oh," I said "What about them?"

Jack said "I repeat my question: what is the smallest minority in the world? Visible minority," he added.

I said "Jack, you've obviously thought about this, so why don't you just cut to the chase and give me the answer?"

Jack said triumphantly "We are! Blue-eyed blond people."

I said "First of all, Jack, I don't know whether you've looked in the mirror lately, but both of us have grey hair. And second, your eyes look more green to me than blue. I've forgotten what colour mine are. I know they're not brown."

Jack said "Don't be obtuse. By blue-eyed blonds I mean all those people who don't have true brown eyes, and true black hair before they go grey."

I said "I presume by your rather sloppy definition blue-eyed blonds would also include redheads and people with brown or ash-blond hair. Surely they must amount to a lot of people."

"Right," said Jack, "but nothing compared to all the black-haired, brown-eyed people in the world. Think about it, the entire African continent, all of North and South America, all of Asia west of the Urals, all of South-East Asia, all of Oceania, all of Australia -- at least the original inhabitants, before Western Europeans started wandering all over the map. It's the Western Europeans, wherever they now find themselves around the globe, who are the real visible minority."

I said "Jack, I presume you're going somewhere with this. Spell it out for me."

Jack said: "Here in Canada the government is going all out to make sure visible minorities are well-represented in the federal service, but who's protecting the interest of the biggest visible minority of all? US! People of Western European descent!"

I said "Jack, I haven't given the matter much thought, but I guess it IS a bit of a poser. Frankly, I don't even know how a visible minority is defined in Canada."

"This is where I come to your rescue," said Jack, taking a piece of paper out of his jacket. Jack read: "'The concept of visible minority applies to persons who are identified according to the Employment Equity Act as being non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.' That leaves a lot of room for interpretation," added Jack. "And, by the way, Aboriginal Canadians are not considered to be members of a minority group.

I said "maybe they qualify as an invisible minority."

Jack looked at me as if deciding whether I was indulging in irony or stupidity.

To help him out, I said "I guess the problem is at what level you can apply such a concept -- locally, provincially, or federally, however, shot-through it is with loopholes."

"WRONG!" said Jack, with emphasis. "The problem is not at the local, provincial or federal level. Regardless of the difficulties, it's probably worthwhile to have local, provincial and federal governments make some effort to help people who need help. What I'm pissed off at, is the fact that it isn't being applied at the International level. It's not even being considered! The Canadian government is trying to protect the interests of all kinds of black-haired, brown-eyed people, but there is no reciprocity from countries where black-haired, brown-eyed people are in the majority.

I said "maybe the world is just catching up. It seems to me that white Caucasians have had the run of the world for the past five hundred years. Maybe we Caucasians are just trying to make amends. Or maybe the others will now get their chance to see whether they can screw up the world any more than we did."

"Well, that maybe so, but still, it's not fair," concluded Jack.

I said "Jack, if you think that the world is fair, you've landed on the wrong planet."

But you and I, dear reader, knew that all along, didn't we?

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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