Immigration, Race and Survival - Trinidad to Canada Living in Parallel Worlds by Cecily Pouchet Alexander, Memoir

If you still think Canadians are not racist, this book will open your eyes to a different reality.

This memoir spans the author’s lifetime: childhood in Trinidad where classism is a theme throughout; immigration to Canada at the age of nineteen, which opened her eyes to the many challenges she would have to face to survive in this new country, a main one being that her “assumed identity” of a middle-class teenager with ancestors who were educated and well accomplished was different from the “assigned identity” given to her in Canada, that of a poor immigrant, uneducated, dishonest and untrustworthy. In the seventies in Canada before political correctness, she faced many instances of overt racism. As a country, Canada doesn’t think it is racist, and when racism becomes more covert, her white friends and colleagues find many other reasons for the microaggressions she experiences. “You are too intelligent, they are jealous of you, you are too articulate.” These reasons offer no comfort and do not explain what she is experiencing so she suffers in silence.

In writing and analyzing her life story, the reader will see that her experiences of racism, mainly in two work settings, are clearly a series of microaggressions. Her use of critical race theory also helps put Canada’s racism into context.

There is a hyperawareness about race and microaggressions in Canada since the killing of George Floyd. This book will open the eyes of readers who think that they are not racist, and that Canadian racism is different from the United States.

Writing this memoir led the author to a greater understanding of racism and she believes readers will as well. Many want to know how they can help. The challenge is to try to move from being “not racist” to becoming “antiracist.”