Nasir A. Shah
Is Racism part of the Nightlife in Montreal? Any proof that racism exists in Montreal Nightclubs?
As part of the #blackouttuesday movement all around the world, I have decided to speak up to raise awareness, to start a conversation, or to hopefully, make people in the Montreal Nightlife less racist (in hopes of becoming anti-racism).
I want to apologize in advance to all the victims of racism if I say something ignorant because although I'm brown (not black), I may never know exactly how it feels to live with that colour of skin.
Growing up in a mostly immigrant community in Montreal (NDG), most of my friends in elementary and high school were black. And I remember thinking to myself (as an immigrant kid from Pakistan) these people are so cool, they are funny, creative, great dancers, have great family values and most importantly are just like you and I (if not, better). And trust me, it even pains me to write my sentences as if I am comparing two different types of humans because we are all the same. But I am just putting you in the perspective of myself as a kid.
So whilst growing up I started listening to hip hop, r&b, dancehall and reggae music and I fell in love with it. But I also fell in love with the people who made it. And that is where the difference is set in the Montreal Nightlife.
They love to play the music that is made by black people, yet they (most) do not want to have many black people as customers in their venues. I even got blocked so many times to play in certain venues in Montreal because they would say (or think) that I will bring more black people in their clubs because of the music that I play. Some will be really open about it and others will give you excuses.
Although this issue has declined over the years (in my opinion) it is not a small issue. The clubs would refuse so many black people for random reasons like dress code, club capacity, not having enough girls (or guys) with them, make them wait longer than everyone else, make them guarantee to spend a minimum amount of money in order to get in, etc. The Montreal Nightlife industry was so brainwashed that even some black club owners, managers and bouncers were following these racist guidelines because they thought that they would lose all their other clients if they let more black people in their club.
This brings me to my second issue which is the racist nightclub goers of Montreal. I played as a DJ in almost every type of venue in Montreal and so many times I have heard from people that "I don't want to go to that club because there are so many black people there" or "it's a black people" club. I have mixed at some hookah lounges and people have said that it is full of Arabs so they don't feel like going there. There are so many ignorant comments and division in our society that it is hard to pinpoint where the root of all this racism is. Is it the media, did one black person did a bad thing to you or to your family, were you taught the racism by your elders, are you simply scared of seeing someone different than you?
No matter the reason, this has to stop. We all know someone of colour so ask them anything you want, be open to them and apologize to them if you ever offended them. The worse thing that could happen is that you find a new friend. Instead of being embarrassed to go to a black club, make those who don't go feel embarrassed. Single them out for being racist and most importantly, educate them and tell them to let go of their fears. We have the tendency to hate the whole race or religion when 1 person does us harm. Think of every person as an individual, capable of making his or her own decision. Do not put the whole race or religion in the same basket. Even you, yourself, are not loved by everyone.
To end it a little bit positive, I have been DJing many interracial weddings and that proves to me that there still are people and families who are willing to accept other races and welcome them with open arms. More and more clubs are becoming neutral when it comes to letting people in and I'm hoping that reading this short message will make you less racist (if you are).
And also don't forget, you may not be racist and still do or say some things unconsciously that are racist so be open to receiving critics and I encourage everyone around us to educate each other. In terms of nightclubs in Montreal, if you hear that a club is racist then stop going there. If only the black people stop going there because they are racist then they win. Every other race has to stop going there and they need to feel the consequences of their actions deep in their pockets.
All live can't matter until #blacklivesmatter