Truckers must stand united in the face of terrorism
November 1, 2001
Since Sept. 11, we are all living in a different world. Many of us have noticed differences, some of them rather pronounced such as increased security at borders and airports and some differences bein...
Since Sept. 11, we are all living in a different world. Many of us have noticed differences, some of them rather pronounced such as increased security at borders and airports and some differences being much more subtle, such as changes in people’s attitudes.
As truck drivers, many of us have had first-hand experience with these differences some of them understandable and some of them disturbing.
One difference I have noticed since Sept. 11 is there seems to be a much higher number and degree of racist comments directed towards certain drivers. It appears any person with Middle Eastern or Arab features is being singled out for discrimination.
Granted, I do not have any statistical data to support my claim of increased racism. I am, however, acutely aware of it – just listen to the CB, you’ll quickly become aware, too.
Before I continue, I feel compelled to set the record straight: To discriminate against a fellow truck driver because he or she does not look or act like you is not only unprofessional, rude, and un-Canadian, it’s morally reprehensible not to mention illegal.
When a truck driver keys up his CB and bad mouths another truck driver because he is not of the same skin color and doesn’t fit into the redneck, chicken-hauler stereotype, he is racist and is practicing discrimination.
On Sept. 11, approximately 6,000 people lost their lives simply because they were capitalists. If it is wrong for bin Laben to discriminate against capitalists (and I am sure we all agree it is) it is just as wrong for us to discriminate against relatively new Canadians. We in the trucking industry, in particular those of us behind the wheel, can and should learn some valuable lessons from the recent tragedies.
All Canadians, regardless of their heritage, have the right to be truck drivers. Just because an individual emigrated from Pakistan, China, Poland or any other country, does not make them a bad driver. A bad driver is determined by an individual’s driving habits and not by the color of their skin or their ethnic background.
I have heard a great deal of bellyaching over the fact many new immigrants to Canada have a silver platter handed to them when entering the country. It should be noted the majority of Canadians have emigrated from many countries around the world, especially after the World Wars. Many of our ancestors were also helped out by the Canadian government upon their arrival to this great land.
If you have a problem with certain government programs then you should write you MP about what you feel needs to change. Don’t simply hide behind the CB spreading hate.
Along with a welcoming package, many new immigrants appear to get their licence with little training, or supervision. In fact, shady driving schools are a very real problem in the trucking industry today.
I have never seen any empirical data to support the claim that certain ethnic groups have any less training than the white Caucasian male.
It is imperative for all to understand that bad driver training is not exclusive to incoming immigrants and that the real problem is not the immigrants or trainees, but rather the program.
If the programs are inadequate, it is those programs and licensing requirements that have to be fixed, and taken care of, not the people in them.
When confronted with one’s own discrimination, many drivers still try to validate their stance by claiming many of these “other” drivers are less clean, don’t speak the same language and seem to stick to themselves without trying to integrate.
Once again I have seen many filthy white drivers, most of whom you can smell from across the truck stop. In fact, many drivers with a different ethnic background are some of the best-dressed individuals in the industry. As for not understanding another language or culture, chances are they don’t understand yours either.
Verbally abusing them isn’t going to solve the problem. Considering all the discrimination, abuse, and harassment certain groups of drivers receive it is no small wonder that they try to stick to themselves.
I would encourage all self-respecting Canadian truck drivers to courageously reach across the divide and start to associate with people you normally wouldn’t.
Not only would this country be better as a result, you would be a better person, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and a monthly contributor to Truck News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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