ttc racism

TTC passenger accused of harassing bus driver for being Asian

Video footage from another disturbing incident of racism has surfaced from the streets of Toronto — this time, featuring the driver of a TTC bus and a passenger who is accused of saying he doesn't "look Canadian."

"I was appalled yesterday to see a woman harassing a bus driver because of his race," wrote the Twitter user who filmed the terse interaction, which is said to have taken place on a stopped bus at Bingham Loop earlier this week.

The Twitter user, @BouqBihhh, says she didn't hear the beginning of the interaction between the bus driver and passenger, but that the driver later described it to her as "casual."

As witnesses tell it, the bus driver was making small talk with the woman as she boarded the vehicle.

"When he engaged in conversation, she began to say he was unprofessional and shouldn't be having conversations," wrote @BouqBihhh. "She began to say he didn't 'look Canadian' and was angry about how many people in Canada 'don't look Canadian.'"

The Twitter user says that, before she started filming, the woman said the words "go home and learn to speak English."

In the video, we can hear the visibly irate passenger saying such things as "you're not allowed to do this," "they are your people" and "people in the world are serious… people in the world, they do not respect the ones who joke around all the time."

The incredulous bus driver explains that he is just starting work, and alleges that it was the woman who started speaking to him first as she walked up to the bus.

"And all of the sudden you're talking about non-Canadian families?" he says to her. "Unfortunately, I'm Asian, my background—"

The Twitter user filming interjects to yell "Does that offend you? That he's Asian?"

The bus driver then walks off the bus while the woman who appears to be accosting him puts her scarf over her nose and mouth and says something that sounds like  "you are joking, not serious."

"She was being racist, but also I was wondering — what does a Canadian look like?" wrote @BouqBihhh of why she started filming the exchange, and why she spoke up during it to defend the driver.

"I feel proud to live in such a diverse country but I feel it's important to remember discrimination and harassment because of people's diverse roots is still happening and this isn't okay."

Many are agreeing with this sentiment on Reddit, where the clip was posted this morning and has racked up more than 150 comments in just three hours.

As some commenters have rightfully pointed out, there is little evidence on camera of the woman being blatantly racist. That said, @BouqBihhh's telling of the altercation has sparked a larger conversation about what "looking Canadian" means.

"My husband was born and raised in Toronto. He is Vietnamese. He is a natural born Canadian citizen. Meanwhile, I'm white. I'm an immigrant. I'm NOT a natural born Canadian citizen," commented one Reddit user. "No one can actually 'look' or 'not look' Canadian."

"What does a Canadian in Toronto look like? Broke," joked another.

"In all seriousness, the driver was a complete class act. Dealing with this sort of disruption takes a lot of discipline. People who begrudge TTC drivers for making a decent living should really pay attention to videos like this one."

This is the second high-profile incident of anti-Asian racism caught on camera in Toronto over the past few days, though more and more people are taking out their phones to record racist behaviour in general recently.

Concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan, China, are thought to have given rise to an increase in racism against Chinese-Canadians in Toronto and beyond over the past month.

"Y'all, I'm a Chinese Canadian in the year 2020 experiencing racism in Toronto," wrote Twitter user Phyllis Lam in early February. "The coronavirus does not give anyone the right to be racist and xenophobic."

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