Given the controversy this week over the release of the television show Lake Shore and the "Too Asian?" article appearing in Maclean's university issue it's fair to raise the question of whether the millennial generation in Canada has a problem with intolerance. Millennials were involved in both controversies, with Maryam Rahimi being an Executive Producer with the show and Stephanie Findlay being one of the writers of the article.
While both the show and the article are problematic in relation to the content they convey, the underlying trend running through them is a larger issue. Ethnicity, race, and national origin are not concepts that can be bantered around for the sake of pushing viral videos or selling magazines - these are realities that shape our world, cause wars, and have accounted for the slaughter of tens of millions of innocents over the last century. Hate and racism are very much alive in Canadian society, not always out in the open but rather malingering in the background as an unaddressed constant. Perhaps it's a failure of society to properly convey to our young people the fundamental importance of respect, tolerance, and collective understanding.
Perhaps Ms. Rahimi and Ms. Findlay wouldn't be so quick to stereotype and stoke the flames of ethnic division in the name of profit if they had seen the after-effects of deurbanization in Detroit following the riots of 1967 or the horrors of Auschwitz. Having a knowledge of history and some perspective about larger social trends might be an trait that is sorely lacking in millennials, perhaps in a rapidly changing world where information is fed to us in a piecemeal manner we've lost the critical ability to piece together larger patterns and trends.
It doesn't take a PHD in Sociology to understand that intolerance, inequity, and division cause instability which go against core values that are hallmarks of Canadian society like stability, order, and social cohesion. Flare ups such as these are divisive simply for the sake of hype in pursuit of 'buzz', but no one ever stops to consider what's the cost to the groups subjected to this stereotyping and what the long term implications might be. Perhaps it'd be better to focus on solutions that fundamentally address serious social problems that exist along lines of race, ethnicity, and immigration status rather than blindly exposing the obvious. For further information about this issue see: here, here, and here.