I am often reminded of Martin Luther King, who uniquely demonstrated that eloquence trumps bigotry, when researching Canada's earliest LGBT activists. They, like King, were at the forefront of a dramatic civil rights movement, making powerful and persuasive arguments for social justice in the face of sometimes brutal suppression.
As we speak, there are thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks from across the world who are not able to spend Christmas with their families this year. They have been beaten, cursed at and made to feel like they do not belong, leading them to say goodbye to their family and friends.
Yes, our basic human right to live matters. The fact that our pigmentation is a target of death and destruction is a crime against humanity. We are in the midst of one of the world's longest -- and visible -- genocides. But what happens when we are no longer just treated like raccoons? The omnipresent pest of city streets, devoid of human dignity, one to be exterminated and only recognized upon our untimely deaths?
The Book of Negroes is reminding me how much my ancestors endured just to survive. It makes me feel obligated to live out my full potential so their pain and struggle isn't in vain. On the ratings front, it will be interesting to see how The Book of Negroes compares to BET's other primetime specials. This is important, because we want networks to continue telling these stories.
I won't go into the details of black groups being marginalized at the hands of white people who dominate the "center," because if you're smart enough to think that you fooled us into feeling remorse for "leaving you out" during the protest in Toronto, then you're smart enough to do a Google search to figure out historical black oppression and its endless contemporary reproductions.
The same issues of white versus black racism aren't as deeply woven into Canadian society. Think this is what Whoopi was trying to get at. But racism and discrimination still exist. It has the same purpose it has in the U.S. Just because it's coming out of the mouth of a Canadian doesn't change its meaning or context. People in Canada still want to touch a black woman's braids with amazement and wonder. Canadian cities have pockets of poor community housing disproportionately populated by blacks. The racial issues are still there. They're just served up on a different platter, because it's a different country, with a different history.
The Toronto Star and other publications have touted the success of Ontario's Africentric school system. The problem is, one would expect higher test scores and improved behaviour from students who attend such a school, as the program will self-select parents who care more about their children and are engaged in their education. The fact is, as confirmed in countless studies, that the collapse of the black family within a segment of the black community is the primary reason so many of our children fall through the cracks of society, to be broken against the hard, unbending steel of racism, prejudice, failure and depression. No amount of "specialty schools" can change that.
Now that Black History Month is over (didn't take long) I feel more comfortable in saying that I very much dislike it. Black people are more than a month, and are more than several prominent black figures. Black history should be a regular part of educational curriculum and media programming, yet it is differentiated and set aside, just as black people were not so long ago. How is this good?
On Tuesday January 29, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, an honour student who had just performed at President Obama's inauguration, was gunned down in a Chicago park. Hadiya was described by her father as a "shining light", and she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. This brings the number of gun deaths in Chicago since the New Year to 42 -- the deadliest January for the city in 10 years. This is not just a black problem. It's a family structure problem. When it comes to handgun violence in places like Chicago, marriage and fathers are the answer.