I was standing at an intersection. I glanced over at the post on the corner to be greeted by a flyer entitled "Hey White People." It was an invitation to join the "alt-right" white supremacist movement for those "sick of being blamed for all the world's problems caused by minority groups and immigrants." What had changed?
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.
Until we find concrete and genuine ways to take into account cultural differences and the institutional power relations that inform that reality in Canada, Black History Month, like multiculturalism, will continue to be sidelined and watered down to satisfy Canada's mythical narrative of togetherness, racial justice and equality.
It's hard being the new kid in class, especially when you're the only African American kid in a newly-desegregated Gr. 3 class in racially-divided Atlanta, Georgia, in the early 1960s. And when your parents are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. His advice? Teach by example. "What we want our children to be, we should also be."
Fifty years ago today, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. But today Dr. King's call to freedom and liberty might be considered inconsistent with "Quebec values." Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is an avowed separatist pursuing this agenda by unusual means: a series of xenophobic policies that is ostracizing Quebec from the 21st century mainstream. The civil rights struggle of our time is to insist that the only valid standard is the content of our own character, and not our religious clothing, celebration of particular holidays, or the language we speak at work and at home.
On Saturday, I learned to take a proper hockey slapshot. It was part of an intense adult hockey school called "Weekend Warriors." After years of futility and no lessons, when I finally learned how to bang one off the glass, one of the coaches said the beam from my face transcended the full-face cage I was wearing.
As I continue to hone my public speaking skills, my speaker coach recently asked me a simple question: who do you consider the greatest orators? I rattled off a number of them, such as the obvious J.F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King. Then I realized my list comprised entirely of men. So, I had to do more digging.
It is painful to be called an anti-Semite by a deceased saint. Yet the dead speak, even when we wish they'd keep their thoughts to themselves. There is a tremendous effort to deny that Martin Luther King ever said these words: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." Unfortunately, he did.
The essential difference between Occupy Wall Street and street protests a generation ago is that the latter were for human rights and peace, whereas the motive of the former is mainly economic. Given that history can repeat itself as farce and tragedy, here are some recollections of the high points of the American protests.