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"When we don’t talk honestly with white children about racism, they become more likely to disbelieve or discount their peers."
For too long, the achievements of our community were rarely listed in text books, showcased in film, or shared with a wide audience. Black Canadians have come to expect their stories to be ignored in Canadian history.
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I wrote a blog calling for the resignation of the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, Yusra Khogali, citing her pattern of vitriol. I knew the piece would be a little controversial, but I did not predict such a firestorm of hate, punctuated by thousands of people labelling me a white supremacist or a racist.
Diamond Reynolds had the sense to use Facebook Live "to make the world see." In so doing, she changed the course of communication... In a fight-or-flight situation, she banked on live video to be the only unbiased witness she could count on. She put all her chips on that. And changed history.
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Here is the thing -- "brown" is not a derogatory term. It is not a word rooted in oppression, exclusion, bigotry, or hatred of any kind at the social or institutional level. The term is value neutral. It holds no malice, or intent to harm. It is not a powerful reminder of disenfranchisement and racial divisions such as the term"n*****." As wonderful as it is that people want to step up to the plate to help create inclusion and openness, I just wish it was with some context. Instead, get up off your feet when you hear some of the following slurs that are offensive and have been historically directed towards brown people.
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The fact is that our world was built on massive violations of human rights. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was matched in its brutality by the slave labour of indigenous people in the silver and gold mines of South America -- millions died in the Pitosi mine alone. The first joint-stock corporation, the Dutch East Indies Company, included enslaving of indigenous people in its business model.
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.
A lesbian couple was informed that their egg had been inseminated not with the desired sperm of the white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed donor, but with that of the black male, the result of a clerical error. Where the outrage has ensued is with the couple's $50,000 wrongful birth lawsuit.
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.
It's impossible for me to be invisible in Harlem. I'm not just me; I stand for something. "They even come up here now," a guy said to my face with disdain. I'm a they; some kind of collective face. I feel strangely protected in my conspicuousness, but that might be an illusion. But I'm not the only white woman in Harlem, of course.
Canadians gloss over our bloody history in order to pretend that we're better than the rest of the world, that racism isn't an issue here. It's only not an issue if you're not a person of colour. It's only not an issue if you've never had to watch your children grow up and battle their own skin colour in order to live. It's only not an issue if you're not someone like Trayvon Martin, walking in a neighbourhood where he looked suspicious because he was black.
My second "wow" moment came as I made friends with my black neighbours and they asked me about my racial background. I would tell them I wasn't sure and they would invariably tell me I looked like a family member or a good friend who was considered "high yellow." High yellow blacks often pass for white. So at the age of 29 my identity as a white person ended..
CBC -- A Dutch group is threatening to burn Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel The Book of Negroes, because they oppose the use of the word "negro" in the title. The Canadian writer's novel, which tr...