Critics of the international movement have called it discriminatory and racist, citing it as an attempt to prioritize black lives over all others ("It's not just black lives -- all lives matter!"). And perhaps most significantly, many have accused the organization of inciting hatred and violence against police. Though these assumptions are completely false, the discovery of a co-founder's tweet talking about killing white people does nothing to quell these criticisms. Rather, it simply adds fuel to an already raging fire.
If being Black represents strength and a great history of kings and queens (and therefore feeds my personal identity), why then does everything I tell myself about being Black seem more like a story that I tell myself so that I can deal with the actuality of being Black? I grew up around Black people who told other Black people, and who learned from non-Black people, that being Black was ugly.
Race medicine promotes the false belief not only that human beings are naturally divided into races but also that racial inequality is caused by innate racial differences we must accept rather than social inequities we must change. Race is not a biological category that produces health disparities because of genetic differences, but racism has negative biological effects on people's bodies.
Like most people that call this city home, I am deeply troubled by Sunday's shooting deaths in Toronto's Chinatown and the eight other gun-related deaths the city saw in January. This is obviously unacceptable, and police must be supported in their efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these horrific crimes. That being said, most people would be hesitant to draw any clear conclusions about why we have seen a high number of gun crimes over the past month. Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, the union that represents police officers, feels differently.
Canada continues to make important strides toward more equality. But there are storm clouds on the horizon that endanger the continuing pursuit of true equality. What started as a legitimate change to bring about equality and transformation of how we viewed, treated and spoke about each other has now ossified into a rarely breached wall of silence, a silence reinforced by the onset of the West's indifference to its own good, bad or ugly -- but distinct -- societies, their values and norms. Call it white man's burden or guilt, a guilt for the sins of the past now manifesting itself in the white man's fear.
Although the black community have flourished in large numbers and has made a considerable mark on the GTA's cultural landscape and have contributed largely to the city's development, they continue to struggle with many social problems such as high unemployment rates, alarming high school dropout rates, racial profiling and a disturbing trend of youth incarceration.
There are a range of reasons people have asked me about my background and reasons I'm curious about yours. Maybe I've traveled to your country of heritage and would like to share my experience; I'd like to visit one day and would welcome your insights. We shouldn't have to pretend not to see skin colour, hear accents, or recognize features. No, we're not all the same -- but why is that the goal?
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?
Well, I recently attended the American Black Film Festival in New York City. This time, I was lucky to have a riveting conversation with four black actresses: Terri J. Vaughn, Garcelle Beauvais, Essence Atkins, and Malinda Williams. They're all starring in a T.V. movie coming out later this summer called "Girlfriends' Getaway 2."
A ceremony designed to showcase our national values of freedom of religion, expression, accommodation and speech? Well, let's just say that this election year, the Prime Minister should focus on reaching elsewhere for points rather than conjuring fear from diversity at a time where cultural understanding and unity are desperately needed.
I get asked a lot about my "heritage." I hate that word, the concept, and everything that tags along with it. In a lot of situations -- social, professional, or other -- I find it completely out of context and irrelevant. Sure, if you're talking about your grandmothers' cooking, it might be a salient thing to ask, but the majority of the time, it just makes you sound ignorant, especially if you push for an answer when the subject seems uncomfortable. Then you're just rude.
I have thus alienated myself from the convention of associating a cultural, national identity to my name. I do not feel like a citizen of said country, but rather, a denizen of the world. I realize my situation is rare and privileged, but I am not insensitive to the many problems revolving national identity around the world.
Months have passed since the attack in Lahore, and the police have not yet laid charges. The lack of social justice is a recipe for disaster, chaos, and mob rule. The scenes from Islamabad and Ferguson, Missouri, are indeed two manifestations of the same problem. Toronto has escaped riots because its citizens hold dear the principles of social justice and equality.
It seems like you can barely turn around without some celebrity or public figure saying something racially or sexually offensive. But it's unusual when it involves a Canadian entertainer. Recently there was a minor explosion when Canadian TV executive Brent Piaskoski sent out a series of comical tweets ridiculing the behaviour of some Asian commuters at an airport.
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.