My go-to listening in the morning on the drive to work is Metro Morning on CBC with host Matt Galloway. It’s talk radio at its best. This morning I joined the program as Matt talked with Desmond Cole about his raw, honest and heartbreaking article: The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more that 50 times – because I’m black. Near the end of the interview, Mr. Cole said, “I want this issue [of Toronto Life] to be the best selling issue of all time.” So do I.
When I read the article, I felt overwhelmed with sadness, with anger, with empathy and with remorse. I’m pretty sure you’ll get the anger and sadness. Let me explain the empathy. Cole’s article is partly about feelings of powerlessness in the face of racism. While I don’t know what the sting of racism feels like, I know powerlessness in the face of authority. Who hasn’t felt it, if they are honest with themselves? Imagine experiencing that every single day from childhood to adulthood. Many of our students do.
My remorse stems from feelings of responsibility. As a member of our Canadian society, how does my and others’ silent acceptance of Desmond Cole’s reality feed it? What we ignore, we permit. What we permit, we condone. My white privilege lets me look away.
There has been so much written about racism in North America over the years and especially in the last few months. We Canadians sometimes get to pretend that it’s different here. Wake up call: it’s not.
Read the article. Then help me understand what I can do next.