On October 21, 2019, Mr. Justin (blackface) Trudeau leader of the Liberal party in Canada, won his second term as Canada’s Prime Minister. If you happen to watch Canadian news you would have heard that Mr. Trudeau did blackface on 4 occasions in his adult years! As part of the usual political mudslinging, someone leaked the photos of him imitating Harry Belafonte in high school and him wearing some Aladdin costume with blackface while he was a teacher at some swanky private school and again on two other occasions. With all the oohs and awes and OMGs over Trudeau’s blackface and his involvement in the SNL Lavalin corruption case, he still won. After all, he did give Canadians weed…
Frankly speaking, I did not know who to vote for. As a black Canadian, it appears to me that the Black Canadian vote means nothing. Thus, any party I vote for will not be any different …why? you may ask…because, throughout this whole campaign, I heard none of the candidates talk about a Black Canadian Agenda. Black Canadians are the invisible group, even though they have been in Canada since the early seventeenth century before Canada became Canada. Blacks have contributed significantly to the building of Canada, yet no party had a black agenda or at least addressing issues that disproportionately affect Black Canadians. Thus, I beg to differ with my people and others who are not aware, that anti-black racism is alive and well and living in Canada.
Black Canadians currently make up 3.5% of the country’s population. The Black population is projected to grow to 5-6% by 2036. Yet Black Canadians are the most targeted groups for hate crimes; over the past decade 71.1-per-cent increase in the federal black prison population; a disproportionate amount of Black Canadian children live below the poverty line compared to white Canadian children (33% Caribbean descent; 47% continental African descent; 18% white Canadian); an excessive amount of Black Children are in the foster care system “The proportion of black children admitted into care was 2.2 times higher than their proportion in the child population.”(https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-black-and-indigenous-children-over-represented-in-ontario-child/) and although a good majority of the Black population in Canada have post-secondary education, they make significantly lower income than whites and are more likely to live in low-income areas. I don’t know about you, but I see systemic racism at play. Despite the few and far between black MPs and the few black advocate organizations, no party leader in Canada spoke about these issues affecting the black communities in Canada. I didn’t see any candidate on tv or in newspapers campaigning in predominately black neighbourhoods. Yet Black Canadians continue to vote and in my experience, most blacks vote Liberal. It’s like a woman loving a man who doesn’t love her. The only time Canada sees Black Canadians is when they win Olympic medals and basketball championships. Imagine a Canadian invented basketball but the game is dominated by Americans and it took Black men to bring the game back to Canada. So humbly ask…where is the Black Canadian voice????
When I look at Black Americans, I see a totally different political involvement and treatment towards Black voters. I also see a different political interest and engagement by Black Americans compared to Black Canadians. There is a movement in the United States called ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves) founded by Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore. This group’s ideology is about changing the system through politics to institute reparative justice for centuries of abuse and slavery that African Americans endured and continue to endure. ADOS people built America but they were never afforded the riches resulting from the empire they built with their blood, sweat, and tears. ADOS people are not to be confused with Black immigrants in America. ADOS people can trace their lineage back to when the first enslaved African people were brought to American in the bottom of slave ships. They have been in America for over four hundred years and have endured, Jim Crow Laws, segregation, redlining, mental and physical abuse, police brutality, and I could go on and on. Today, the racism and abuse continue with mass incarceration of black men, police brutality, predatory lending organizations, job discrimination, poor housing, complete neglect of black neighbourhoods, disproportionately high black child poverty–sounds familiar? The median net worth of white Americans is $171,000 which is 10 times more than Black Americans. (see figure 1 below).
In the U.S. in 2016, median wealth for white families was $171,000, still 10 times that for blacks and roughly eight times that for Latinos. (U.S. Federal Reserve) (https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/federal-reserve-wealth-survey-1.4309933)
As the US presidential campaigns are underway, ADOS has been shouting at the top of their lungs for reparations. Compared to an almost silent black advocacy in Canada. When it comes to wealth and income inequality, Canadian Blacks and ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves) appear to share the same problem (see figure 2 below). I admire the ADOS movement and how they put their words to action and have been making big enough waves that have politicians including Trump to notice them and their demands for reparations. Although the current US government has tried to silence them, they continue to push on and educate their people about politics and how it can be used to bring about change for the ADOS people. The ADOS movement has brought about awareness of the state of Black Americans and the increasing inequality and systemic racism that persists. The need for reparative justice for ADOS people. The ADOS group has at least one presidential candidate Marianne Williamson speaking about reparations and the need for the American government to do right by its ADOS people. What can I say, but I wish there was a Black Canadian movement like ADOS that would penetrate the ears of Canadian politicians and possibly begin dialogue addressing the systemic racism that continues to plague Black Canadians.
“Using census data, we compare the economic status of blacks and whites in two neighbouring countries – the USA and Canada – examining the effects of international migration of people of colour upon systems of racial hierarchy. At first impression, the racial income gap is markedly smaller in Canada than in the USA. However, this is largely due to the relative sizes of first-, second- and third-plus-generation immigrants in each country. Once this is taken into account, we find that racial income and wage gaps are quite similar in the two countries, raising the puzzle of why nations with such divergent institutional histories produce similar levels of racial inequality”.
In conclusion, I voted for the party that seems to address issues that affect Black Canadians. Although the party did not talk about a black agenda, some of their policies would indirectly benefit Black Canadians. Needless to say, I don’t feel optimistic because I am sure you can guess the party I voted for did not win this election. I encourage my fellow Black Canadians to break out of the A-political trance and get more involved in politics at least on the local level. Vet the person who represents your riding and if you voted for that person make sure you hold them accountable if they don’t live up to their promises. I know I will be doing that and will do my best to share knowledge with my fellow Black Canadians so that we may be able to vote for our best interest and be heard! I’ll continue to listen to the ADOS group and see how I can apply their model to bring about the necessary changes needed for Black Canadians. It’s time we are recognized for our contributions made in the building of this great country.