Jun 2020 01


Posted In Blog,The world


I remember the first time I really thought about inequality and how people are viewed or treated differently because of their background. Discrimination and Racism, really. But I didn’t call it either of those things. Racism was the stuff in textbooks from the American Civil War, or on some TV Afterschool Special. It wasn’t ‘here’.

I know the exact moment, though.

Amazingly, it wasn’t until I was in Grade 6. Which meant I was around 11 years old.

I grew up in Rexdale, a suburb northwest of Toronto that was and still is a mish-mash of new Canadians and cultures and skin tones. We were all just thrown in together, and for a long time I was happily naïve about anyone being different. Being ‘white’ was definitely the minority. So since we were all ‘different’, none of us were, y’know?

School. Physical Education Health Class. Grade 6.

Our teacher was talking about, and I kid you not, why black athletes were faster than white athletes.

And he asked the class for our opinions on why.

One classmate who was black (I do remember his name), put up his hand.

TEACHER: Yes. Why do you think that is?

KID: Because we practice running from the cops, sir.

CLASS: (hilarious laughter from all of us, across skin tones and backgrounds and deliverer of line looked at all of us and smiled with perfect comic timing, proud he had landed this joke)

TEACHER: Leave this class right now and report to the Office.

I went home thinking this guy was hilarious, but with my first revealing of how he was being programmed and how we were all being programmed. I had to have a good think.

Was this true? Was he being chased by the Police just for being black? Is this what happens?

What was going on here?

What didn’t I know?

Sadly, a lot.