Saturday, January 21, 2017

Another Perspective: A Guest Post By Pamela MacNeil

I received two very thoughtful reactions to my post the other day on the decision of the Gay Pride organizers to accede to the demand by Black Lives Matter to exclude the Toronto Police from future participation in the festivities. It is not a decision I agree with, as I outlined in the post.

Both Kirby Evans, one of our top-shelf bloggers, and Pamela MacNeil took issue with my position, and both provided me with alternative perspectives and much food for thought. Because Pamela does not have her own blog, I am taking the liberty, as I have in the past, of featuring her commentary today as a guest post. I think you will find it insightful:

Kirby brings up a really interesting point Lorne that white people like yourself and me have never been victims of racism, so we really can't understand how it affects those who are its victims.

This is an issue I have given a lot of thought to, but have not yet been able to fully answer. I do not really understand racism. I understand it intellectually and even at times emotionally, but I do not understand it as a personal experience.

This leaves me on the outside looking in when wanting to understand racism and those who are its victims. No matter how much I read, and I have read a lot on racism, including slavery, there is a part of me that feels out of the loop when I try to connect with the real victims of racism.

I asked a friend of mine over dinner one night what is it like to be a black man. He said to picture a world where everyday you are confronted mainly from whites, with the nuances of racism. He said this nuance can be from a look, a stereotype statement made about being black, a gesture like a woman holding her purse tighter when she passes a black man. He went on to say that because racism is not explicitly vocalized today, black men and woman have become experts at detecting nuanced racism.

He also said he is not sure about how the racism directed at him as a black man has affected his view of himself. He said he would like to think that it is he himself who defines his self-worth, but he wasn't completely sure that was the case.

I think, Lorne, we are living in a pre-civilization. The fact that racism is still a view that one race of people impose on another is indicative of humankind, for the most part, not intellectually, socially, psychologically, philosophically or spiritually advancing and becoming a civilization. We still have a long way to go.

Having said all that, I disagree with the gay community excluding the police at the behest of Black Lives Matter. I think when you isolate a group, you close the door on being able to communicate with them and communicating is the number one tool for change.

First Nations who have been subjected to past genocidal abuse and racism, which exists up to the present day, have always believed in inclusion. In fact, John Ralston Saul has said the root idea of our multicultural society comes from the First Nations belief in the Inclusive circle.

Inclusion is an important part of First Nations philosophy, and they have always practised it amongst different tribes to stop the warring between these tribes. They also welcomed the new settlers to Canada before confederation. They did this by welcoming these settlers into what they called the inclusive circle. They are still doing this inclusive circle with others in the present day.

It has and still does take enormous strength and courage to be inclusive with the very people who set out to obliterate or, at the very least, contain them. In the First Nations long road to reconciliation, they have understood the need for inclusion, even when the extent of abuse by white people, who were nothing short of barbarians, was at its most violent. It was the whites who tried to separate and isolate First Nations. It was First Nations who brought those same whites into their inclusive circle and as a result made reconciliation possible. There is still a long way to go in recognizing the sovereign rights of First Nations and maybe, just maybe, we will be sharing political power with them one day.


  1. Desmond Cole, columnist for the Toronto Star and host on NewsTalk 1010 makes an important point that is missed by most. BLM protested the manner in which the police participated.

    The vote to support the BLM addresses the inappropriate use of a police inmate transport bus, an overwhelming large number of police marchers, and their use of sirens in the parade.

    The "ban" is not a ban of police in general. In fact, many welcome the good natured flying of pride colours on a police cruiser and by some of the duty officers working the parade. However, someone needed to point out that the presence of paddy wagon in the parade sends, at least a mixed message. Is this police "show of force" an appropriate remembrance of the bathhouse raids? The parade originated as a response by the gay community to bathhouse raids, an abuse of police authority.

    Toronto Police really need to rethink their approach to participation. A paramilitary organization that proved they still have little regard for human rights by their abuse of protesters during the G20 conference needs a more nuanced approach.


    1. Thanks for shedding more light on the situation, p2p. I was not aware of the things you point out, and you indeed add another dimension entirely to this discussion.

  2. I retired to a remarkably "white bread" town. Coming from a major city where whites were merely the largest minority group, it took me a couple of years before I stopped noticing the whiteness of this town. Yet I've never heard anyone here say they're glad for the near absence of ethnic minorities. We reserve our bigotry for the "oil patch retiree" crowd from Alberta.