Calgary's mayor is being applauded for his moving words on racism in Canada
"Like many of you, I have been profoundly disturbed by, well, everything this past week," he wrote. "We've been reminded of the reality of racism, here and everywhere."
He began by sharing "Harlem," a poem written in 1951 by acclaimed Black American poet Langston Hughes.
What happens to a dream deferred?— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) June 2, 2020
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Nenshi admitted that there's no clear path forward to healing the divisions in our society.
"I've spent much of my life fighting for human rights. I've worked within the system, and even got elected to office," he said. "I've also organized and participated in many peaceful protests. I've tried to ease that heavy load. But I don't have all the answers."
He says that while so much has changed for minority communities and people of colour, "it has not changed enough."
Nenshi says that it's easy for Canadians to separate ourselves from the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minnesota by imagining that systemic racism doesn't exist in Canada, but that, in fact, it does.
... and be smug in our comfort that we live up here.— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) June 2, 2020
I am such a proud Canadian. I’m so grateful that my parents chose this place. But we must fight racism here too.
Nenshi pointed to an incident that happened earlier this week, when Minister Ahmed Hussen was called a derogatory term by the founding chairman of the United Conservative Party after Hussen shared his experience of racism in Canada.
"When a federal minister spoke of his experience as a Black man in Canada this week, and his concerns for his children, he was derided, even called 'an f**n loser,'" Nenshi wrote.
These were the words that Hussen shared.
Anti-black racism does not stop at the border.— Ahmed Hussen (@HonAhmedHussen) May 31, 2020
I have heard from people who have said that we should not worry about what is happening in the US because that is not our problem.
As a Black man & a father of 3 young boys, I can tell you it is a lived reality for Black Canadians.
"When I raise issues of racism in the community myself, I'm often accused of playing the 'race card,'" Nenshi wrote. "Trust me, the race card is very rarely part of a winning hand."
"It's not enough to not be a racist in our own lives," he said. "We need to commit to being anti-racist and actively condemn racism wherever we see it."
But I believe the vast majority of Canadians want to build a more just society, and now is the time that all of us need to do more.— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) June 2, 2020
It’s not enough to not be a racist in our own lives. We need to commit to being anti-racist and actively condem racism wherever we see it.
Nenshi says that he is "very proud" of Calgarians for coming together to protest against anti-Black racism in recent days, although he reminded Canadians that there are still technically public health limitations on gatherings of large groups.
He also addressed the Calgary Police Service, saying that they have "been on a long and continuing journey to be better allies to all they serve, particularly those in marginalized communities."
"We all need to come together," he said. "To stand for what's right. That's the only way to make the world a better place."
And we all need to come together. To stand for what’s right. That’s the only way to make the world a better place. For everyone. Let’s not wait to see what happens to that deferred dream.— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) June 2, 2020
Let’s make the dream come true for all of us.
Nenshi has received widespread praise for his stirring words, with dozens of people applauding the mayor for speaking out against racism in Canada.
"[We] need more people like Nenshi in Canada," one person wrote.
"Proud you are my mayor," another one said. "Thank you."
Sorry for spamming my feed but I think the way mayor @nenshi is handling the situation is an important lesson for everyone especially other mayors or governors— Adam Duke (@Adamnduck1) June 2, 2020
"Well put, Nenshi," one person wrote. "Let's keeping working on this, every day."
"For Canadians, this whole thread is worth reading," another person said. "I'm in BC, not Alberta, but it applies across Canada. And Nenshi is one of the best leaders we have."
"Thank [you] Mayor Nenshi for saying what so many of us are unable to say," yet another person said. "Your words have touched my heart."
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