Reporter, CBC Hamilton
CBC News reached him in New York City to talk about his experiences as a black man, the violence he's seeing in the world, and why Black Lives Matter interrupted the Toronto Pride Parade to protest.
Q: How have the events of the last few weeks made you feel?
Whenever we walk down the street, the visible police presence is shocking. It's hyper-visible, they make themselves known, there's a tension that happens when large groups of black people pass by them. I think [the U.S.] specifically is very overt about their police presence and does it in a way that's in your face and not shameful, which is pretty scary. I find that when I'm here, I'm always looking behind my back.
And when I'm here, I'm really being cognisant of the way that I walk, the way that I talk, the way that I portray myself, with the realization that just the day before I came here, the police killed an unarmed black man in Brooklyn, and I'm staying in Brooklyn.
I also think there are folks who know that it's an issue, but … aren't willing to do anything about it. A lot of people have read the statistics, a lot of people know that that's the reality. But they have either created a false narrative in their head that says "therefore if you are getting policed more often, it's because you deserve it," a blame the victim narrative, or they actually created a narrative in their head that says police are justified in the work they are doing, and that the police are doing this work to provide safety for them.
When people say we hijacked the parade or took over the parade, that assumption negates the fact that that parade belongs to us as much as it belongs to anyone else — and by us, I mean queer and trans black people.
A lot of our criticism comes from non-queer people, whose only investment in the queer community has been the one Sunday, which says a lot. They think that the fighting for queer and trans struggles is coming to Pride for three hours in July. People can't actually fathom and understand that being queer and trans and being black also means you have an added layer not only to homophobia and transphobia, [but] it's racialized.
Q: The most prevalent criticism is the call Black Lives Matter made to exclude police officers in uniform at Pride. Should police and people of colour march side by side at the parade?