“We have come too far.

We can’t turn around.

We’ll flood the streets with justice.

We are freedom bound.”

Early this morning, I listened to a young woman sing these words over and over as part of a vigil for Minneapolis.

I do not know where these words come from, but I can hear the heartache in them, the longing. I hear people weary from a struggle but with certain knowledge that there is only one way forward. From the struggles of African Americans for freedom, in the desperation for change heralded by riots by the riots, those of us who are privileged to be white may finally be beginning to understand.

I hope that this is true.

In Canada, we have not seen this level of violence and so it is easy to believe that black Canadians have a better life. Canada was the destination of the Underground Railroad, after all. We do not have race riots like those in Minneapolis.

But we are still colour-blind. We still do not see that black Canadians have different lives and face similar prejudice. They are more often imprisoned than white Canadians. They are less likely to finish high school or college or university. They are underrepresented in the professions. All of these circumstances occur because we also have prejudice in Canada.

In the past few months, when Canadians have had more opportunities to physically isolate – and have done so – it is easy to think that, since we have seemed unified about how to respond to COVID-19, we are more united.

But this is not true, and it’s easy to forget this.

( This is Sylvia Hamilton, a Nova Scotia Artist, speaking at the Here We Are Here exhibit. The picture was taken by Tim Krochak for the Halifax Chronicle Herald.)

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