Last year, we had Dru Bex on Community During Chaos to talk about his experiences as a Canadian during 2020. During the conversation, Bex explained how the discussion of racism in Canada is becoming a larger issue now.
The biggest difference Bex has experienced between the United States and Canada is the history of people of color in each country. Unlike the United States, Bex said the majority of black people in Canada are immigrants from abroad. There are some black people whose descendants fled to the country to escape slavery in America. Most are not from America, however.
“[The immigrants] came smack dab to the most metro [city]. Pretty much the New York of Canada, which is Toronto,” Bex said.
Coming from their native home, immigrants traveling to Canada did not have to deal with daily racism. Bex said that because of that lack of experience, first-generation black Canadians do not have warnings from their parents about racism. That plus living in a culturally diverse area makes some Canadians not understand how prevalent racism is in the United States and Canada.
“If you were fortunate enough to live in an area where you had white friends, Asian friends, Indian friends, Arabic friends, and you were fortunate enough to live in an area where you weren’t exposed to as much racism as you would be if you were from one of the hoods in the states, you might grow up being like ‘I don’t understand why everyone is making such a big fuss about this’.”
The conversation is changing, however. Bex said he experienced the most overt racism traveling through the southern countryside while on tour. Other black Canadians are leaving Toronto more frequently and experiencing overt racism.
“What’s happening now though is, because of the cost of living in Toronto, a lot of black people in the Toronto area are being forced to move out to the country areas.”