RACISM: Alive and Well in Pickering, Durham and Ontario

There’s a young man who lives in our region of Durham, Pickering to be exact and he’s now in his mid-20’s. He’s challenged, autistic,  high functioning. His difficulty is that he finds it very difficult to socialize with anyone. Because of his autism, he withdraws, as if he were intimidated by the conversation. This means any time someone tries to talk to him, he shies away, backs off, as if he is backing away from the conversation as a defensive mechanism.

This lad dresses as any young man of his age would, jeans, jean jacket, a hoodie, a T-shirt and usually loosely laced work boots. Oh, and he’s black with an afro and dreds.

However, he was always good with his hands. He could dismantle almost any broken machine and reassemble it so it operated again. When he got his driver’s license, another story, he started to repair cars. He not only repaired them operationally, but he also restored them physically. Any car he worked on increased in value significantly once he was through with it. But this lad was a saver too. So he bought old, rusty models that needed repair, fixed them up and resold them at a profit, each time buying himself a newer or better model car. In no time, he was driving Honda Accords, Toyota Corollas, Subarus and even an Audi and he was a black driver.

However, as he escalated in the model car he was driving, he was stopped more and more frequently by the local police. “This your car?” “You got registration for this car?” “Who’s car is this?” “Show me your license and registration papers.” The lad never understood why he was being stopped and investigated so frequently. He drove carefully, always within the posted speed limit. Yet, almost daily, he was stopped in order that the driving documentation of this black driver could be verified.

Eventually, the regional police must have stopped him enough times that their computer spit out his name and that his documentation was all valid in an instant when entered or the police became familiar with him, so familiar that they knew this black driver was legit in every way.

Now, this young man has twin sisters, just a couple of years younger than he is. They were super students. Both young women made the dean’s list at their respective universities. Each sailed through university on scholarships and honours lists. They are black. 

Upon graduation, one went into the field of media, being hired as an apprentice producer for a national TV network. She excelled at her job. She is black.

Her twin sister went into another field, the field of finance and began working in the executive offices of one of the big banks, not as a secretary, but as an accountant, a comptroller. She excelled at her job but she was blackEach day, one fellow worker seemed to take liberties with her, or make remarks which would normally be labelled as offensive or as harassment. The remarks were not necessarily sexual in tone. However, they were demeaning remarks, always with a racist slant. Finally, she reached her limit of tolerance and reported him to HR. Ultimately, the matter was taken to court as a legal issue. It wasn’t settled at the bank or by the bank’s HR department. She’s black.

She won her case. The office employee and the bank made formal apologies to the young woman, the court decided on appropriate restitution and today she carries more weight around the offices in which she works even though she is diminutive in size. She’s a giant of a woman in her work and she’s black.

Do you know any stories like these? We sure would like to hear them if you would take the time of sending them to us at Racism here too.

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