The following is a partial text of Queenston resident Yvonne Bredow’s speech to the crowd at last week’s anti-racism rally at Voices of Freedom Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Special to The Lake Report
I have never experienced the violence or death that our friends south of the border face on a daily basis.
But what I have experienced are racial remarks and have seen racial profiling at work and in other businesses.
Hearing the “N-word” being used as if it is funny – guess what? It’s NOT.
These things leave scars on my heart.
Some well-meaning folks think if we stop talking about racism it will magically disappear – like the smell of a fart.
People might try to be polite and ignore it, but everyone knows it’s there.
So, my day often consists of hearing:
“What are you?”
“How do you get your perm so tight?”
“Can I touch your hair?”
“Ya know, if you grew out your hair and straightened it, you could pass for white.”
“Why in the world would you tell anybody that you are black?”
“Coon” and, of course, the N-word.
I am really tired of hearing people react by saying:
“I can’t believe this.”
“I had no idea.”
“This can’t be real.”
Our pain is so off your radar that it shocks you.
The news that keeps me up at night on any given day hasn’t really been a topic of conversation in your world.
So, I bet you are tired of hearing about racism.
Just imagine how tired we are of experiencing it!
I’d like every white person in this park who would be happy to be treated as this society treats black people to raise your hand …
(Silence and no one raises a hand)
OK, let’s try this again, I don’t think you understood:
If any white people want to be treated as black people are treated, please … raise your hand.
(Again, silence and no hands raised)
No one is raising their hand.
That says plainly that you know what’s happening.
You know you don’t want this for you!
Why are you so willing to accept it or allow it to happen to others?