Sermons and Talks

Reflections on Martin Luther King

Excerpts from Apr 15/18 Sermon

Article “Martin Luther King, 50 years after his assassination”: George Elliott Clarke talked in this article about ongoing racial discrimination’s roots and continuing impact in our city. Clarke is a professor in the University of Toronto’s department of English and Canada’s former parliamentary poet laureate. Patrick Gossage quoted him in a sermon on Sunday April 15. Highlights below.

How should we embrace his message now, especially with the rise of white supremacists?

Look, the whole planet went through 500 years of white European control from the beginning of the 16th century to the beginning of the 21st century. That European Caucasian control of the entire planet, economically, politically and militarily, it had to include notions of white supremacy. Even though many nations are now free of obvious European control and are able to enjoy more self-determination, it doesn’t mean that the underlying ideology of white supremacy has disappeared. It’s still here. We see it in terms of carding here in Toronto where police officers want to stop somebody who happens to be brown or Black, and ask them to explain why they are where they are. This is because of the white supremacist view that Black people especially shouldn’t be able to enjoy freedom of mobility. Even though slavery is long over, it doesn’t mean the attitude that Black people should not be able to move freely has disappeared.

Same with stopping people for driving the wrong kind of car or living in the wrong kind of neighbourhood. The idea behind those notions, right here in Toronto, right here in Canada, is that Black and brown people should be poor. They should have to always justify their possessions, whether it’s an expensive car, expensive house or expensive neighbourhood by essentially demonstrating that we’ve been permitted to have these items because we’re understood to be OK, because otherwise we should be somebody’s employee, somebody’s peon, we should be somebody’s “slave.” Those attitudes, even though they’re not often voiced, still persist in our society. Canada, like the United States, was a slave-holding society. Just because we got rid of slavery, or the British Empire did in 1834, doesn’t mean that the attitudes that supported slavery disappeared. They’re still there. Just like the attitudes that oppressed Indigenous people. Residential schools may be long gone – that does not mean that the attitudes that allowed for residential schools have disappeared. That’s the struggle that exists now. If we really want to have real liberty and real equality, we have to overthrow all these notions that justify white privilege and white power.

(submitted by Patrick Gossage)