Greg Fergus, the Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer, Quebec, tells a story of what it was like as a black person growing up in white Montreal.
Speaking at the Malvern Presbyterian church in Toronto on Saturday at a celebration to mark Black History Month and the 150th anniversary of Confederation, he recalled an incident when he and his father were driving in a car through the streets of Montreal.
He said his father who was behind the wheel, was stopped by a policeman who looked at his ID and ” asked him several questions.
“When my father asked why he was stopped, the policeman said two Black teenagers had committed a crime.
” My 51-year old father then asked him whether he (my father) looked like a teenager.”
” This demonstrates the kind of prejudice we, as Black people, have faced over the years,” said Fergus who was a guest of fellow Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree who represents the riding of Scarborough- Rouge River.
Fergus noted that while the Muslims face a “special type of prejudice and are demonized in the media, members of our Black community are criminalized ”
But he remains optimistic about the future.
Fergus who grew up in Montreal’s West island said he was ” a minority in a minority – being Black in a White community, Christian in a Jewish community and English in a French province” and this made him “sensitive to the majorities” around him.
He explained that in such a situation black people were taught to be listeners and to be “great negotiators.
” We understand multiculturalism on a nuclear level. We don’t have a monochromatic view of the world.We have the ability to negotiate with the understanding of all sides and this is very important for the world today, if we hope to survive as a civilization or a species in the twenty- first century.”