Former Victorian man seeks to bridge gap in understanding of Canadian black experience – Saanich News

As a bi-racial man who has lived throughout Canada and speaks both of its official languages, Stephen Dorsey has a unique view of the country.

She was raised in a mostly white environment, but her black skin color meant she experienced racial discrimination growing up, even from her white stepfather.

“I was reminded by others from a very young age that I was different, and of course (there were) slurs.”

Dorsey, who now lives in the Toronto area, spent his teenage years in Victoria after being abandoned at the age of 14. By then, she had to learn what it meant to be Black, apart from what she saw in pop culture and the media.

His education never included the story of black people in Canada, and instead, he had just presented a whitewashed, colonial view of how Canada came to be. It wasn’t until his 40s that he learned about the existence of slavery in Canada and the many injustices against the natives. He later witnessed the Black Lives Matter movement calling for more equitable social reforms and the killing of George Floyd prompted a global reckoning about race.

All of his life experiences, his thoughts on the changes needed to overcome systemic racism, and his background as a professional communicator led him to put them all into a book called Black and White: An Intimate, Multicultural Perspective on the “White Advantage” and the Path to Change.

“I think I’m helping bridge the gaps in understanding and I hope that’s what my book will do,” he said in an interview following the book’s release last month.

Dorsey hopes he can share an overarching view of past truths with white people who may not have had such a bad view of history. People who have faced adversity on a non-race basis have expressed concern about the term white privilege to him. That’s why Dorsey uses the term white advantage, which his book explains by acknowledging the dark chapters of Canada’s past and the realities of systemic racism that continues to affect the country.

Canada has long touted itself as a nation of multicultural equality, but hiding historical truth means work still needs to be done to realize its own ideals, Dorsey said.

“Many people are unaware of the past and the reality that continues to harm members of the BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) community.”

If Canadians open themselves up to learning and hearing some of those hard truths, Dorsey says, they may “have their own awareness of the problem of systemic racism – and (ask) ‘What can I do?’”

“If we really do the work and we come together, then we will get to a place where we can all live better together in a society that is more equal and fair to all Canadians.”

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