I read a powerful opinion editorial in the Globe and Mail this weekend. Penned by Toronto-born Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter Dan Hill. He wrote the book I Am My Father’s Son: A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness. He has been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. His brother Lawrence Hill wrote the award-winning novel The Book of Negroes.
In the Globe and Mail piece he wrote that his dad was Black and his mom was white. In 1954, his mom went into labour a month early with Dan, and she was in great pain when his dad carried her into the Emergency Department in Toronto. They sat in the empty waiting room for 90 minutes as she suffered. Then three doctors came in and told them she was not in labour. She had appendicitus. They sent his dad home and put his mom under with anesthesia. They removed her healthy appendix. Then two hours after the surgery, her water broke, and they realized she was in labour as the couple had explained. Soon Dan was born.
Dan’s dad went on to earn his PhD in Sociology and become the first commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. And his parents founded the Ontario Black History Society in 1978.
Dan has recently written and recorded a song called What About Black Lives? He writes, “Like my enslaved ancestors so many generations ago, like my parents dancing to jazz in our suburban living room, I still find my solace in music. Will the pain of hundreds upon hundreds of years of racism ever start to subside? Still, like my dad, granddad and great-granddad before me, I continue to hold out hope for a more humane and compassionate world. Lastly, I am forever heartened and encouraged whenever I think of my grandfather’s quote to members of his parish when they were suffering. ‘I will prop you up on every leaning side.'”
This is one of countless stories of racism and oppression. May we never stop talking about how we can learn from the past and once we know better, may we do better.