Peter Bevan-Baker on the importance of acting against racial discrimination

I’d like to give gratitude to the Premier for his remarks and also many other members of this Legislature who spoke eloquently on this issue already today.

History teaches us that human society lurches forward, not in a smooth, straight line, but evenly and often violently. Personally, I don’t remember a time when I’ve been more aware of the uneasiness that I sense all around me. The layering of a health emergency, on top of an economic convulsion and now acute societal restlessness is making us all feel deeply anxious. When things are moving so fast, it’s tempting to look for quick fixes. But more often than not, those impulses not only don’t work, but they may contribute to the problem. There are no easy or fast solutions to problems that have their roots reaching back decades and even centuries and are embedded in systemic exploitation, injustice and inequality. That is true for a number of issues: climate change, poverty, racism, all of these are created and perpetuated, at least in part, by systemic exploitation, injustice and inequality.

Even though there are no quick fixes and the real solutions lie in profound and radical change, we mustn’t react or move slowly. We need each and every one of us to contribute to leaning into the discomfort that we are all currently feeling and pressing towards peace, towards justice and towards equality.

If enough of us all do that, pushing purposefully and persistently in the same direction towards the better, towards the more unified, towards the collective wellbeing, we can begin to overcome the pain and the division that has built up between us over generations.

We are all connected to each other in ways that we often can’t see and we don’t fully understand. Although it may appear that this latest outbreak of anti-black racism may have started far away in another country, the same arid and bloody ground on which this unrest was born is present all around this troubled world.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It is our duty as citizens of an interconnected world to speak up and denounce hatred, injustice and racism when we see it anywhere.

The legacy of slavery, racism and oppression continues to take new, everchanging forms in our society. Like those who fought it in the past, we must confront it whenever and wherever it appears and not let it take toot.

I’ve often said during this pandemic that there is no place in this whole wide world that I’d rather be right now than here on Prince Edward Island. I continue to feel that way, but we must not forget that we have issues here, too. Prejudice, a lack of inclusion and overt racism are sadly no stranger to our Island. As leaders, each and every one of us in this Legislature bears special responsibilities. While we often say the right words, it is through our actions, our daily actions inside this House and in our communities where we must consistently and continually foster kindness, gentleness and love for each other.

 

Green Party and Official Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker spoke these words in the PEI Legislature on June 2, 2020, as recorded in Hansard.