Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Obama Effect

Check it out, my brother being interviewed on about the Obama effect.

Obama offers African-Canadians hope of 'fuller citizenship'
Updated Sat. Feb. 14 2009 9:01 AM ET
Parminder Parmar, News
Until the day he left South Africa for Canada as a teenager in the mid-1970s, Barry Thomas' birth certificate told the world not only his name, but also assigned him his official designation. He was "Cape Coloured," it said plainly, chaining him to a lower rung of Apartheid's racial hierarchy.
"I grew up going to coloured washrooms, going to the coloured side of the post office, the police stations, and the coloured side of the hospital," he told from Toronto, where he is now a manager at Toronto Community Housing.
As someone who had been judged and categorized by the colour of his skin since the day he was born, he fought against his country's racist system. Even as a high school student, he struggled alongside freedom fighter Stephen Biko before heading to Canada.
"Since I've been in Canada, I've seen incredible things (like) the end of Berlin Wall. I've seen end of Soviet Union. I've seen (Nelson) Mandela freed from jail. And now I can crown it off with seeing Barack Obama as president of the United States," he says.
Thomas sees Obama's rise as another monumental step in the fight against racism, not just in the United States, but in Canada and around the world.
"I see Mandela. I see Mandela," he says about Obama.
"They are completely comfortable in their own skin. They know what they have to do."
Thomas isn't the only African Canadian who has forged "a special connection" with the new American president. In fact, about 200 people showed up to a forum Thomas and his colleagues at Toronto Community Housing organized in early February to discuss what an Obama presidency means for Canada and African Canadians.
Thomas, who is married to an Indo-Canadian and has two children growing up in a multicultural world that is vastly different than the one he knew as a child, says Obama's presidency is the key to teaching his children about their history and their future.
"We have an entire young generation who have grown up without apartheid. The complication is about how to teach them our history without giving them the same pain. You must teach them history and context," he says, noting that Obama is showing children of all races that their potentials are based on merit, not skin colour.
"I am hoping that Obama gives (our children) an opportunity to see that you just need to be good. You don't have to be twice as good (as whites). You just have to have a consciousness of who you are."
Good job, I duly am impressed!
Story and pictures courtesy of

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