In solidarity with those who face discrimination
“ON THE BOATS and on the planes, they’re coming to America. Never looking back again, they’re coming to America.”
In 1985, this Neil Diamond hit was my favourite song. Somewhere there’s a VHS tape of me lip syncing to it with a wooden spoon for a microphone. As a kid who grew up near a border city, our family was in the States every other weekend. It was a truly magical place. The land of the free and home of the brave.
The U.S.A. has changed significantly in the past 30 years — and even more in the past 30 days. The new government has deemed it fit to ban certain religions and races from entering the country. Many people have halted their vacations and trips until things get better, or at least until there is more clarity on what is really going on. But what happens when you have to go to America for business?
I had a speaking gig booked for April, in California — a very blue state. The organization I’m speaking for is amazing — the essential work they do for their communities is inspiring. It’s a great opportunity for my company and me. Furthermore, being a white male would probably eliminate a lot of the problems with crossing the border. So why should I be concerned?
I asked my fiancé what he thought of me travelling to the U.S. and his response cleared everything up for me, “I don’t think you or I would have any problems crossing over into the US. But if we think our friends or fellow Canadians might have legitimate fears about trying to cross the border, then we shouldn’t go either.”
For me, the best thing about being Canadian is that we look after one another — with our social services, community programs and healthcare system. That’s Canada. Every person is going to have to make the decision to cross the border or not for themselves. And as long as people are being hassled because of the colour of their skin or their religion, I won’t go.
Employees at my company may still travel there for business, if the decision is right for them. It’s a personal choice, and for me, until Lady Liberty opens her arms once again and embraces everyone, I won’t be visiting my friends to the south — for business or pleasure.