A lot of people are usually dumbfounded when they discover my deep love for Canada or as I affectionately refer to the greatest country on Earth as Canadia: The Magical Land of Awesome (though Britain makes a worthy contender for the title).
Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to relocate to Canada, I mean Canadia, and for many good reasons: Universal healthcare, beautiful people, gay rights, Due South, their tendency not to cause wars. Canada is like America, only….well….better.
Needless to say when I finally got my passport, I knew the first country I would be visiting. My visit to Vancouver was practically surreal for me and in many respects bittersweet.
I was actually able to finally exhale and not be on guard about everything required to survive as a minority in the US. For instance I was able to be out publicly without fear of rebuke. When I went into a store, the white cashiers actually treated me with respect. They didn’t think I was there to rob the place and was actually grateful for my business. People were actually friendly to me and didn’t treat me like a pariah or a savage.
I visited Whistler Mountain and on the bus trip there I was the only black person on the bus. Other passengers included Canadians, French and Australians. They asked about my experiences living in America and what I thought about the job President Obama was doing and the challenges he’s facing as the first black president. When I shared my experiences as a minority, do you know what those white people did? Something I didn’t think was possible. They actually listened. They asked questions for better clarification but they listened and accepted my experiences as my experiences and were respectful. There was none of this gaslighting, bigotry denying/defending or victim-blaming that too many White Americans engage in.
And on Whistler Mountain, I only saw maybe four POCs and I felt completely safe and comfortable. Can’t say the same about any mountain I’ve visited in the South. In fact in the South, the rule is black folks avoid mountains whenever possible. I’m not saying that standing atop Whistler Mountain is similar to looking down from Heaven but……..I actually have no other way to finish that sentence.
In Canadia, even the LGBTQ community was an actual improvement. I went out and enjoyed myself.
In Canadia, I learned that black is indeed beautiful and sexy. And many of the locals were willing to point that out to me over and over and over and over again. Let’s just say Denny made a lot of friends that week. Hehehehehehehehehehehehe.
But the damnedest thing was that one night I was walking back to my hotel and I passed a police cruiser with two white cops inside. I tensed up because I knew this couldn’t end well. Do you know what happened? They smiled at me and resumed their paperwork.
I didn’t want to leave. In fact I seriously contemplated ways to get arrested just so I could be detained in Canada. Roof over my head, three square meals, a bunch of rugged inmates who want to do some “hard time,” not the worst thing that could happen just saying.
Real talk. I know Canada is not perfect. Its got its problems, its bigotries and its sordid history just like every other country. But for me personally (and the next person’s mileage may vary), it’s light years better than “Amerikkka, FUCK NO.”
So I will continue to visit Canadia every chance I get and hopefully one day I’ll get a chance to be a citizen.
America, for better or worse, played a part in making me the man I am today. But it was Canada that allowed me to proudly be the man I am today.
And for that, I will forever be grateful.
TEAM CANAD(I)A REPRESENT!!!!!!!!!!!