The first Black Canadian Member of Parliament
To be the first, a trailblazer must be an amazing feeling. The sense of pride one feels would always be tempered with the internal pressure of living up to the position. Sometimes I doubt I could do it. Frequently, the burden of being the only person of colour in a lot of the events and situations I find myself in has sometimes seemed too much to bear. To be a trailblazer inherently means that one is also alone.
The end result though, always makes it worth it. If you can be the light that leads the way for others, then your pain and sacrifice can be the fuel that drives those that come after you. Some people, like Lincoln Alexander blaze a multitude of trails. He is best known for being the first Black Canadian Member of Parliament, but he has done so much more. He fought in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, was Minister of Labour, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, member of the order of Ontario and Canada, as well as Chancellor of the University of Guelph. His list of honors is extremely comprehensive, but more than anything, the fact that he was elected, did his job with the utmost of dignity and could serve as an inspiration to millions of little boys and girls is the greatest honor of all.
From his humble beginnings, through hard work, education and dedication, he managed to accomplish great things. The one disappointment I feel is that the book that he opened all those years ago has been stuck on the first chapter for too long. In the years since he became the first Black Canadian MP, the number of Black MPs has remained frustratingly low. The truth is Canada has talked a bigger game than it has actually performed especially when it comes to promoting Blacks in Politics. The current numbers are hard to come by, but the number of blacks in elected office is quite sparse. It’s up to the newer generations to keep the flag flying high, to ensure that all he endured was not in vain.
Growing up in a white land, I just felt that I had to do better. Being the only black kid [in my school], I thought ‘I can’t be seen as the dumbest.’ I stood out, and I didn’t want them to point at me and say ‘There’s another nigger who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ So being black in a white society was a plus for me because it made me work harder; I strived to be better. I strove to do more than I could adequately do. I went above and beyond.