Toronto police are back in the Pride parade what’s racism got to do with it?

Toronto police can apply again to march in their uniforms as an official delegation in the annual Pride parade.At a.


Toronto police can apply again to march in their uniforms as an official delegation in the annual Pride parade.

At a press conference to announce the change in policy during the municipal election last month, Prides Black executive director, Olivia Nuamah, the citys Black chief of police, Mark Saunders, and white mayor, John Tory, were all smiles.

But for many Black folks watching the scene unfold, it is difficult not to notice how Black people now represent the face of a decision that is harmful to other Black people and marginalized queer people. They are the face of a decision that refuses to acknowledge that these same communities are more heavily policed than others in their everyday lives, which is what made the original decision to exclude police necessary.

Pride TO announced this policy reversal without consulting its members, who had in two previous heated meetings voted to direct its board to withdraw police participation in the parade. The decision was in support of demands made by Black Lives Matter Toronto after they were invited to march in Pride as an honoured group in 2016.

For the board to now unilaterally reverse that decision is a slap in the face and a recognition that membership in the organization means little and is simply cover for a board that can ultimately act without restraint or sanction.

Nuamah claims there was consultation. And Toronto police believe that being invited back to march represents their ongoing commitment to making things right with the queer community despite recent police investigations that have failed people of colour, trans and other marginalized members of the queer community. The mayor, meanwhile, just wants everyone to get along so that the celebratory dollars can keep rolling into city businesses during Pride.

Pride TO has decided that money and a big flashy parade are more important than political principles and marginalized people in our communities.

Those of us who oppose the police returning to Pride have another idea about funding and politics we think a smaller parade without the police, without the corporations and without threats from politicians would be a better parade.

A smaller Pride that values its community members and that takes its requests seriously would send a strong message to institutions like the police that queer people, all of us with our various and multiple differences, intend to be fully free.

A smaller Pride would also send a message where it hurts most, to the business community that depends on festival dollars but is generally silent on queer abuse. A smaller Pride can begin to lead the necessary political change needed to fix the planet we are destroying.

Queers have often been ahead of the political curve on all kinds of matters and a smaller parade with a smaller climate footprint might be the most important thing we need at this historical moment in human life.

Rinaldo Walcott is director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of -Toronto.

@nowtoronto

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