R.C.M.P. Musical Ride
On Aug 25th , 2017, I went to the RCMP Musical Ride at Topaz Park in Victoria BC to celebrate Canadas’ 150 th birthday. The weather was perfect. The performance was excellent. Canadians were proud and appreciative by their applause. Through much of the performance my concentration was distracted by thoughts of what had happened on August 12th.
On August 12th in Charlottesville, VA, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Alt-Right trolls, and KKK members converged at Emancipation Park in order to hold a protest to “Unite the Right” and in support of a statue of Confederate general, Robert E Lee, which was slated to be removed. While the protest was advertised as a broad mobilization across the right-wing and advertised as a “free speech” rally, the only groups organizing for the event and the only people speaking at it were all connected to the racist Alt-Right and various neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate groups. They came with clubs, guns, chains and yelled racial and hateful slogans. A car had been used as a weapon to hurt, maime and kill by the racists.
When my mind came back from those horrid scenes I noticed that there was one female member of the RCMP who had black skin like the black RCMP horse she was riding. She rode her horse most brilliantly. Beside me, stretched out on the grass I could see two long, black legs of a teenage boy. Most other legs in the vicinity were white, or tanned, or Asian, or indigenous, or East Indian. All legs were included. But a small white boy could not help but look at those black legs and at the black boy’s body directly. He turned and stared. I looked obliquely not turning my head. My action gave me a sense of normaility. But inside, I felt an urge to say something, like “Look at that lady RCMP constaple. She could be your mom. Be proud. Colour doesn’t matter in Canada.” But I didn’t. I didn’t speak to that young man. The movement of the musical ride, red serge uniforms of the Mounties on black thoroughbreds, the intricate manoevers at walk,trot and gallop gave me a sense of pride in being Canadian. Thoughts of Charlottesville faded. When the musical ride was over, and the riders brought their horses up to the rope fence, I expected the black teenager to go talk to the black rider. But he walked away seemingly with no interest. Did he treat her as just any other rider? Does colour not matter in Canada at 150? Why had I felt uncomfortable about a white kids’ reaction to black legs?