This is why I feel old. Two milestone events occurred this week — one universal and one controversial — that I do not know what it was like to live before them. There’s an obvious disconnect with particular people — oh, we can still be friends and live peacefully but there’s an issue of TIME; I can never truly understand what it was like to exist without the laws Martin Luther King Jr. helped enact for the Civil Rights Movement. I have a common — and growing idea of Roe vs. Wade.
I am not 50 as of yet — so I have absolutely no idea what it was like before he affirmed to the world that he had a dream. Most of you have not noticed as of yet, but I am a man of color. I’m terribly grateful that all of my friends see me by my merits and heart and not because of the science of my skin color. We’re all different from each other — obviously — but we all share the same passion to make where we live a better place. Would I have been able to share my thoughts to you in this medium as freely as I do in 1962? Even as a dark-skinned Canadian with a Caucasian wife? Please, give me some time to chuckle.
I love being here and sharing my experiences with all kinds people, regardless of their “look,” beliefs and differences. We help each other. We have fun. That’s how it SHOULD BE. I just can’t comprehend living in a world where I could have walked into … anywhere without genuinely fearing for my safety because of what I look like — even though a law had been previously enacted guaranteeing my freedom 100 years prior. What an upside-down place that was.
At the same time, if I were in my mother’s womb in 1973 she could have chosen to cross the border and freely make a choice. It’s a big deal here. I was born in 1978 in Toronto. The Criminal Law Amendment Act was introduced by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in 1968. One year later, the law legalized abortion as long as a committee of doctors signed off that it was necessary for the physical or mental well-being of the mother. She could have made a choice. I’m glad she made the one she made.
When I was 10 in 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Morgentaler that the existing laws from 1969 were unconstitutional and struck it down. The then-governing Progressive Conservatives attempted, but failed, to pass a new abortion law. Since then Canada has had no criminal laws governing the subject, and abortion is a decision made by a woman with her doctor. This has been a controversial subject all my life, even though I cannot comprehend a time where a specific choice was not considered illegal.
How I feel about this is my own personal belief, because it is rooted in free-will — and then again, it’s not even mine. It would be with my wife. It is her body, so she can decide what she wants and the law would support her. I know how she feels about it. I still have difficulty deciding what I would do if placed in a situation where a particular choice was an issue. If an abortion could save the woman I love, would I be okay with it? I feel the right answer is yes — but otherwise? I’m torn — because it is her choice. The science of her gender should not discriminate her from making a choice about her body. It is a right — and a right that a woman could only understand. Black women and white women.
In body and mind, I am worlds apart from my wife — but you can’t help who you love and want to dance to “Billie Jean” with. We do our best to appreciate the time we live in because if circumstances were different, we could not be together. She has her rights. I have mine. Who we are in body and mind under law cannot discriminate. I am free to be a dark-skinned immigrant with dreams of keeping an awesome film festival in Lima for 50 years. My wife is free to be married to that dark-skinned immigrant, and if she became pregnant — she could freely make a decision that affects her body because it is hers.
Laws based on civil rights are different because everyone is different, and that is why everyone fights for them — in their own way. What a crazy thing this democracy is.