I’m Native American. Specifically, a Spokane Indian. An Interior Salish. There are Salish people across the Canadian border. There are many aspects of language and culture that are very similar. We’re talking at least 15,000 years of similarity. And, yet, that border, only a couple hundred years ago, has separated us in profound ways. Before this Strauss post, I reflexively reacted to Broussard’s statement—thought of it as being silly, so very American-provincial. But now I understand what he meant.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Ethan Strauss

An underlying issue here (and Broussard's explanatory follow-up Tweet does a little of this, which doesn't help) may be the seemingly routine now(?) running together of the concepts "African-American" and "Black," as if African-American experience is Black experience and Black experience is African-American experience, and if such and such authority suggests that Black is the preferred usage, we should just use that term and we won't lose any crucial linguistic clarity in doing so.

But it's totally believable to me (and seemingly to Ethan, too) that there is a relevant difference between these concepts with regards to lots of issues, and with regards to this issue in particular -- that some with a distinctively African-American background and set of experiences might have a very different, and potentially less comfortable experience in Toronto than, say, a Black Jamaican immigrant. That's not a slam on Toronto's diversity -- I mean, as a Blazers fan, I remember the time Hedo Turkoglu spurned our offer to go play in Toronto, in part because (it was said) his wife wanted to live in a more "international" city than Portland.

But it just has always seemed to me like this linguistic tic might lead to a weird erasure of distinctively African-American cultural experience or at the very least a loss of ability to think clearly about it / frame it accurately, and this might be a case where we see that happening a little bit...?

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Jul 7, 2022·edited Jul 7, 2022Liked by Ethan Strauss

I hadn't seen Broussard's statement and had watched a few of the people on my twitter timeline get angry at him. Now, I understand the issue a bit from Ethan's post and it seems .. a reasonable statement?!

I live in Canada (not in Toronto) and have been to the US a few times and I found it a nice but different experience. Living in Canada was like a buying store-brand version of the US (it is similar but the not the same). The funny thing is that people in other cities here anecdotally, have disdain for Toronto because it is more 'Americanized'; similar to what New York or LA gets from the flyover country I guess.

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Black guy from Toronto here. First: Torontonians can be sensitive. We desperately want to be seen as a world-class city, and the diversity thing is a huge point of pride for the city and its suburbs. For black people here specifically, we mostly feel like Drake has made Toronto cool for Black Americans, and they have for decades flocked here for Caribana. Yes, it's different from living here, but we don't seem to have trouble attracting visitors. And we have a higher Black population than Phoenix, KD's preferred destination.

Maybe Broussard's right; maybe it really does feel different here. The US feels different to me. But I think most Black Torontonians see Black Americans as close cousins rather than strangers, even if that's not reciprocated. Most of our black population is from the Caribbean, but most of us have to some extent adopted American slang, mostly listen to American music, watch American TV, and are otherwise strongly influenced by US black culture. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is one former Raptor who came to our defence from Broussard.

The reaction here is basically: Here's another ignorant American acting like Canada is on another planet, when really we're just the US with fewer guns and French. I mostly agree, but fully admit that I can't speak for the other side.

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Jul 7, 2022·edited Jul 8, 2022

I agree, Ethan. Chris Broussard did nothing wrong. He likely understands Toronto is diverse. And that's just tremendous. It's fun to pop into and enjoy. But Chris wants to live and associate with a non-diverse set of just people like him. And that's OK. What's not OK is poor reading comprehension resulting in condescension for the sake of extolling Diverse zealotry.

But yes, I couldn't have said it better. As in, I actually do not have the ability to be as articulate, thorough, and polite.

I will say, for a great many liberal bumper sticker phrases, terms, and hashtags, I always get back to one question - and it should be applied to any groupthink or idea that has long since been questioned or revisited - "What is the virtue of [idea]?"

In many cases I could already answer that question, but I ask it because I don't believe the person I'm questioning can answer it thoughtfully, may never have tried, and/or may have no interest in trying. In this case, diversity can lead to greater understanding of the world and broaden one's horizons. However, blind "CELEBRATION OF DIVERSITY" is nonsensical. Should I throw confetti at every mixed race couple I see? Should every city, municipality, place of business, sports team, family, etc... have equal representation of skin color? Should I paint my white children, who, like my wife and I, have a diverse background from many European cultures, but we're pretty pale. Or should I adopt a few children ranging from beige to moonless midnight sky? Or is that fetishist and sickening? Of course it is.

Ultimately, the diversity I hear from the corporate progressives is first about having as many nonwhite people as possible. Second, culture isn't necessarily important, shade is. Third, Asians are part of the color coalition of anti-hate hashtags, but progressives will dump them the second they start achieving or working hard. As this thinking seems to go, you can and SHOULD pay homage to your nonwhite heritage - don't call it exotic - even if it's miles up in your family tree. Hell, maybe it's not in there at all. But more importantly, comply and assimilate to elitist globalist corporate culture. Do the dance. Say the chants. You can make shit up, lie, do nothing, say everything... whatever. Just go along. ... and celebrate and demand diversity, equity, and inclusion. ...even if it's non-diverse, unfair, and exclusive. Chris Broussard besmirched Toronto for America. Toronto is "diverse". America is evil. Doesn't he know Toronto>America? Diverse. TORONTO'S GOTS DIVERSITYNESS AND THAT'S WHAT PLANTS NEED! [HEAD EXPLODES]

... but I digress ... often.

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Two things:

1) Kudos, Ethan. I think you knocked it out of the park again. You articulated what many of us who know Toronto thought when we saw the haters going after Broussard.

2) Let's keep it doubly real: the problems are what Toronto doesn't have (barbershops and Black strip clubs) and what it does (a ton of anti-Black sentiment from people with Arab or Indian subcontinent blood).

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The Canadians who have issues with what Broussard said are those who has never lived extensively in America. It is easy to imagine there won’t be any culture shocking going from one country to another because of our similarities but you quickly realize that is just wrong. I went to law school in America and practiced there. Everyday there are minor differences like Celsius v Fahrenheit and why are American currency all the same color, to bigger issues like renewing work visa and figure out which hospital are in and out of your network. All these differences add up and make you very acutely aware of the fact you are in a foreign country. This is true for my American colleagues who practice in Canada as well. Therefore, why is anyone shocked by his statement that American players have difficulties in Canada? After all, most Canadians I know are intensely proud of the fact that we are not America. Why should we then have pikachu face when someone says, yea it is difficult for American players in Toronto since Toronto is not America?

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Broussard didn't say much wrong, he could have been a little more detailed but shock jocks don't get paid to provide lengthy, reasoned explanations on things. It's important noting that African-American culture is vastly different to other black culture around the world. There is no such thing as a uniformed black culture. There may be commonalities in terms of food, language or music but every culture is different. Some players may not feel entirely comfortable living in a country where they do not necessarily fit easily into a social group outside of their teammates.

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Best use of "uncanny valley" I've seen. Brilliant. 👏🏻

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Let's zoom out a little bit: Canadians don't like their nation being perceived as the 51st state. It's a natural and understandable byproduct to being neighbors with a culturally-similar superpower.

So the fact that they're getting angry at an American for saying Canada is too DIFFERENT...that's a pretty big deal, right? That's something that requires an explanation.

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Ron Swanson wouldnt move to Canada for Wendy Haverford.

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Conversely, I'm surprised that Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, and New Orleans aren't NBA free agent destinations at all, despite having sizeable Black populations and Black American cultural institutions.

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Nice work Ethan! Here's my tangential point:

How come no one knocks the Bills for not wanting to move their franchise to Toronto? I mean, Buffalo is literally 1/25th the size of Toronto, and is the 53rd largest market in the United States. Toronto is the 4th largest market in all of North America, behind

1- Mexico City

2 - New York City

3- Los Angeles


Buffalo doesn't even make the TOP 95 Most populous Cities on that list. But, nobody talks about taking away their NFL team. And given the market size in Mexico City, how come we aren't talking about expanding the NBA to there? I mean there's a huge international market for the taking in the NBA.

And someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I remember a Mega-Sports Star voluntarily played for a Canadian Sports Franchise (meaning they signed from out of town as a Free Agent) was when Roger Clemmons signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997? And his career in Canada lasted what, 2 years?!

-Enes Freedom can't play in Canada, as the Turkish Gov't has spies there. (Well, now he can't play in the whole league because he got too political for any teams' liking, but that's beside the initial point.)

-Vancouver one of the most beautiful cities in the world, moved to Memphis (PS - not too many Grizzly bears in Tennessee).

-And the biggest NBA Stars don't sign free-agent contracts moving themselves to teams like

Toronto, Memphis, OKC, Utah, Orlando, San Antonio, Portland, Charlotte or even Denver.

And how come nobody is asking Drake how many months out of the year is he actually staying in Toronto? NBA Teams that make deep playoff runs are tethered to their city 8-9 months out of the year.

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There are a bunch of black Torontonians in the NBA. Someone should probably ask them whether the black culture they grew up in is fundamentally or notably different from the one their teammates grew up in. And the idea that there is a black monoculture that stretches from Detroit to Los Angeles, but stops at the Canadian border seems like a bit of a stretch.

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What a dumb take. Broussard was clearly saying that black people feel uncomfortable in Toronto because it's too white. His attempts to walk it back with references to Diversity are the same kind of media bullshit that you're supposed to be calling out.

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I think Ethan you're 100% right in this take, and the criticism of Broussard was just defensive posturing by Canadians looking for what Seth Meyers has termed "clapter". But my guess is also Brou must have had a specific bad experience in Toronto that is coloring his viewpoint. It seems very likely, no? For all the Black NBA players that left Toronto, there are also many who have stayed and made great careers. Lowry and DeRozan, VanVleet, remember when Alvin Williams signed there? And then he even went back there to be an assistant coach. Charles Oakley, weirdly enough, seems to have a very warm spot for Toronto! https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nba-raptors-charles-oakley-last-enforcer-is-amazed-at-how-far-basketball-in-toronto-has-come-044400679.html

I think as with everything, personal experiences probably shape a huge chunk of what a person thinks of a city. He hasn't come out and said it (at least I haven't found it yet), but I'm guessing something specific happened with Broussard that soured him on the city.

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