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The Long History of African Americans Escaping to Canada

Trump's racist rhetoric have you thinking of moving to Canada? Black people have had a rough time doing that over the centuries.
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Stacey Newman/

Many Americans are suddenly interested in moving to Canada, to judge by the unusually high number of Google searches on the topic. People are looking to flee the U.S. to our upstairs neighbor in fear of a possible Donald Trump presidency. A number of high-profile African Americans are ready to move: Al Sharpton wants out, Former Cosby Show star and current The View host Raven-Symoné, too. And on the more serious side, Kyle Lydell Canty, an African-American man, sought political asylum in Canada last year to escape police violence in the United States. Canada rejected him.

Canty’s story is instructional. Everyone wants to move to Canada to escape a new, even more visibly racist America. But racism doesn't disappear when you cross over the U.S. border. I guess would-be escapees haven’t figured that Whitey still gon’ White no matter whether the flag displays stars and stripes or a maple leaf. In fact, Canada has a long and complicated history with black people seeking to escape U.S. oppression, and it’s not always been a happy one.