Desmond Cole

A Hero In Action


"I've been stopped by cops on the street 50 times. I'm not a criminal."

Desmond Cole is an African American man, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Sierra Leone in the 1970s. He was born in Red Deer, Alberta, and soon after his birth, his parents moved to Oshawa, Ontario.

Early Years of Desmond Cole

Growing up as a child in Toronto, was not easy for Mr. Cole. His parents worked as nurses for the elderly and they always preached to their son “about respecting authority, working hard and preserving the family’s good name.” I chose this quote because it says a lot about the type of people his parents are. Similar to my parents, Cole’s parents also demands and places respect on the top of their list. His parents also lectured him about how it would be that much harder for him to succeed, because of his minority skin colour, in a white dominated society. For Cole, it meant that he would have to try a lot harder and achieve a lot more, just to keep up.

Background & Challenges

The reason I chose Desmond Cole as my hero, simply because like me, he is also a Torontonian. He has experienced racial discrimination on numerous occasions, and to this day, he continues to fight for his right not to be judged by the colour of his skin, but for the freedom to express his own feelings and thoughts. He wants this not only for himself, but for all those of a minority race or skin colour.

What is Desmond Cole's Job:

Currently, Mr. Desmond Cole works as a writer for local Toronto magazines and an online news reporting site called "The Walrus."

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Desmond Cole was not only discriminated by members of the police force, but he was also hated upon by ordinary individuals in public places such as on the streets, in local bars, on buses, trains, and streetcars. In an interview with CBC Television, Cole states, “when it happens when you're walking down the street, when you're standing in public with friends and you're singled out, it becomes infuriating.” I chose this quote mainly because it make me sympathize with Mr. Cole and the position he was placed in, by those individuals we usually place trust in and even by ordinary simple folks.


To clarify, carding is a process where someone is repeatedly asked to present his or her identification, despite their obvious age being above the required limit. In Mr. Cole's case, carding refers to the police practice of stopping random people on the street and collecting information about them.

Mr. Cole fought against the carding policy because he felt that Toronto citizens of minority groups, especially blacks, were being purposefully targeted by police in random stops for collecting information. He felt this was unfair, unjust, and simply should not be tolerated.


In an effort to take a stand and make a change, Mr. Cole, a few months after moving to Toronto, chose to run for Toronto City Council in the Trinity-Spadina area, in 2006. The fact that he ran for a government position, again proves to me that Mr. Cole is a determined and fighting man, who will not simply sit back and let others take advantage of him and others who are wrongly discriminated against. This is a quality I admire about him and one that makes him a true hero.
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An Inspiring Quote

After discussing his years living in Toronto, a city that prides itself on multiculturalism, Mr. Cole mentioned how he was carded more than a dozen times, detained and searched on numerous occasions, all of which added to his frustration over the years. Towards the end of his interview with CBC Television, Cole states that "existing in the same space together does not mean that we are respecting one another." This quote really speaks to me, in that it tells me and all readers that it takes more than just getting along to respect each other. It tells me that being truly respectful, means treating each other with genuine care, love, being helpful, and willingly giving when one is in need. If more of the world could understand and follow Mr. Cole’s ideas on respect, maybe, just maybe, this world will be a peaceful place and there will be more love than hatred.

Final Thoughts

Effects of Mr. Desmond Cole's Experience on Society:

Learning about how Mr. Cole was unjustly treated and mistreated by public figure and ordinary folks in society really shows that Toronto is not a free of racial stereotypes as it seems. Cole's negative experience with the police also teach readers that racial discrimination can occur at even the highest levels, even from those whom society places the most trust in. In addition, his experience provides a very poor image of Toronto, a city that is proud to be multi-cultural. Not only that, but Cole's experience also show how racist ordinary people can be.

Why is this Man a Hero?

The heroic quality in Desmond Cole’s courage to tell his story certainly tell readers, especially those that believe that Toronto is a place that does not discriminate, that they should really think twice. There is clearly a lot work to be done in this city in order to eliminate racial injustices when it comes to getting jobs, earning fair wages, building diverse communities, etc. Desmond Cole should be recognized for bringing the truth to life and for educating the public on why change is needed.

Your Thougths

  1. Do you feel like the things Mr. Cole describes, (being wrongfully stopped, detained, searched, or carded) happens on a regular basis?
  2. Do you think things will ever change in Toronto, where there will be no form of racism?