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Actor playing MLK on stage twice hit with racial slurs in London, Ontario
'It struck me as ironic to be playing a role like this and to sort of come face to face with that'

An American actor who is set to portray Martin Luther King, Jr., in an upcoming stage production in London, Ont., says he’s twice had racial slurs hurled at him in recent days.

In one case, E.B. Smith was walking down the street with his co-star, when a man passing by in a car yelled “the N-word at us.”

The second time around, a man struck up a conversation with him at a restaurant and eventually swore at him, left and then returned to use the N-word in a follow-up exchange.

“It struck me as ironic to be playing a role like this and to sort of come face to face with that,” Smith told CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive. “But it was also shocking to find it so, sort of, overtly, in London.”

Smith, whose father is black and mother is white, said he has been in Canada for six years and this was the first time he had “experienced something quite that aggressive.”

He didn’t challenge the people who antagonized him or report the incidents to the police, but that didn’t stop him from getting mad.

“There’s a lot of anger in those moments. You get hit with something like that and it’s clearly meant to demean, it’s clearly meant to dehumanize and frankly, it’s meant to provoke,” Smith said. “And so, I think all of those impulses are definitely there, but I was also very conscious of being a foreigner and a visitor to London and I also didn’t want to start anything.”

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