Child and Youth Health Program Facilitator
The deaths of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet left people questioning how they can support the fight against police brutality and anti-Black racism in Canada. Though your feelings are valid, emotions are fleeting. Let your pain, anger and frustration fuel actionable steps towards change.
Allyship is not a performative action restricted to the moments after the Black community has been harmed by systemic racism. “This is a movement, not a moment” has been shared widely throughout social media. This sentiment is true. Long after the news cycle stops covering Black Lives Matter protests, the Black community still has to deal with systemic racism’s daily effects. This includes higher rates of police brutality, high school suspension and poverty.
Black Lives Matter is not a political statement. It is the acknowledgement of a fact not reflected in cases of police brutality. Allyship and advocacy are not buzzwords. They are the everyday actions people take to stand in solidarity with the Black community.
1. “Ally” is an action word
An ally is someone who takes actionable steps towards addressing anti-Black racism. Allyship involves doing the work that makes you worthy of the title. It is an internal reckoning - an opportunity to self-reflect and examine how your actions have harmed the Black community. This may be through macro-aggressions, stereotyping etc. Being an ally is essential to dismantling systemic racism.
2. Learning and unlearning are an ongoing process
It’s important to understand that learning isn’t a destination – it’s a lifelong process. After self-reflection, it’s essential to recognize the gaps in your understanding of anti-Black racism and systemic inequalities. If you are uncomfortable, that is a sign of growth. Sit with your discomfort and question where that feeling stems from. Ask what ideologies and worldviews inform your beliefs about the Black community as well as what it means to get rid of them. Who are you without internalized anti-Black racism? For every harmful idea about race you leave behind, fill that space with books, articles, videos and other resources that help question your prejudices.
3. Speak out against anti-Black racism
Anti-Black racism lives in our bodies (as internalized racism – e.g. thoughts), institutions, workplaces, places of worship and every other public space we occupy. Nowhere is exempt from the effects of racism. When you see instances of anti-Black racism, you should call them out. Your voice may shake or you may not use the perfect words but silence is not an option. Speak up and out.
4. Find your stride as an advocate
Be mindful of the space you take up as an ally. Your main focus should be to amplify the voices of Black people instead of centering yourself in conversations about race. Whether you participate in protests, sign petitions or financially support Black community groups – small, intentional actions accumulate towards the larger goal of long-lasting change.
5. Advocacy starts at home and spreads outward, to the larger community
It’s important to have those difficult conversations about racism because the stakes are too high not to. I am Black every day. I don’t have the option of opting out of how anti-Black racism affects my everyday life. Allies should prioritize Black lives over their discomfort by engaging in conversations with family members, friends, colleagues about systemic racism. Start a book club or share articles that spark discussions on your WhatsApp groups.
Tackling systemic racism and anti-Black racism seems like a big task. Let the hope of what we can do together silence the parts of you that think you can’t make a difference. You can make a difference. You are the difference – be an ally today, tomorrow and every day after that. Black lives depend on it. Black Lives Matter.
#BlackLivesMatter #SCHC #SCHCIsStillHere