STATEMENT ON GEORGE FLOYD
The protests that are occurring in the U.S., Canada, and across the globe in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of 4 Minneapolis police officers, has become a clarion call for all people to mobilize against racial injustices. The video which captured the blatant murder of Mr. Floyd, has been viewed by millions across the globe. It has become a chilling reminder of the level of oppression and brutality that Black bodies have continuously experienced for generations.
However, even at this moment as many in the world are loudly proclaiming “Black Lives Matter”, we would be remiss if we did not point out that Black communities have been shouting and protesting loudly for hundreds of years about the level of micro, macro aggressions and violence that Black people have experienced in the daily course of life. Throughout the school systems within Canada, Black children are emotionally and psychologically brutalized and their educational needs often unmet. Black males and females experience varying forms of racism in their daily trek to work or school and members of our Black LGBTQ communities have been forced to shuttle back and forth between the multiple marginal positions that mark their reality.
In the midst of the continued visible, unchallenged and sanctioned police violence in the U.S., White men in positions of power continue to deny the existence of anti-Black racism here in Canada or at best, speak to it in rather minimalist ways. In the meanwhile, those of us who are Black, live the violence and brutality of racism each and every day of our lives, irrespective of our social class, educational levels or career accomplishments. The Canadian notion of multiculturalism is a panacea that soothes White sensibilities, but it fails to address race or relations of power. The continued belief in merit-based achievements fails to effectively expose or challenge the multiple forms of oppressions and minefields that are placed in the pathways to success for Blacks people here in Canada. What the video of Mr. Floyd’s death does is that it offended White sensibilities; it tarnishes the image of the police as people who are there to serve, and most poignantly, it erases the image of the White male as the saviour. The murder of Mr. Floyd has exposed the underbelly of anti-Blackness that members of Black communities have been aware of for generations and renders vivid, the ways in which whiteness and state-sanctioned violence, terrorizes Black communities.
As White and non-Black people gasp in horror at the sight of Mr. Floyd taking his last breath as he went home to join his “Mama!”, there remains millions of Black bodies who die little deaths each and every day, right here in Canada at the behest of many of the white folks who are staring in horror. It should not have taken the world witnessing the murder of yet another Black man, for the daily violence Black people endure to become visible. You should have respected us enough to have taken our word for it!
CABE, has been involved in challenging, critiquing and questioning the ongoing violence in our society for decades. We, along with countless other Black organizations, have taken a stance against anti-Black racism and continue to aim to hold systems and institutions accountable for fostering change. However, that change cannot happen without the commitment and involvement of each and every Canadian, to end violence in all its forms. This is not the time for non-Black citizens to call Black friends and colleagues to ask them what to do. Black people are tired, and we are in need of all our energies at this time to care for ourselves, our families and communities as we attempt to explain to our children why they should feel safe in Canada, even when we as adults are not convinced. We have had countless conversations about what to do and what can be done. We have seen all too many reactive responses erupt when a crisis occurs. The momentary eruptions do little to actually fix the problem. What we need is for you as non-Black Canadians to recognize, that anti-Black racism is pervasive and that you have the power to make a change. Challenging and erasing anti-Black violence requires a daily intentional, committed action aimed at respecting the humanity of each Black citizen here in Canada.
Here’s are some simple steps that you can take to afford Black people the same privileges that you take for granted:
1. Speak to your children about race and racism. They are never too young to understand right and wrong, good and bad. Your silence is teaching them at an early stage in their development, which bodies are valued in our society and which ones are not.
2. Challenge your family members when they make racist comments. These are not funny jokes and memes to be share.
3. Challenge your co-workers when anti-Black racism enters the workplace.
4. Call and write to members of your various political representatives and have them tell you specifically what policies and practices they will implement to address anti-Black racism.
5. Challenge the teachers who reside in your communities and who school your children to do a better job of educating all children equitably. It is mandatory that they stop under- educating and mis-educating Black children.
6. Write letters to your local police, judges, prosecutors and every member of the judiciary and demand that they be held accountable for their racist actions.
7. Become conscious of the spaces where Blacks are over and under-represented and seek opportunities to ensure equitable representation.
8. Take the time to explore Black histories here in Canada and to recognize that we are Canadian, not permanent outsiders. You have to educate yourself! There are millions of resources out there – “Google It!”
9. Recognize that having a Black friend, partner or child does not mean a) that you are not racist; b) that you have proven your commitment to ‘the cause’; c) that you are colour blind; or d) that you don’t have white privilege. All of those sentiments are about protecting yourself, your emotions and your privilege. They do nothing to challenge anti-Black racism
10. Stop making this about you and how you feel! Black men, women and children are literally dying in their homes, on the streets, in playgrounds or ending up in the prison system. Our children are losing their interest in their future and often being shunted off to jail in the very same schools that support and build your children’s dreams.
11. Check yourself! What are your beliefs and attitudes? What are the things you do that reinforce anti-Black racism? What do you need to know and understand so that you can do things differently and expect different outcomes form those around you? What have you been told about Black people and how are you going to challenge that narrative so that you do not pass the misinformation on to the next generation?
12. Be consciously aware and intentional! Be intentional in how you teach, how you learn, what you say and what you do in every aspect of your world! “I didn’t intend to!” cannot be your personal escape clause! You are well aware of what you do and say. Be conscious and intentional in wanting the very same benefits for Black people as you want for yourself and your family.
Dismantling anti-Black racism is technically more your responsibility than it is ours as Black people. This is the house that your forebears built. It behooves you to play a central role in co-creating a better future for all of us.