It’s been a long time since I said anything after #BlackLivesMatter and topics on racism blew up the globe. I sat alone in guilt like the rest of us while beginning to learn more about racism and its history in North America.
I’m continuing to listen, read and watch more about the history in racism. I haven’t been one to watch the news often nor learn about history. But I’m pledging to do better for my friends and family of colour. For their safety and success in some day being able to live a decent life in Canada. I feel like the more I read about these issues in the past and present, the more I see it in my life.
I’ve been so numb to the subtle nuances. The way people treat me. The way people treat my friends of colour. And I’ve been in my own little bubble of comfort and excuses to avoid it all. I realize that this is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Businesses, colleagues, and friends all exhibiting silence on the topic. I myself don’t know how to address it properly. We were all conditioned to stay silent about race and racism.
My idleness and lack of awareness
This hasn’t been an easy topic to sit with. I often claim that I’m used to being uncomfortable. Owning up to my mistakes, telling my friends and other loved ones how I plan to do better, and actually do better. But I’ve been failing at it all this time.
Black people everywhere face discomfort and silence day after day. I’m not black. It’s a different game for Asian Canadians. We don’t have the same privileges white people do. But we still aren’t seen in the same light as black people are in North American society. Police don’t treat us like we’re monsters. White people don’t see us as a danger to society.
I’m embarrassed to admit I’m just beginning to learn about the hardships that black communities face. The heartbreaking thing is we all knew about slavery. They teach it in Canadian history. That racism targets black people specifically. It dictated how black people were going to live in North American society. How young black children grow up and what opportunities they don’t get because of the colour of their skin. We are only now beginning to see it and to put it in front of our faces as a problem we need to actively solve together.
For topics related to anti-black racism, I wanted to at least start by reading books to educate myself.
I just finished this Audiobook and it’s available here. If you don’t have an Audible account, you can get this book for free on a 30-day trial.
If you’re white and you’re compassionate enough to realize that #AllLivesMatter is bigotry in all its glory, this is a great place to start. A white person wrote it, and wrote it for white people.
You’re probably wondering: shouldn’t a black person be educating me on black history and racism, if anything? Big, fat no. Black and other people of colour have no responsibility to teach you about American history and how racism has shaped our society today to uphold white solidarity. This is our own responsibility just like we have the responsibility to stay informed and vote. The more you read about #BLM the more you will realize how true this is.
The book explains where white privilege comes from. It shows exactly what the difference is when seeing racism from a white person’s point of view, versus a person of colour’s point of view. There are great takeaways from it in the form of questions that you should be asking yourself to help you better understand what racism is and what it looks like.
The explanations and examples are crystal clear and is almost like a “White privilege for dummies” handbook. I’m reading it because, while I’m not white, I’m not black, and I grew up with a different perspective from either race. It’s a good book to read for anyone wanting to learn more about white privilege. What it is, and how it manifests in our everyday lives.
A few others in the list, after I’ve re-read this one and taken thorough notes on it…
- 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act – Indigenous people of Canada are marginalized even more than black people in Canada, and across most sectors. It brings uncommon knowledge to the forefront about the Indian Act today, and its history.
- Policing Black Lives – Also recommended by many people, including those at the peaceful march in Ottawa on June 5. It educates on systemic violence against black people within Canada. I’m even less educated about racism in Canada than in America. Admittedly. 🙁 In elementary school I learned that Canada was the ‘free land’ to where slaves escaped. But I don’t think there was enough education on the matter.
- Until We Are Free – About black racism specifically in Canada. Published this year, it’s extremely recent and talks about Canadian black activism in Canada. It exploits the fact that systemic racism exists on an alarming scale in Canada, too. Not just America.
Every day I’m watching posted recordings outright acts of racism in different parts of Canada. Someone approaching a black man and calling him a Nigger. A man getting out of his car to shout racist slurs to black teenage girls just walking down the streets. And again, calling them Niggers. Cops pull over an indigenous person for an expired license plate, then getting physically and forcefully charged by an incoming police officer.
This all happens in Canada. And even if we don’t see it as openly as in the States, we still sit with it in our own homes.
When you avoid the use of the term “racism” or “anti-black racism” you choose to comply with the status quo of racism, which is to keep it under the radar. This allows for racism to continue living on and the only way to address it is to literally talk about it.
We can’t be afraid to call it out for what it is and we need to start sitting with the discomfort that our friends have been in their whole lives.
Large corporations have the most money and the most power and thus the most influence to do anything in this world.
Good businesses like Nike, Jordan & Converse, Ben & Jerry’s — all pledge to use their platform and power to actively help the #BlackLivesMatter movement progress. This is commendable.
State the changes you plan to make today moving forward. Put a legitimate plan into place. Measure its success, so you can let us know about your progress in really becoming an inclusive workplace. Don’t put in a minimum count for “diverse hires” just so you can tick a box and say your company’s considered “diverse.” None of that matters when you see them leaving soon after they’ve arrived.
Do you really want diversity in your business? Do you really want to keep diverse talent? Then put in the damn effort to make sure that when we arrive, we feel welcomed, and a part of the culture.
I won’t name the businesses who are still not doing their part because I feel like it’s most of the big ones out there. Most are still just going business as usual after one carefully written performative post on D&I. This is not enough. Don’t just say “Black lives matter” and be fucking done with it.
I’m happier to see people waking up on social media and starting to talk about racism in a serious way. I feel even better when there are people using their own voices to name their perspective on the matter, how they plan to help, and what they are currently doing to help.
We as North Americans hate to think they’re part of the problem. So they avoid talking about it, as though they, individually, are not part of the problem.
If you’re a white person in a position of authority, I urge you to use your platform. No matter how big or small, use it and with your own voice to address as yourself, to the public, what your perspective is and how more people can be involved. Help influence the people in your following to do the same.
If you were to take anything away from this, I would want it to be: if this topic makes you uncomfortable, then you’re on the right track. Educating yourself is the easiest way to learn how to become a good ally.
This is not an anti-white prejudice post by any means. Although we know the cause of this problem of racism, the historical facts on the colonization by white people and onto people of colour everywhere across the globe, we are focusing on the solution. Please help by being a part of the solution too.