As Black History Month 2021 begins, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation co-founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal in the US of the man who shot Trayvon Martin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the movement's global impact in raising awareness and consciousness of racial injustice.
Kamala Harris, Vice-President of the United States makes history as the first woman, and the first woman of colour elected to the office. Her election comes at a time of great turmoil in the world, as right wing nationalism surges and white supremacy comes out of the shadows. In response to 2020's emboldened violence and state-sanctioned racism, highlighted by the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, global Black Lives Matter protests and rallies brought millions into the streets. An increased awareness of the systemic nature of racism, discussions of white privilege and a rejection of the ongoing injustices took hold in white consciousness like never before.
Canada has a history of racism, slavery and oppression of Black people - and while the comfortable white narrative says that we are a respectful multi-cultural society, Black people in Canada continue to overcome systemic racism and profiling. Addressing unconscious bias and recognizing white privilege is a part of the anti-racism action we can take on as individuals, standing as anti-racists to confront racism where it hides.
Black History Month is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the many contributions that Black Canadians and their communities have made and continue to make to this country. This year’s theme for Black History Month is “The Future is Now”, a call to action for us all to build on the legacy of those who came before us, and to recognize the transformative work that Black Canadians and their communities are doing now.
Online activities to take in this month:
Yukon African Music Festival 2021 presents its Black History Month component to be held on February 20th, 2021, on zoom, celebrating African descent, history, and heritage in Canada. Please join us for discussion, live music, and a cultural presentation with various guests to commemorate Black History Month.
The Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) invites you to join us for our upcoming programming for Black History Month. ARCDO is proud to bring to the University of Toronto community two events in February 2021.
Black History Month Resources and links:
- 365 Days and Ways to Celebrate Remarkable Black Canadians an Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario resource
- 28 Black Picture Books that aren’t about Boycotts, Buses or Basketball
- African-American- Zinn Education Project. Teaching Activity PDF by Bill Bigelow. Six pages. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the US and who benefits.
- Black History Canada
- Black History Month. ed elect; educational web resources
- Black Lives Canada Syllabus
- Black Strathcona: Ten videos with a study guide that brings alive Vancouver's first and only black neighbourhood from the early 1900s-1960s.
- The Book of Negroes. mini series and teachers guide.
- The Harriet Tubman Institute
- Historica Canada. The contribution of black soldiers in the War of 1812
- Films about the Black community in Canada
- Happening Yesterday, Happened Tomorrow: Teaching the ongoing murders of black men
- On Rosa Parks’ 100th Birthday, Recalling Her Rebellious Life Before and After the Montgomery Bus
- Poems that explore the black experience in America
- Recommended reads from the Canadian Children's Book Centre
- Sankofa Black History Collection. Resources for Grade 4-8. A literary resource representing the African Canadian experience.
- Teaching African-Canadian History
- The Urban Alliance on Race Relations
We've had some pretty incredible feedback on our recent anti-racism articles, posts, and graphics. Most of it has been thoughtful, reflective, and appreciative. Unfortunately, we've had a few people crawl out from where they've been hiding to tell us that we ought to shut up and stop wasting their union dues on such activities.
We have a response to those people, and we invite you to read today's blog post about our stance on anti-racism.
This union will always challenge racist policies, beliefs, actions and systems. We guarantee that in the same way we guarantee we will fight policies, beliefs, actions and systems that oppress anyone - whether it's a unionized worker in the Yukon or an impoverished coffee farmer in Guatemala.
We fight racism because we are hard wired to challenge systemic inequities. And no, we will not be posting an equal number of opposing views to balance things out or to ease the discomfort of those who don't believe they're racist, but clearly are.
Yukon Employees' Union takes a stand against racism in our communities and in our workplaces. We work to foster spaces where everyone is equal, where racism is not tolerated, where diversity is celebrated and where there are opportunities to learn and grow.
Systemic racism exists in Canada, shaping the lives of our members and their families. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour are affected every day by "a system of power that seeks to benefit white people above all others", as defined by activist and author Desmond Cole,
Right now in Nova Scotia, the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq are being challenged by Acadian commercial fish harvesters coming from communities around southwestern Nova Scotia. These non-indigenous harvesters are outraged that indigenous fishers are dropping their lobster traps out of season, despite the treaty rights guaranteeing the Mi'kmaq the right to catch and sell lobsters and manage their fishery.
Facing our own internal and unconscious bias can be difficult, but without a willingness to learn, to feel the discomfort and to look critically at our privilege, we perpetuate the racism that's embedded in our country's very existence.
The task of confronting racism head-on is overdue, and it's something that will take effort and time. We have as much to UN-learn as we have to learn. Together, we can do this important work.
Learn more about Mi'kmaq rights, what is taking place in Nova Scotia and find out how to help at the following links.
Ways to Support Mi'kmaq Asserting Their Treaty Rights in Digby, Nova Scotia (unceded Mi'kma'ki)
Unraveling the Interplay Between Diversity and Race in the Canadian Experience
LECTURE VIDEO – https://youtu.be/ijL_391Xw9g
National Film Board of Canada
A series of videos and documentaries on anti-racism
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,Peggy McIntosh
"I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.
White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country: one's life is not what one makes of it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own."
Guide to Allyship, A Lamont
Being an ally is hard work. Many would-be allies fear making mistakes that could have them labeled as “-ist” or “-ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc). But as an ally, you’re also affected by a system of oppression. This means that as an ally, there is much to unlearn and learn—mistakes are expected. You need to own this as fact and should be willing to embrace the daily work of doing better.
As an ally, you need to own your mistakes and be proactive in your education, every day.
Indigenous Ally Toolkit, Montreal Indigenous Community Network
Ally, Accomplice, Co-Resistor. Being involved in any kind of anti-oppression work is a way of being and doing, of self-reflection, checking your motivations and continual learning. The Indigenous Ally Toolkit prepared by the Montreal Indigenous Community Network is a good resource.
Decolonize First; A liberating guide and workbook for peeling back the layers of neocolonialism by Nahanee Creative
The Skin We're In, Desmond Cole
Yes, Canada Has a Racism Crisis and It’s Killing Black and Indigenous Peoples, Pam Palmater
Red Man Laughing
RED MAN LAUGHING - LIVE IN WHITEHORSE, YT Recorded live at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Sandy & Nora Talk Politics
Nora Loreto and Sandy Hudson discuss complex issues facing our society and work through how we can approach solving them. Popular episodes include defunding the police, the Land Defenders at Wet’suwet’en and Justin Trudeau’s use of Blackface.
Indian and Cowboy - Indigenous Media Network.
The premiere Indigenous podcast network, offering Indigenous arts and culture coverage, new music and Indigenous thought and opinion writing.
Note: The content linked below is kid-friendly, but like any discussion of difficult subjects a trusted adult should be available to help answer any questions that may arise.
Where can I learn more about Indigenous people in Canada?
What Canadian Kids Should Know About Black Lives Matter
Want to be a non-appropriative ally?
How White People can Advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Listen to this recent NPR interview with Dr. Uzodinma Iweala, medical doctor, author and CEO of The Africa Center- a culture & policy institute in New York City.