It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the wrongful deaths of so many black and indigenous men, women and children at the hands of not just police, but of justice systems worldwide. To my fellow people of colour and the Black Lives Matter movement; I support your peaceful activism toward permanent change.
I was born, raised and lived in many different areas both in and outside of Toronto until I moved to Saskatchewan in 2015. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world - a badge of honour, which I proudly represent. Early on however, being of mixed race came with consequences, such as being called names and being bullied as a child. These incidences are petty in context to the suffering of entire races of people, but they took a lifelong toll on my sense of identity, self-esteem and feelings of worth.
Imagine then what it does to cultures of people who have been mistreated because of their colour, for centuries. The small expressions of racism I’ve experienced are nothing in comparison to what my black friends have faced in school, while applying for jobs or apartments, and at the hands of the legal system. This is also true for our indigenous people and other colourful races as well.
A former boyfriend of mine had a teenage nephew who was shot and killed unarmed, by police, in Toronto. In the hopes of helping his nephew’s lawyer, he began studying law and went on to become a lawyer himself. The officer was cleared of any wrongdoing. His is one of many personal stories of race related injustice my friends have relayed to me over the years. This is just one story of thousands in present-day black communities, nationwide and internationally.
Real understanding comes from the experiential. We’ve all just had a minute taste of having certain freedoms stripped of us during the Covid-19 lockdown. (This is not a realistic example, but I have no other comparison for your purposes.) Imagine if you had to follow these directives instead: you can’t be away from your home without permission, you can’t assemble with friends unless the gathering was chaperoned, you would not be taught to read or write. This is the history of our black brothers and sisters.
Each of us needs to be an agent of change – even in the smallest way. Become a member of The Innocence Project or sign petitions at Change.org. These organizations push for investigations into the wrongly convicted, help release innocent men, women and children, and advocate to change biased bills and laws. Warning: you may be shocked by what you see/read.
To dismiss the movement or protests is to dismiss the basic rights of humanity. We are not the colour of skin, our professions or our bank accounts. Classism, racism and so many other archaic measurements of human worth have no place in our world today. All Lives Matter.