(photo: Poster for workshop facilitated at York University Feb 2017)
Speaking on issues of race and racism is never easy, but identifying yourself as someone who is setting out to battle anti-Black racism is downright terrifying.
Do I sound too militant? Have I turned into the angry Black woman? Will I be hurting my career? Did I put myself in a box?
For a really long time, these questions provided me with a justification for not speaking up and working on issues that affected my reality as a Black woman. As I work in the field of human rights I got lost in the language of “diversity and inclusion”. Though it is essential to learn the language that allows stakeholders in organizations to feel COMFORTABLE; you quickly learn that comfort does not drive change and contrary to popular belief, neither does discomfort. The only element that produces change in organization is – COMMITMENT.
But how can I ask persons with power to commit to changing something I was too frightened to name?
Change needed to begin with me. I could no longer allow the fear of critique or labels dictate my commitment to identifying and working towards eliminating anti-Black racism.
This Black History Month I affirm that racism exists. I affirm that racism is real and is an act of violence. Anti-Black racism has historical roots in Canada and impacts the realities and experiences of Black bodies today.
To persons who are interested in or planning on establishing a career in human rights:
1. Identify your truths
2. Find your voice and speak up
3. Increase your knowledge in your passions
4. Learn from and give back to your community
5. Honor the wisdom of the past and contribute to the works of the future