Black Lives Matter


I acknowledge & respect that we are gathered here in unceded territory of the Sinixt Arrow Lakes People, the Okanagan Sylix (c̕əwlxiʔc̕a – chew a la hitza) People, and the Ktunaxa People and that I am a white, scottish/british male, who grew up in Rossland, a predominantly white community, who comes from a privileged socio-economic background.  I feel compelled to act, in light of recent events, and I may make mistakes that I am unaware of during  this.  These words come from a place of love and respect, and I am willing to learn and will apologize if I do make mistakes.  If you feel comfortable to approach me with feedback or criticism, I will do my best not to react defensively and to listen. 

We stand here today in solidarity against racism.  We stand here today because another Black Man was murdered by the police.  This time, his name was George Floyd.  Say his name!  George Floyd.  He leaves behind a six year old daughter and a loving community. We stand here today because this is all too common. We stand here today because this is not a historical problem, it is not just an American problem, this happens here, this is a global reality.

I am a white male who continues to benefit from the privilege I get from a Racist system that is upheld by White Supremacy. I had no hand in building this system; I wasn’t born when this system was created, but it continues to exist and I continue to benefit.  Even being able to give this speech is a product of my privilege.  I am privileged in that I can choose to learn about racism if I feel like it, instead of being exposed to it my whole life.

If your definition of a racist is someone who holds conscious dislike of people because of their race, you would not be alone.  This is what is taught to us from a young age.  But this is not racism this is Prejudice and Discrimination.  We all hold prejudice and discriminate but this is not racism.

Prejudice consists of your thoughts and feelings that include stereotypes, attitudes and generalizations.  We all hold them.

Discrimination is actions based on that Prejudice.  These actions can include ignoring, exclusion, threats, ridicule, slander, and violence.  We have all acted on them. But discrimination can also take the form of inaction, such as knowing that a system is harming people and doing nothing to stop it. 

Racism, however, is a structure, not an event.  It is when a racial group’s prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control. Racism is deeply embedded in our society and is not limited to a single act or person. Racism is reinforced across society in school textbooks, political speeches, movies, advertising, funding formulas, holidays and words and phrases.  

While people of color may hold prejudice and discriminate as well, in North America, white people hold the social and institutional positions in society to infuse racial prejudices into the laws, policies, practices, and norms of society in a way that Black, indigenous and People of Color do not. This is the racist system we live in. This is Racism.

In Canada these systems of legal and institutional control can be seen through our governments and those who control the socio-economic power–both who benefit from the status quo.  But we can see the systemic racial abuse most through our Criminal Justice System.

Out of 10,000 arrests in Toronto, Black people were 50% more likely to be taken to a police station for processing and 100% more likely to be held overnight than white people.  This takes into account their criminal history and age and when given bail, more conditions are imposed.  Minorities are more likely to be subject to disciplinary procedures and Indiginous people make up more than 21% of federal prisoners but make up less than 14% of parolees.  That is a 50% underrepresentation.

While as a whole, Indiginious and Black People are overrepresented in the Canadian Correctional Institution.  Black People are overrepresented by more than 300% while Indiginious people are overrepresented nearly 500% vs. their population.  These imbalances are getting worse, not better.

In the last year, the following people in Canada were killed by police:

  • Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who died after falling from the 24th floor of her apartment building during a mental health aid call — her mother says the police had pushed her.

  • Jason Collins, an Indigenous man, was shot and killed. Police shot Collins 40 minutes after they arrived at his home, after already having left his property saying he walked out the front door and threatened them.

  • Eishia Hudson, a 16-year-old indigenous girl, was shot and killed.

  • Randy Cochrane, of Fisher River Cree Nation, Witnesses say they saw Cochrane running through residential backyards while shouting for help while being chased by police. His family says he died in handcuffs.

  • D’Andre Campbell, an Afrikan man, was shot and killed. Campbell, who lived with mental health issues, called police for help. Police entered Campbell’s home, and family members say that the two police officers each used a taser on him, then one officer shot him with a handgun while he was on the ground.

  • Sean Thompson, who died in custody. Police say he went into medical distress after being arrested. Thompson’s family say police did not notify them of his death for 30 hours. When they were finally able to see his body, the family saw numerous injuries to his wrists and knees.

  • And just yesterday, Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman was shot and killed by police after her boyfriend had asked the police to check in with her because she said she was being harassed by someone.

So what can I do?

To quote Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility, “The first thing is to ask yourself “What has enabled you to become a full, educated, professional adult and not know what to do about racism?”

Is it because I wasn’t educated? Well I need to do the work and educate myself!

Is it because there were few people of color in my environment? Then I need to get out of my comfort zone.  Addressing racism is not without effort.

I need to demonstrate that I care enough to do the work myself.  I need to break with the conditioning that makes me apathetic about racism and prevents me from developing the skills I need to interrupt it.

Ending Racism is not the work of Black or Indigenous People of Colour: it is the work of White People. Only we can organize ourselves and end systemic oppression in our governments and institutions. We need to vote for those who are sincere about making real change.  For those who are dedicated to making justice reform because study after study shows that racism fuels racial disparities in imprisonment. For those who look for the root cause of poverty and trauma and not the band aid solution.  For those who fight for change even though they benefit from the current systems and for those who understand that real change won’t come from our current paradigm.

We need to know whose land we live on and to be honest about our country’s history, and we need to seriously consider how to DEFUND the POLICE and create actual community resources to help us in emergencies and times of need. Denial is far too common, and a wise man once said, “YOU CAN’T SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR PROBLEMS, UNTIL YOU SAY HELLO TO THEM.”

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