In these times as a white and privileged female business owner, I recognize the importance of sharing my commitment to anti-racism, the Black community and the social justice movement. I want to take accountability for systemic racism that I have contributed to as a white privileged woman and I want to do better.

We have all seen the multitude of examples of systemic racism in the United States with the murders of Black men by police. We have all witnessed the horrible murders of #GeorgeFloyd, #BreonnaTaylor, #PierreCoriolan, #TonyMcDade and #AhmaudArbery. It is a common reaction of Canadians to feel like we have it better here and that we are not as bad. It is easy to forget the oppression faced by Black People, People of Colour and Indigenous People in Canada that are experienced on a daily basis and often goes unreported and unnoticed. As an example, we have seen the murders of #DandreCampbell, #MachuarMadut and #RegisKorchinskiPaquet by police in Canada in recent years. The murders of all these individuals are horrific and disgusting and this behaviour must be stopped.

This daily racism can be overt as seen through public acts of violence but it can also be subtle implicit biases and micro-aggressions (as seen in snide comments, little jokes, racial profiling, and accusations, etc). CEC has largely focused on these subtle biases and micro-aggressions through our work and training. We are hearing more about the violent murders and killings right now but please let me remind you that Black People, People of Colour and Indigenous Peoples experience subtle forms of violence every day.

This violence is often compounded when other identities also play a factor, such as the racist experience of a Black woman is often compounded due to the oppression from society because she is Black AND a woman, or a Black trans woman where she is also discriminated against due to her gender and sexuality.

This racist behaviour can be seen in homes, on streets, in shops and throughout our workplaces. We often like to think that we have progressed as a society, inequalities have decreased, and we have all gotten better, but that is far from reality. The last segregated school in Canada was only closed in 1983 in Nova Scotia (well within our lifetime). A Black Person currently earns 75.6 cents per hour compared to a Caucasian person. New technologies like automatic soap dispensers rarely detect a hand if its not Caucasian. The pay gap between white women and Black women or racialized women is still significant. Black People are 20x more likely to be shot dead by the police than white people.

All forms of racism, violence and murders are unacceptable and must stop. I stood with you yesterday, I stand with you today and I promise to continue standing with you tomorrow. Because Black Lives Matter.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, intersectionality and anti-“isms” are at the heart of everything CEC does and we want to re-commit to these practices and make it easier for others to do the same.

I commit to practicing anti-racism, allyship, advocacy and re-education every day. I commit to:

  • Continuous learning on this subject matter as I can empathize but I can never fully understand the experience of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.
  • Amplifying the voices and stories of People of Colour and Black People and ensuring that I never speak FOR them but instead amplify their messages and invite them in to tell their own stories and experiences.
  • Calling-In (and where necessary Calling-Out) when I see racist, discriminatory, prejudicial, and biased behaviour, language and actions.
  • Identifying the systemic barriers and the levers that I can control and to take action to effect change.
  • Ensuring that all CEC events have diverse representation and voices.
  • Hiring for diversity.
  • Working with our clients to advance and advocate for anti-racism policies, processes and systems to advance inclusion and equality.

I wanted to share some ideas and resources that you, as an individual can do immediately to begin your anti-racism journey as well as resources and ideas for workplaces to implement.

Let’s start with important concepts that you’ve been hearing about lately…

Power & Privilege

  • Privilege is the concept that a person can receive more inherent rights or benefits in society SOLELY DUE to their race or their gender or some other aspect of their identity. For example, it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how qualified you are, you will not receive a promotion if you are a Black woman and the person hiring is racist and sexist with views that woman shouldn’t be working or feels uncomfortable around a woman or a Black Person in the office.
  • Privilege is not “seeing” or even acknowledging that a problem exists for others because it does not affect you personally.
  • Everyone has experienced hardships in life but having less privilege (and more oppression) is that you have more hardships simply due to your identity (race, gender, sex, ethnicity, ability, etc).
  • The groups in every identity category that have more power than others experience more privilege. For example, in our society Caucasians hold the most power, therefore Caucasian is the most privileged in our society and every other race experiences a certain degree of oppression.
  • Negative biases, micro-aggressions, and overt violence is more commonly directed towards identities with less privilege.
  • By not acknowledging or understanding your privilege, you inadvertently gaslight those that are experiencing oppression.

Systemic Racism & Oppression

  • Systemic racism is racism embedded into the design of our government, our policing agencies, our laws, our education curriculum, and other “systems” and “institutions” in our society.
  • Since our systems were all created in a patriarchal and racist society, of course our systems and institutions are flawed.
  • These biases and flaws in our systems can be seen in these examples:
    • From 2000-2017, Black People were 36.5% of those killed by Toronto police, despite being 8.3% of the city’s population.
    • Black Canadians are 3% of the population, but 10% in federal prisons and are more likely to be in maximum security and subject to use-of-force.o Indigenous Peoples are 4% of the adult population but 30% of federal and provincial prisoners.
    • Indigenous women are 42% of female prisoners.
    • Indigenous prisoners serve more of their sentence before release versus other prisoners.
    • Since 2010, Indigenous inmates increased 52.1%.

Allyship

  • Allyship is a verb. It is an action.
  • It is committing to not only being there for others that are less privileged than you but also supporting and helping them.
  • Here are some ways to be an Ally to others:
    • Amplify the voices of others – never speak for a person or on behalf of a person. You are not the keeper of their stories and experiences.
    • Use Inclusive Language – Be aware of terms that subtly reinforce bias or stereotypes.
    • Call out bad behaviour – if you see overt discrimination and prejudice, call it out.
    • Call in behaviour – if you see implicit discrimination or biases at play, call that person in to have a discussion with them.
    • Follow an array of diverse voices and listen to them – learning and growth will not happen without being challenged.
    • Become a mentor or sponsor to a Black person, an Indigenous person or a Person of Colour.
    • Seek training to understand your own stereotypes, biases and privilege.
  • Be careful and mindful of “The Pedestal Effect” – this is when a person with privilege is given special treatment and shout outs for even small positive acts for anti-racism behaviour – when Black and People of Colour have for years done the emotional labour and carried the load for advancing equality.

Non-Racist vs Anti-Racist

  • Calling yourself “colour-blind” is a racist action because it illustrates that people of colour and their experiences in life are invisible to you.
  • You can have friends that are Black and still be racist.
  • You can know and respect a co-worker that is Black and still be racist.
  • No one in our society is 100% non-racist if you live, were born in or were educated in Canada or the U.S. (to just name the countries in our closest proximity) as you would have been raised or educated in a country designed with racism embedded in its systems and government. Every single person has biases, whether you are cognizant of them or not, ingrained and socialized into us by those that hold the most power in our society.
  • The only way to combat racism and these injustices is through actively being anti-racist.

How to be an Anti-Racist Ally

Re-Education

You have a responsibility to educate yourself. There are enough free resources available to do this very easily. Refrain from burdening your Black colleagues or friends by asking them to teach you or by asking them to share their very personal experiences or stories of inequality which can be re-traumatizing.

  • Diversity and Inclusion Training and Resources
    • CEC offers a variety of diversity and inclusion training for individuals including a multitude of e-courses and webinars coming soon.
    • Others that offer amazing training and resources include Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, Action Dignity, Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation, Community Wise, YYC Voices, the Unlearning Channel, and there are many more.
  • Podcasts
  • Books
    • If you are ordering books off of Amazon, consider ordering them directly from a Person of Colour business or Black-owned independent sellers such as A Different Booklist, Another Story, Librarie Racine, Massy Books and Iron Dog Books.
      • “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo
      • “How to be an antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
      • “You can’t touch my hair” by Phoebe Robinson
      • “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge
      • “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein
      • “Twelve Years A Slave” by Solomon Northup
      • “The Meaning of Freedom” by Angela Y. Davis
      • “White Fragility: Why Its So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin Diangello
  • TV/Movies
    • 13th
    • When They See Us
    • Selma
    • Miss Simone
    • Dear White People

Actions

LISTEN and LEARN

  • Commit to continuous learning on anti-racism.
  • It is your responsibility to educate yourself and there are a multitude of free resources online to learn.

Then TALK

  • Now is not the time for silence. Silence is ignorance. Ignorance is unacceptable.
  • Begin thoughtful conversations with your family, with your friends, with your co-workers and others that you interact with to learn how you can all commit to doing better and how you can learn together, share resources with each other and hold each other accountable for action.
  • Call-In and Call-out people when you witness discrimination, prejudice, or biases.

DONATE

  • Give to organizations that support and empower Black communities like:
    • The Come Up
    • RARICA NOW!
    • La Connexion Afro Latina
    • Black Arts Matter YEG
    • BIPOC in Bloom
    • Shades of Color
    • APIRG
    • Black Women United
    • The Africa Centre
    • Freedom School Toronto
    • Frontlines Toronto
    • Federation of Black Canadians
    • Harriett Tubman Community Organization
    • Black Lives Matter
    • Black Women in Motion
    • Black Liberation Collective
    • Black Youth Hotline
    • Black Legal Action Centre
    • Zero Gun Violence Movement
    • National Black Coalition of Canada Society
    • Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada.

VOLUNTEER

  • Give your time at any organization listed above or any that you know that is advancing anti-racism and supports and empowers Black communities.

SUPPORT

EXAMINE SYSTEMS

  • Examine systems around you that are within your immediate control (family and workplaces) and learn how they are reinforcing or maintaining patterns of oppression and exclusion. This can include critically examining the racial dynamics in your workplace. Then, take action to change them.

Political ADVOCACY

  • Contact your MP, MLA and Councillors to let them know that anti-racism is important to you and encourage them to commit and share their pledge to anti-racism.
  • Also encourage your elected officials to financially support and advance anti-racism policies, services, programming and training for government and its Agencies, Boards and Commissions (including police).

Examine YOURSELF

  • Where are you privileged in your life? What are some examples of accomplishments that you are proud of and how would it have been more difficult to achieve this if you were a Racialized Person or a Black Person?
  • In what ways have you been educated or taught to believe in the superiority of whiteness?
  • In what ways have you engaged in language or actions that promotes stereotyping of Black People?
  • How do you plan to educate yourself about the historical injustices experienced by Black communities?
  • What do you pledge to do to be anti-racist going forward?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable?

How to be an Anti-Racist Workplace

  • Tone is set at the top of an organization and your leaders must issue a statement or video outlining their support for anti-racism and inclusion work and demonstrate how they will commit to this work through their actions.
  • Check-In with Black employees as they may be feeling overwhelmed and traumatized by recent events and were already carrying an #EmotionalTax.
  • Do not burden Black employees by tasking them to lead anti-racism work or expecting them to share their personal stories and experiences with others in the workplace.
  • Ensure you have racially and culturally diverse wellness practitioners in your Employee Assistance Program.
  • Collect identity disaggregated data. You are not able to effectively address a problem if you cannot see it. Data is critical to change, and all companies need to start collecting data on their workforce, stakeholders, volunteers, boards, and communities disaggregated by diverse identity factors.
  • Add Allyship to your corporate values and explain what it means to your company and set clear expectations for allyship for each employee.
  • Commit to all-staff learning with accountability. This can range from requiring Unconscious Bias training or Anti-Racism training, or requiring teams to watch anti-racism movies and hold team discussions. All staff members should be required to create a personal action plan to combat their personal biases and stereotypes.
  • Introduce an Equity or Inclusion Tool that can be adopted and integrated into all aspects of your company or organization like the City of Seattle’s Racial Equity Toolkit.
  • Examine your board diversity.
  • Analyze your workforce for its diversity.
  • Examine your Recruitment and Hiring practices to increase diversity and remove systemic barriers.
  • Examine your workplace policies and procedures to detect systemic barriers and remove them.
  • Create new diversity and anti-racism programming for your workplace to ensure Black people, People of Colour and Indigenous Peoples are advanced in the workplace.
  • Start or provide greater support to Employee Assistance Groups (ERGs) in your workplace for Black employees. It is incredibly important to have a safe and supportive place for Black employees. If you already have a Black ERG, then have your entire leadership team humbly and compassionately meet with them to learn about their experiences and how you and your company can be allies for anti-racism.

 

Sources: Canadian Equality Consulting, Canadian Human Rights Commission, ON Human Rights Commission, Statistics Canada, The Unlearning Channel, Community Wise, Black Lives Matter.

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