The year 2020 opened the eyes of many around the world.
In light of a global pandemic, it grew harder to ignore the stark truths about our fragmented institutions in society. In many ways, COVID-19 pulled back the curtain on the corruption and disarray of these systems. Lack of access to health care, job insecurity, uncertainty in our levels of government — and who suffers the most when these systems fail the public — were almost impossible to oversee.
While we sat, waited and hoped to get answers to the pandemic uncertainties, a political movement quickly became the other topic of discussion around the world.
The deaths of Black people in North America caused by police brutality and institutional anti-Blackness birthed a contemporary movement that declares “Black Lives Matter.”
Black activists have fought for their communities for generations. But as we saw this summer with the deaths of George Floyd in the U.S. and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Canada (just days apart from each other), it’s gained an overwhelming amount of traction in the public eye.
Rallies and protests ignited from coast to coast in Canada, that demanded justice for Black lives up north and exposed the system for whom it intentionally and continuously fails — Black people.
Anyone who has paid attention to the growth of this movement up north and who works to end anti-Blackness knows that in no way are these issues a new phenomenon in Canadian society.
But no matter how large the movement grows, we still encounter willful ignorance from Canadians about the presence of systemic, anti-Black racism and we must keep the momentum going in facilitating dialogue to break these patterns of ignorance.
That’s the hope with this new CBC program, Uncensored — a show airing on CBC’s Information Radio, Thursdays at 7:35 a.m. CT. We want to discuss the realities facing Black communities in Canada, including Manitoba.
Our first episode, titled The Catalyst for Change, tackles this very collective denial of white supremacy across Canada, with our first guests: Sandy Deng, Winnipeg activist (and key leader in fighting for justice in the Winnipeg police-involved death of Machuar Madut) and Sandy Hudson, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto and the Black Legal Action Centre who now studies law under Kimberlee Crenshaw at UCLA.
Both Deng and Hudson started the conversation strongly — exposing the lack of coverage from the Canadian media, which, they say, plays a drastic role in bizarre statements that proclaim racism is not “as bad” as in the U.S., or even going so far as to ask the question of whether racism exists in Canada.
How can we address systemic anti-Black racism when a large part of the population, and a large number of the people in power, would argue it’s not a problem here?
Asking these questions, as Hudson says, is a “useless conversation to have” in attempting to educate the public on the practice of anti-Blackness in Canada. It needs to be met with “journalists who hold a person in power accountable for something that is clearly happening,” Hudson says.
Deng also called to attention Canada’s perceived role of “living up to a peacekeeper status” and says we need to “look for journalists who are critical thinkers and don’t just copy and paste from down south.”
Perhaps the Catalyst for Change starts here? One that shows the raw and organic stories of injustice, people who fight for the people and ask the question some may not be ready to hear.
It’s these conversations that will start to enact change that we should all be ready for.
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