BY SOPHIA BROWN RAMSEY, BLACK CANADIAN ACTION NETWORK
Like many across North America and the globe, the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) of Peel is deeply disheartened by recent tragedies of anti- Black racism that have sparked mass demonstrations across Canada, the U.S. and abroad. More troubling, however, is these incidents – the violent deaths of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and D’Andre Campbell – are the tip of a pernicious tapestry of anti-Black racism baked into all public institutions including policing, courts, corrections, education, health, and child welfare.
The health disparities related to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial inequities and tensions surrounding education in Peel are just a few examples of pressing concerns about anti-Black racism in Canadian systems beyond policing. While we are encouraged by the outpouring of support from allies among White and Non- Black People of Colour, we remain concerned that such sentiments will remain moot if our public institutions fail to implement strategies to identify and address anti- Black racism and the culture of White supremacy which perpetuates it.
Regressive, colourblind policies and discourse (such as the dismantling of the provincial Anti- Racism Directorate, hiring of an all- White team of deputy chiefs and superintendents by Peel Police, and claims of Canadian exceptionalism among politicians) are a reflection of the inconsistent commitment of our institutions to address anti-Black racism and making meaningful change.
BCAN stands in solidarity with the global movement to address anti-Black racism and demands that our politicians live up to their public statements committing to address anti- Black racism through actions that will help to turn our mourning, our pain into policy. BCAN refuses to celebrate too soon, but we are cautiously optimistic about recent efforts to address systemic anti-Black racism, such as the federal Anti-Racism Strategy, the review of the PDSB by the Ministry of Education, and the Pulling Together Initiative of Peel Children’s Aid Society.
As we and other community partners commit to working with PDSB to address anti-Black racism and improve outcomes for Black students, we hope that we are also able to work with the other public institutions in the region to create a community in which all members are able to live, play and thrive. Eliminating anti- Black racism will be a hard-fought battle that requires courageous and visionary leadership.
BCAN is committed to working with our partners to mobilize our Black communities and building on a foundation of good faith with institutional partners across sectors, political affiliations and all levels of government. The Black community is gasping for air. We all heard the dying words of George Floyd – “I can’t breathe!” and so the time has come for ALL systems to take their foot off the necks of every Black person and live up to their commitments to address antiBlack racism.