Each day the news and social media are full of incredible stories of injustice, courage, loss, and hope. It has been heartbreaking and jarring, but also necessary to witness. To hear the stories and experiences of racism from so, so many. To hear their voices amplified and to try to amplify them. To see what other individuals, and companies are doing (or not doing). To learn what I can do, how I can change, and how I can contribute in my own small ways. To then take action.
To be honest, I have been processing, reflecting, and acting privately as things have unfolded over the past few weeks. I haven’t wanted to share because it has felt so big but simultaneously delicate. Amongst the calls to action and accountability, there has also been an incredible amount of shame, vitriol, unfettered rage, and judgment. It has made for a strange minefield to traverse. Wanting to be supportive. Wanting to say and do the right things.
In early June, a friend in one of my WhatsApp groups said:
“I think maybe we all feel a little lost. Sometimes it seems like the world has broken into a bunch of little pieces and we’re all trying to put it back together in a way that makes sense. Including who we are and how we fit into it.”
This struck a chord with me and has been rolling around in my head. For many of us, there has been a necessary breaking as we come to better understand the experiences that Black and non-white people have every day. It has been brought into clear focus the profound systemic racism that is deeply ingrained in so many parts of our society. We have been forced to confront and examine the pieces, our role, and see some of the ways we can put ourselves back together better than before.
This rebuilding starts with each of us individually. It starts with examining parts of ourselves we might not like. It starts with having uncomfortable conversations with our friends and families. It starts with educating ourselves and others. It starts with supporting the people in our Black and non-white communities by donating to organizations that empower them. It has to start, and it has to continue.
We can’t change the past, but each of us has a role to play in building a future where Black and non-white people experience and benefit from the same privileges white people have. Our job is to make sure the momentum of this movement doesn’t slow down.
Here are some ways that people who have never been on the receiving end of racism can get started:
- Black-owned businesses in Edmonton to support as well as across Canada.
- A reading list put together by YEG BLM.
- A list put together by YEG BLM of organizations that empower Black communities in Edmonton and Canada that you can learn more about, support, and donate to.
- A great starting point my friends at Unbelts put together to explore and learn more about queer and Black experiences as activists, writers, models, and beyond.
- An awesome and comprehensive list of books, resources, and ideas put together by Kick Point.
- A playlist called Listen to Black Voices put together by the Alberta Podcast Network.
Learn, listen, and act.