We’ve all heard and seen what has been happening in the U.S. and Canada over the past few weeks. We would like to think that these events are mostly happening in the U.S. but we cannot entertain that view! Systemic racism is global and it is just as rampant in Canada ...and is happening right here in Ontario ... from the East to the West.
I’ve been listening and watching for the past several days, and have been trying to come up with the right words to address these most recent events of how Black people are treated, especially when it comes to policing, and to be honest, I cannot find the words. I can only quote Sir Robert Nesta Marley...
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandon ....”
...We must continue to be vigilant, and we must continue to demand changes to a system that view the Black race as less than. We must be vigilant to ensure that we are treated with equity... in health, education, housing, employment and especially policing. We must demand that we are treated the same as all other members of society.
It has become far too acceptable for the police to continue to treat the Black race with such blatant disrespect – most evident in George Floyd’s case and so many others before him. The woman in Central Park knew for sure that all she had to say when she called 911 is that an African-American was threatening her life, and the police would be there immediately with guns drawn. She had no care that her action could possibly cause an end to his life!
We could throw our hands up and give up, but we cannot. Black people have had enough. Black people have had enough before. There have been many marches, protests and riots in the past ... this time, somehow, could it be different with COVID-19 in the foreground?
It has been more than 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech. We must understand the reason for the marches and the protests. Let that not be lost on you especially if you have children, especially male children and grandchildren! Both my sons wrote on these incidents. The one who is so laid back recalled 3 times in his upbringing when his Dad spoke to him about race, and how he would be viewed as he grows up, and more significant ... on policing...when he got his first car his Dad told him that he could not tint his car windows. He ended his blog with this ... “now almost 30 years later I will soon have to have those same conversations with my son. Society needs to do better”.
We are being called on to take a stance and do better. Please... take a stance, do better!
The Congress of Black Women offers our condolences to all of the families directly and indirectly impacted by the murders of Black men, women and children at the hands of those who are in authority, at the hands of unjust government systems and at the hands of ignorance and hatred by Americans and Canadians alike in North America. We want to remember those whose stories have made mainstream media but also the many who have not. Our tears and frustration are with you.
Our lives have forever changed over the past weeks because of the constantly changing effects of the COVID-19 virus. We’re all feeling the gravity of the situation. Children are being kept home from school. Businesses are closing their doors, and Canadians are waking up each morning wondering what the day will bring. Depending on what you are reading or who you are listening to, the fear of a pandemic is either very real or being blown out of proportion.
That said, we all need to take precautions and listen to what the authorities are telling us to do: Wash your hands often, and use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when hand washing is not available. Social distancing is real - put distance between yourself and others. If the individual does not currently share your living space ...you must practice social distancing. You cannot meet friends for coffee – give them a call instead. If you need to bring them food...knock on the door and leave it at the door. You cannot go over and spend time with them. When you go for your walk, try to stay 6 feet from the person coming along the sidewalk. These are just a few of the obvious precautions that we need to follow.
The economic effect is also causing concern for many of us. The stock market losses, the sporting world suspensions, entertainment, restaurants, and community space closures, etc. are all having an impact on society. The Congress is no exception. While we are taking a wait and see position, we have exercised the prescribed protocols, and have cancelled our face-to-face meetings until further notice. In as much as it is possible, our work will be managed by conference calls and emails.
Please be safe and continue to protect yourself and your families, as well as your community members.