These past few weeks, the world has watched as Americans grapple with the systemic racism that results in the deaths of so many Black people at the hands of police. We have been reminded many times (we could post links here all day) that this is not just an American problem: Canada also has systemic racism in our history, laws, and economy. We have racism right here in Northumberland – Peterborough South.
None of this is new or surprising, but it’s resonating with more people right now than ever before. Images of police brutality in America are encouraging others to come forward with their stories, and the calls for serious action are spreading. Governments are listening, and beginning to implement changes.
The Green Party of Canada and the Green Party of Ontario uphold Respect for Diversity as one of our core values, but that doesn’t mean that we are immune to racism. There is a long history of racism in environmentalist movements, and in the 2019 federal election we fielded the whitest slate of candidates of any party. Candidates with diverse identities, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), as well as gender and sexual diversity, reported encountering discrimination from their own volunteers and riding associations. The Green Party of Canada has created a staff position charged with addressing inequity and promoting diversity within the party, our recent hires and election to Federal Council featured more racial diversity, and our current leadership contest is the most diverse of any party – so we’re far from perfect, but we’re making a concerted effort to challenge systemic discrimination internally.
I don’t write this so Greens can pat ourselves on the back; changes in our party need to be reflected locally as well, and we want to be a resource to the constituents of Northumberland – Peterborough South. The population in our riding is ~97% white, so many of us have been able to remain ignorant of the racism in our area. Now that we are being confronted with the extent of racism in our society, many of us are experiencing a lot of different and conflicted feelings. We’re seeing this internal struggle expressed on social media as people process what they’re seeing. Few people are good at this, none of us are perfect, and all of us are part of the broken systems that keep some of us down. With that in mind, here are some resources that can help white people process and understand systemic racism and our role in perpetuating it – and stopping it.
Because white people rarely experience or even see racism, it can be difficult for us to acknowledge it, much less dismantle it. Learning more about systemic discrimination in our history, including gender and sexual discrimination, and especially hearing the stories of individuals, helps us to contextualize it and address it. This is by no means exhaustive! Please do your own searches too, and let us know if you find resources that are particularly helpful!
Discrimination, then and now
- Canada’s History of Slavery – two-part Ideas radio episode (with write-up)
- Anti-Racist Films – National Film Board
- “13th” – Award-winning documentary looking at anti-Black racism in the US (available on Netflix)
- Viola Desmond – a Canadian pioneer against segregation
- “Reflections from a Token Black Friend” – recent blog post helpful in seeing anti-Black racism in white circles
- The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King – an excellent book exploring the history of the colonization of North America
- Reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – very thorough recounting of the cultural genocide against Indigenous people in Canada, with calls to action
- Final Report from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Inquiry – very thorough examination of systemic racism’s impact on Indigenous women and girls in Canada, with calls to action
- “The 1981 Toronto bathhouse riots” – article on the history of LGBTQ2+ activism and liberation
- Uncover: The Village – podcast about the murders of gay men in Toronto’s Gay Village
- “Gender Equality in Canada: Where Do We Stand Today?” – editorial
- “Gender Based Violence in Canada: A Case for Concern” – post outlining GBV in Canada
Processing discrimination, becoming an ally
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo – Youtube (this book is currently out of stock at the publisher – apparently a lot of people are buying it!)
- The Guide to Allyship – excellent resource for helping us think through how to address racism
- “So You Call Yourself an Ally” – post about non-performative allyship, or how to be an ally without making it about you
Canada has an anti-racism strategy, but it’s mostly focused around education and information campaigns. Education is great, but there are concrete policy changes that can counter systemic discrimination. Some of these seem like radical ideas, so please check them out before passing judgment – they actually make a lot of sense, especially if they are implemented in a thoughtful way that reflects the needs of the communities where they are implemented. Here are a few that we support:
- End “Carding”
- Defund the Police
- Collect race-based data
- Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
- Implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Implement the Calls for Justice of the MMIWG report
- Build critical infrastructure on First Nations
- Recognize Indigenous sovereignty and repeal the Doctrine of Discovery
- Institute restorative justice on a wide scale
- End the discriminatory blood ban
What else should we be doing? How can we better address discrimination in our community? Do you have a story of discrimination that you want to share? Let us know. Our community needs to be safe for everyone.