Yes those are members of the Black Panther Party and yes that is a Confederate Flag…and these folks were working together as allies…keep reading if your mind is blown…
I was asked to share my thoughts about addressing racism and White Supremacy in Canada on CBC Ottawa’s All in A Day today. Listen to the interview here.
First, I want to apologize because I had wanted to state that today, August 23rd is The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. I really hope that someone at today’s rally mentioned this.
Why August 23rd? Because it was around this date that the uprising against slavery began in Santo Domingo (modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
As we are currently seeing a number of mainly Haitian refugees coming across the US border to Canada, and we are figuring out whether we are going to welcome them like our government keeps claiming it does with refugees or deport them, like our government keeps doing to refugees, I think it is even more relevant to reflect on this day.
I need to be frank. This is one of my worst interviews.
I am super irritated right now as I have been trying to get a national Muslim organization to address issues of anti-Black racism by at least considering training and developing a policy and their Executive Director flat out refused.
Considering that we are based in Ontario, a province that has committed to addressing anti-Black racism, along with Islamophobia, through its Anti-Racism Directorate, this refusal was not only clearly problematic, it also left me feeling once again that, because I am Black, I will always be seen as less than by pretty much ALL Canadians, even those who are also experiencing forms of discrimination.
And that’s how a lot of Black folks in Canada feel.
It’s why at the end of the day I don’t want to go to some protest at the US Embassy about being angry at Nazis.
At least Nazis are honest to me about not seeing me as an equal human being.
But when I see people CLAIMING to care about issues like Anti-Black racism but straight up REFUSING to do the work necessary to actually address it….like getting training and developing policies with teeth so that their organizations can stop perpetuating this form of discrimination in their organizing, I am left wondering how we are ever really going to be able to combat racism in this country.
So, honestly, when I started my interview, after hearing whose voice from the demonstration was played and knowing that I had just recently had my legitimate concerns about anti-Black racism and classism in their organization disrespectfully dismissed by this person, I just felt really drained, and really scared and that is the energy I brought into the interview.
We have a country full of people who know what to say and know that no one is going to hold them accountable to do ANY Work. But if you say the right thing at a rally or on social media you will get the credibility of being an advocate for social justice, even if you really are ONLY interested in the rights of people who are EXACTLY like you.
We finally have some means of addressing systemic anti-Black racism in this province through the Anti-Racism Directorate but that’s completely contingent on whether the Liberals get re-elected or not.
That’s another reality that scares me, not Nazis.
Death is death but some deaths won’t be seen as the result of race hatred…like if a young Black girl whose spirit has been crushed by classism and anti-Black racism in an Ottawa Carleton District School Board school goes and overdoses on fentanyl, will we see her as a victim of systemic discrimination in our education system? Another casualty of Ontario’s school to prison pipeline?
Will we have a rally?
No, because she wasn’t killed by Nazis.
She was just killed by a system that our lack of commitment to doing Real WORK Daily against racism, and classism, and other forms of discrimination, allows to survive and thrive and CRUSH People.
THAT’S WHAT TERRIFIES ME
Seriously, how many demonstrations have we had in Ottawa focused on AMERICANS!
So we demonstrated against the Trump Ban but did we demonstrate against the fact that Canada holds immigration detainees, mostly Black folks because let’s face it we are definitely the immigrants and refugees this country does not want, in maximum security prisons indefinitely, a policy that has been condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Committee?
Did you go to the rally today but NEVER knew about this?
Well, read the coverage about it in the Toronto Star here
It is sad when I honestly feel SO MUCH MORE UNDERSTOOD by former White supremacist when I raise these issues than all of these social justice activists.
The fascinating reality is many former White supremacists in Canada and the US who now do work countering White Supremacy will be the first to tell you that very little work is being done to combat these movements BECAUSE they are White people.
And even when former White supremacists propose good programs to help reach out to people wrapped up in these movements, our governments have done little to nothing to support their work.
If we are serious about addressing the rise of White Supremacist and White Nationalist Groups in Canada we need to support the building of organizations in Canada like Life After Hate, where former White Supremacists and counselors work to get people out of these movements.
This is pretty similar to the work people are trying to do with Muslims who have been radicalized so if I am advocating for that for Muslims, I am going to also advocate for the same thing for many White Supremacists too.
You can write signs telling them to F-Off and get them fired from their low-level survival jobs but seriously What Then?
We also need to start countering the narratives that frankly are targeting White poor, working class or underemployed middle class young people. Why in the world are they blaming Indigenous folks, immigrants, refugees and racialized folks for why they have no jobs? Someone is telling them that is who is to blame.
But are we offering a counter-argument that directs their frustration at the CORRECT target or are we just calling them racist if they are wondering why the Canadian government seems to be able to help settle 25,000 Syrian refugees but can’t do anything to address the reality that so many middle aged folks across this country have lost their jobs through automation and companies leaving Canada and are not going to be able to find stable work again?
I’m sorry but our government and in particular ALL of the major political parties in the country are epically failing to address totally legitimate socio-economic concerns from White Folks.
It is totally racist for White folks to blame Indigenous and racialized folks for these socio-economic issues but I am also angry that the response of government and political party officials is to tweet about diversity instead of addressing “the FART that no one wants to claim” that is our serious issues around employment.
So, want to fight racism, Get EVERYONE EMPLOYED! Or at least start by providing genuine counter-narratives that recognize there is serious socio-economic disparity BUT racialized folks and Indigenous folks are NOT to blame for it. If anything WE are even MORE severely impacted by it!
Frankly, I just think all of this racist drama is a distraction so we don’t pay attention to the very serious and troubling issues of governance and the economy playing out in Canada and the US right now.
I feel like I am being manipulated to focus my anger on White Supremacists and White Supremacists are being manipulated to focus their anger on me so that NEITHER of us focus our anger on the folks who USE THE RIGHT WORDS BUT DO NOTHING.
I still think there is so much to learn from the short lived but inspiring Chicago-based coalition between Black Panthers, the Young Patriots, and Hillbilly Nationalists who waved the Confederate Flag (Yes this happened, read about it here).
They came together across racial lines to address systemic class oppression. This was called the Rainbow Coalition and it also included Latino groups. Check out the great lecture about the history of the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago here
If I am honest, this is the kind of work I would like to see done to combat White Supremacist narratives that are targeting poor, working class, and underemployed aspiring middle class White Canadians in urban and rural communities.
But I am so drained from dealing with the hypocrisy of self-proclaimed social justice advocates that I am not sure I will have the energy to do this work…
Maybe after I burn some bridges and detox from hypocritical spaces that are so exhausting I will have the energy to do this important work.
Who else would be interested?