As a black woman immigrant and CEO of an organization committed to ensuring the full participation of immigrants, refugees and marginalized communities, I’m in a unique position to use my voice to stand up against anti-black racism and stand up for our staff and clients who have experienced racism because of their faith, religion, sexual orientation, or colour of their skin. Anti-Black racism “is policies and practices embedded in Canadian institutions that reflect and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and colonization here in Canada.” Historically and currently, systemic racism and racial inequalities in Canada have had significant negative social, legal and economic impact on the lives of Black Canadians. I have personally experienced micro-aggressions, racism and discrimination as have many members of my family and friends.
The horrors we have seen in the United States and Canada of police brutality on black men & women has brought to light the work we need to continue to do, and the solidarity we need to demonstrate so we can break the cycle of systemic racism and ensure this brutality ENDS. Black Canadians have existed in Canada for over 400 years. Over those four centuries, we have made significant contributions to all facets of Canadian life. However, we know that black professionals in this country are less likely to be considered for corporate and board leadership roles than their counterparts. We know that transgendered black persons face higher murder rates and acts of violence than other members of the LGBTQ+ community. We know that hate crimes have risen in Canada, particularly against the black Muslim community. We NEED to come together, use our voices and our influence to ensure the black community no longer faces these acts of oppression.
What can we do?
Skills for Change has been in the community for over 37 years. In that 37 years we have supported hundreds of thousands of immigrants, refugees, and the broader community to settle in Canada. And while we have made strides to combat racism in our community through program development, we still bear witness to discrimination against many of the communities we serve, and in particular, our black communities.
Skills for Change stands against anti-black racism and systemic violence against the black community. We call for systemic reform and change. We at Skills for Change remain committed to fighting racial discrimination in all forms and being a part of the solution to racial equity.
Skills for Change has worked with and will continue to work with Black community leaders to support social, employment and civic engagement programs such as leading the Jane and Finch Community Impact Collective, and implementation of leadership, research and employment programs in majority Black communities. In addition, Skills for Change has supported the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit by hosting conversations with the black community to help combat and remove barriers caused by anti-black racism. I am a member of the 12-peron partnership and accountability circle, selected to help guide the CABR Unit and support the full implementation of the Toronto Action Plan to confront anti-black racism (https://www.toronto.ca/abr). We are committed to developing more programs focused on Black Mental health, supporting Black Trans and LGBT2Q+ community and programs for Black Youth Leadership.
What can you do?
There are many ways you can show your support for the Black community.
- Use your voice to share the stories of members of the Black community on your social media feeds;
- Donate to a local charity or community group that is Black-led and Black Serving
- Support locally black-owned businesses;
- Have conversations with your friends and family about Anti-black racism
Helpful Learning Resources
- Addressing law enforcement violence as a public health issue (2018)
- Let’s Talk: Racism and health equity (2018)
- Key public health resources for anti-racism action: A curated list
- Racial health equity: Embracing a decolonial, anti-racist practice
- “Racing” the social determinants of health and health equity (Part 1 of 2)
- “Racing” the social determinants of health and health equity (Part 2 of 2)
- Can understanding Whiteness improve anti-racism activities in health?
- Disrupting the colour-coded labour market: Implications for public health organizations
“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?,” King questions. “In a sense, our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our winter’s delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these occurrences of riots and violence over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” Martin Luther King, 1953.
Surranna Sandy, CEO, Skills for Change