Anti-Black Racism: A Year’s Reflection on Progress and the Path Forward
Toronto, May 26 2021
The past year was challenging, rife with incidents seen and experienced on a global scale, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest in various parts of the world, and heightened racism in many forms. It was in this social and political backdrop that the heinous murder of George Floyd was committed by a police officer and viewed worldwide on 25 May 2020. This sparked a global outrage on Anti-Black Racism and bringing it forcibly to the attention of the world. The growth of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Anti-Black Racism protests, and the many recorded incidents of Anti-Blackness, prompted many organizations to pledge support for the Black community. To address and combat Anti-Black Racism, Skills for Change’s Spotlight Series was introduced, creating a convening platform to examine the issues plaguing the Black community and the BIPOC community in general.
One year later, these critical discussions have come full circle, reviewing the tumultuous year since the public outrage against Anti-Black Racism, and the related actions and changes. Despite much-committed support, there has been a lack of follow-through on plans and initiatives that were committed and undertaken in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the Anti-Black Racism protests. “We have these conversations. There is a lot of talks, but the initiatives and actions that need to take place are slow to happen. We need to have more conversations that can actually move us in the direction that we need to go,” stated Kim Borden Penney, President of Penney Consulting Services Inc. and Ph. D Candidate at the University of Toronto.
In agreement, Dr. Wesley Crichlow, Critical Race Theory Intersectional Scholar and criminology professor, noted how the Black Community had been a subject of enough studies and reports, highlighting the need for action. “We have been overstudied. We don’t need any more reports. We have over 40 or 50 studies in Canada on the Black community. We need to talk about implementing these recommendations,” Dr. Crichlow said, “An audit should be undertaken of the recommendations that have been implemented from these reports done. We need to look back at them and find a constructive, strategic way to implement them.” He further noted, “Anti-Black Racism denies Black people their humanity since enslavement. The program should be an opportunity to also discuss what Historian Saidiya Hartman terms the “afterlife of slavery,” and the concepts informing dehumanization. Which continues to limit Black people’s life chances.”
Key studies have also identified how racial barriers faced by Black people have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, propelling key issues surrounding Anti-Black Racism into the limelight. While the awareness is a welcomed change with increased attention and pledges of support, these systemic barriers still exist for Black people and Black-led organizations. Access to funding for Black-led organizations, for instance, is limited, with many Black-led organizations still struggling to get access to funds even after huge commitments and pledges made to the Black community and Black-owned businesses by companies, organizations and government entities, “Even though funding is being designated, there are still barriers to Black-led organizations getting funding,” Dean Delpeache, Director, Consulting, Strasity & Director of Talent and Diversity, Fiix Software noted, “There are a lot of non-profits out there, Black organized, and they have been putting in applications for grants to receive funds based upon them having 50% Black leadership etc., and are still not able to access funding. We need to see barriers come down as it relates to who can get access to funding.”
To effect change, these discussions culminated into the launch of the Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change program, Skills for Change’s new leadership development program for the Black community, funded by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and Accenture. Claire Barcik, Executive Director of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation stated, “A recent study showed how little funding is going to Black-led and Black serving organizations and we hope to be among those changing that by funding the Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change initiative because it felt so relevant, and it was addressing a community need and interest. This program champions Black-led community action and support for a leadership change.”
The Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change was the highlight of the Spotlight Series session, it provided a tangible pathway to support the Black community to advance and create community leaders who will eventually lead programs or initiatives that will benefit their communities. Applauding the launch, Sophia Lormeus, Business and Technology Integration, SAP Talent & HR at Accenture, noted, “I think one of the things that we need to do is invest in our communities, but not just on the surface. We really need to tackle education in various ways, for instance, we can start by changing curriculums so that there is better awareness of what is the history and what is the current situation,” Sophia Lormeus said, “It would mean investing in making sure certain pockets of our population have access to education and the tools they need to be able to learn. So, the Black community has the opportunity to thrive like everyone else.”
The engaging Spotlight Series discussion was inspirational and showed the commitment needed to create systemic change in addressing Anti-Black Racism with the launch of the Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change. It marked a renewed dawn in the fight for racial justice, and in solidarity and commitment, there was a wide consensus that a lot still needs to be done and the new initiative launched marked a start to changing the status quo. The Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change program is scheduled to start on Monday July 26th, 2021. Program info-sessions are ongoing and registrations for enrollment can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For over 38 years, Skills for Change has supported the integration and well-being of immigrants and refugees in Canada. For more information, please visit www.skillsforchange.org, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
And for more information about the Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change, please contact Kimberly Clarke, Supervisor, Programs and Services (Black Community Access and Programming) at email@example.com.