Last summer, after the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter rallies were held. People from across Simcoe County attended, supporting the Black community. A year later, I’m reflecting on where we are now. Have we made significant shifts in dismantling systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in our communities?
Perspectives on how much has changed vary depending on who you ask. Here are my personal thoughts and observations.
Let’s start by saying I am hopeful.
The many different individuals, intentionally moving toward solidarity is truly giving me hope. Being willing to unlearn, to confront their learned racial biases and challenge injustice and inequity around them is what needs to be done.
These personal learning journeys are how each one of us can become part of a new future, where inclusion and belonging are the norm. We recognize we are all at different places on the journey, but the most important piece is to just start.
Many organizations are changing for the better.
They’ve begun introducing workshop and hosting speakers. They’re examining their own equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. Senior managers, leaders and their teams are learning about anti-Black racism. Employee-led committees and anti-racism task forces are being created and have a voice. Some organizations are rewriting their policies and procedures to build equity and inclusion. Positions have been created for equity, diversity, and inclusion leads; their roles are to first assess systemic issues and then to develop and champion organizational change.
It’s encouraging that many have started this work.
Looking at what has stayed the same, however, gives me pause. Some trends have me worried about whether we will be able to build an inclusive world together. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour are the most aware of the pervasive inequity and exclusion.
They are also the most actively engaged in the work. In communities where sometimes up to 90 per cent of the population are not People of Colour, I fear a lot of people have gone back to their same lives. Without their solidarity, this leaves the hard work of building inclusion and belonging to those impacted most by systemic racism and inequity.
If you have opted to do the work towards inclusion, thank you. If you are still stuck in the past, Canada Day seems like the perfect time to make a commitment to change.
Michèle Newton is an experienced diversity and inclusion speaker. Connect with her.