On Friday, May 29th several members of the BYTE team attended the #justiceforregis solidarity vigil in Whitehorse organized by some incredible members of our community (thank you Paige, Asad, Meriya, Antoinette, Annie and Colin).
Since then I’ve been reading and re-reading the many generous posts by BIPOC folks on my newsfeed. I use the word ‘generous’ because at a time when our BIPOC friends, colleagues, and community members are exhausted, outraged, sad and terrified – they are still taking the time to help educate and tell their community how to do the right thing, how to be better and how to pay more than lip service to “allyship.”
And it’s thanks to all those voices and more that we keep learning and that our organization keeps learning. So today, we write in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movements and join their calls to end all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence and brutality. We join their calls to say this violence is happening in Canada too. We join their calls for Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquette.
And justice for Jason Collins.
And justice for Eisha Hudson.
And justice for Colten Boushie.
And justice for Tina Fontaine.
And justice for D’Andre Campbell.
And justice for Dafonte Miller.
And justice for MMIWG.
And this list goes on and on and on.
But what does it mean for our organization to join these calls to action? The list is endless and our work has to reflect this too but here is a blueprint of how we start:
1. We are not going to ask our racialized staff to educate us. Our white staff will continue to be critical of mainstream media and do our research.
2. We will continue our staff book club (currently going through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and read Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad as our next book.
3. We will be compassionate towards our BIPOC staff who are not only showing up for their jobs but who are showing up for their community, organizing, grieving and more. This labour is both visible and invisible, both heavy. This may look like offering paid time to organize vigils, reminding them to take (paid!) mental health days, offering to pick them up a coffee, and just generally checking in on them, more than usual.
4. We will continue to question and discuss how our organization benefits from systemic oppression and we will engage in anti-oppression training.
5. We will use our social media to amplify racialized voices and experiences. We will use our social media to highlight BIPOC-led organizations doing social justice and community care work. We’ll also take these conversations offline and have them with our board, staff and youth in our workshops.
6. We will think critically about our Board structure and why there aren’t BIPOC folks represented on our Board. We’ll do the research and make the changes to create a more inclusive board. We’ll be aware of tokenism.
7. We’ll continue to get comfortable being uncomfortable! We know that it’s going to take some work for us to do better and we might make mistakes but we are prepared to get called in and called out! We’re thankful for the many teachers who have already done so over the years.
8. We will listen. Over the years, I’ve learned it’s so important to know what you don’t know – and there is a lot we don’t know! So we listen. We listen with the goal of understanding, not with the goal of responding.
9. We will commit to keep talking and sharing about how this work goes for us, about what we learn and about the times we felt uncomfortable and why.