When I read and heard the last words of George Floyd (“Please I can’t breathe”) my heart hurt. It was a physical response. My hand went to my chest, my eyes closed, I knelt. This is unbearable. This – pain, injustice, and the normalization of this pain and injustice – we cannot bear it anymore. The world is standing up.
That is how most people feel. This is a stance I share. It’s not ok that we live in a world where it is normal that Black men and women are dying, and nothing has been done to change what has become a horrific pattern.
In addition to these senseless deaths, we live in a world where these everyday facts are normal too:
- Black women earn only 75 cents for every dollar paid to a white man, while white women earn 81 cents (Payscale, U.S). - Just 8% of managers and 3.8% of CEOs are black (U.S. data). In the Fortune 500 companies, there are currently only three black chief executives, down from a high of 12 in 2002. - Black Canadian women may be under-screened for cervical and breast cancer, even though evidence from the United States and United Kingdom indicates Black women may be predisposed to worse outcomes from the disease. - Statistics from the Toronto Board of Education show that 20% of black students drop out of high school, double the rate for white (11%) and other racialized students (9%). And Black students are also more than twice as likely to take applied courses in high school, making advancing to university difficult—nearly half of them won’t even apply to post-secondary. (Behind the numbers)
By letting this kind of existence continue without fighting for change, I am complicit too. It’s long past time to do something about it.
Some of you may feel uncomfortable or uncertain of what to say, how to react, or even how to feel. That’s good. We must recognize that there is much we don’t know, and once we recognize that, we can start asking the questions that matter. We can find out the answers, we can learn, and we can make progress. Dr. Maya Angelou’s words will help:
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Start by educating yourself. Start to know and understand. Activism can take many forms, and you can help. To affect meaningful change, we all must.
- 10 Steps To Non-Optical Allyship by Mireille Harper
- I Want To Be An Ally But I Don’t Know What To Do by Giselle Buchanan
- If You’re a Young Black Woman in Corporate America, You’re More Likely to Be Underpaid—And Stressed by Erika Stallings for O Magazine. This is an eye-opening read for everyone, but especially young women climbing the corporate ladder.
- How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama
- The Problem with “Color-Blind” Philanthropy from Harvard Business Review
- The Massacre of Black Wall Street in the Atlantic (written by Natalie Change, crafted by The Atlantic’s marketing team). This story is so outrageous, you might mistake it for fiction. But it is not.
- This list of resources from the Finimpact blog, which lists actionable ways we can support Black business owners – How to Support Black-Owned Businesses
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi – diving into this after listening to Ibram on Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us
- King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild – I think this is an especially important book. Racism is not just a problem in North America. This book shines a light on European colonialism, and dives deep into the horrific genocidal plundering of the Congo. I read this when I was 23, and it changed my life. As someone who loves, romanticizes, and travels frequently to Europe it was so important for me to understand this history. We cannot ignore it.
- Understanding black stories: the cineplex website/app has curated a collection of films featuring important stories in black history and is making them available and free to watch – please take advantage.
- We Cannot Stay Silent About George Floyd by Hasan Minhaj – I think Hasan’s perspective as a POC and an Asian in North America is especially important
- James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)
“The American Dream is at the expense of the American Negro,” James Baldwin declared on February 18, 1965, in his epochal debate with William F. Buckley Jr. at the University of Cambridge (The Atlantic).
- Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness podcast episode 149. How Do the Legacies of Slavery and Jim Crow Laws Still Affect Americans Today? With Deborah N. Archer
- A Decade Of Watching Black People Die from Code Switch
- 1619 by The New York Times. An audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.
- Buy from these Black-Owned Canadian Beauty, Fashion, Health and Lifestyle Brands
- Black Owned Businesses In The GTA Open During COVID
- Here’s a list of 100 Black-owned businesses in Toronto you can support right now
- 39 Black-Owned Businesses You Can Support Today and Everyday – list from Glamour. Many of these businesses are located in the U.S., but some brands are available easily online!
- Donate to BLM Toronto
- Donate to the Harriet Tubman Community Organization
- Donate to Black Women in Motion
- If you cannot donate your funds, maybe you can donate your time and your voice
To my black friends – I love you, and I stand with you in the fight against systemic racism and oppression in this world, and say that Black Lives Matter.
Thank you for reading xox