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Your thoughts on anti-Black and systemic racism

Last Updated Jun 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm EDT

We asked for your thoughts and feelings on anti-Black and systemic racism and how we can forge a more inclusive world. Here’s some of your submissions.

Zamour Johnson:

“These are just a collection of random thoughts I put together based on everything going on in the “United” States of America and how it affects me as a Black man, even here in Canada. My experience as a Black man hasn’t been the same for most, which is explained in the video, but I still faced similar challenges as the rest of my brothers and sisters. Hopefully my video provides some perspective!”

Kristen Straughan:

My video speaks to those of us who are privileged and have power to speak up and speak out and stop using all lives matter as a way to stay complicit. Time for action is now and we can no longer stay silent. We have to become part of the solution. Communities of colour needs us to stand with them and fight with them for real change. We have to do better!

Natalie Haynes

“Race is personal … well it is for me. I hate to say this but I will because I believe in leaning into what is uncomfortable and true…I hated being black when I was growing up. I was told at 7 years old (purely to protect and educate me) that my friend might not come to my birthday party because I was black. She never came. So I believed from an early age that people wouldn’t like me because of the colour of my skin. So I didn’t want it…I didn’t want to be black. I didn’t want to be not liked.

“As I write this I’m remembering how much my belief about my skin created a lot of anxiety for me and deep desire to be likeable and pleasing to the other people in my circles growing up. My relationship with my racial identity has been long, complicated and difficult at times. As I explored my identity and my relationship to my race and my blackness, I had to look at my own beliefs and biases within myself. I had to look at how racism made me see myself and how I chose to interact with the world as a result. I now have a different relationship with myself and I embrace my skin colour and the uniqueness of my racial identity and love to learn about others.”

Hamud Mbarak aka PenMoodz

I wrote a spoken word piece to honour Ahmaud Arbery on May 7th titled, “I CAN’T BREATHE”. It’s scary how relevant my piece is more than 3 weeks later with respect to what happened to George Floyd. I hope my words resonate. My artist name is PenMoodz. I’m a lawyer by profession and poet by choice.

Roy Lake: Written submission

“Growing up in Toronto I did not see or hear of any racism our neighborhood was filled with Italians, Polish, and Blacks, to us kids we were all the same. No color no race. we would play until our parents called us in for the night. We new no matter what language was spoken or by which mother we understood every on of them. My first experience with racism was when I met my first love. Her name was Janet and she second generation Japanese. My parents were shocked as were hers when we told them that we were going to marry after her graduation at York University. During our ten years together Janet took all the racial slurs that were thrown her way with and pushed them away and in doing that she taught me that my little piece of Toronto was not the norm.

“The real world can be very cruel some times. Janet passed away shortly after giving birth to our son. My son Jesse had, I thought, a good childhood. It wasn’t until all this racism in the USA and Canada, that he spoke to me about all the racism that he endured growing up. Now I was shocked that he didn’t tell me not once knowing what his birth mother went through. He just said “why should I tell you, you could not change the way people see me not then and not now.” I was in a special bubble as a child, good friends all around of many nationalities. I now Pray and Hope that changes will happen. I realize now that I had very special fifteen years growing up in a very special part of Toronto.”

Caleb Smikle

“Why the Black Lives Matter Movement means so much to me in Canada!”

Rehan Khan: Written submission

“I have experienced both racism and discrimination at different points throughout my life. But, instead of being angry and hateful towards those who have wronged me through the years, I have used my energy towards raising my voice without resorting to violence, so something positive can be achieved and everyone is treated equal in the eyes of the law. Remember, violence does not help with a problem. In fact, it makes it much worse. I would like both racism and discrimination eliminated from Canada with a positive hope and prayer for peace and equality.”

Shania Moreton

“I am a 23-year-old mixed race woman, a 3rd year nursing student and a frontline worker. I spoke at a BLM rally in Oshawa this weekend alongside my 9-year-old brother and I am sharing this video because I think many people feel racism isn’t a problem here. They are wrong! Please watch, and I hope that this message spreads!”

Karine Coen-Sanchez

“As a Black Phd student at the University of Ottawa, systematic racism, police brutality and oppression is what we could call ‘everyday.’ Due to the recent events I have joined forces with three other Black students and we are saying the police brutality is not only a U.S problem but also a North American problem. Take a look at the video we did together as a team.”

Joey Tavares

“For the final semester of my Masters, I did an Independent Reading study with a dear professor. Queer Marx III, we called it, yet the reading list was from Black artists, academics, historians – from Claudia Jones, to How We Get Free; poetry, prose, and a history of North America in photos and records that tore me apart. I have African heritage, and I did not know just how close the pain of our history is, and how prevalent our society’s systemic racism is. Now I do. As part of the written project, I filmed a video called “Dear Black People” and put it on YouTube, with the link in my bound paper final. It’s been shown by this professor (I heard by word of mouth) to many of her lecturers, and I’ve received feedback from peers that told me I am glad I spoke out. About how I was blind, but now I can see, I broke through privilege, and now I’M FREE.”