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Anti-Black Racism & Allyship Resources

Anti-Black racism is not new, but a series of anti-Black racist murders and violence in both Canada and the United States have brought this issue to the forefront of conversations recently. Many are wanting to understand the legacy of colonialism and anti-Black racism and their role in addressing anti-Black racism today. The Cultural Diversity team has compiled the following resource to provide the U of G community with the how-to on being a better ally to the Black community and engaging in anti-racist actions. As you’ll see, many of these resources were developed by Black scholars and activists; though we’ve compiled these resources into a guide for the U of G community, we know that we owe this education to the Black community.

What is Anti-Black Racism?

Anti-black racism in Canada is defined as “policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of Black-African descent” (Black Health Alliance, 2018).

When we talk about anti-Black racism, we aim to highlight specifically the ways in which racism impacts Black people and the multiple levels at which racism against Black people operates within our society. As well, anti-Black racism points to the legacy of racism against Black people in Canada, the institutionalization of racism, and the ways in which our social structures and organizations continue to perpetuate and reproduce the oppression of and violence against Black people. It’s important to name that racism against Black people is anti-Black racism, a form of racism that is distinct from other racisms in that its history in North America runs deep into the very fabric of this country, is embedded within our social structures, norms and beliefs, and leads to extreme and oftentimes lethal violence against Black people in Canada and the United States.

What is Anti-Racism?

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” - Ijeoma Oluo

Engaging in anti-racism is an ongoing, active process whereby we as individuals work to examine the broader societal structures that perpetuate racism and how these structures inform our experiences as individuals by advantaging or disadvantaging us based on our own racial identities. It’s a process of unlearning the things we assume to be true about people and our society and integrating a critical analysis of race and racism into our everyday lives. It also includes engaging in direct action to challenge systems of oppression and support racialized people in their fight for equity, justice and safety.

Engaging in anti-racism is a crucial starting point for allies to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) community. Allyship is an active process through which individuals use their privilege to advocate for those who do not share the same privileges in order to enact social change (Division of Diversity and Inclusion, 2018) . For example, a white person might act in allyship to the BIPOC community by advocating for and enacting change that responds to the needs and explicit demands of the BIPOC community.

What to do (and not to do)

What is important about being an ally is that being an ally requires action. It requires naming, exploring and seeking to change injustices that we witness against marginalized communities. Being an ally is not supposed to be a comfortable process, it is a critical process in which we must examine our own social locations (our identities and how we are positioned relative to experiences of oppression and privilege), how we benefit from racism and how we can address racism that we see at multiple levels in our society, whether at the institutional level or the individual level (for example, racist ideas of comments from family or friends). Below are some tangible ways that you can engage in anti-racism and ally yourself with the Black community.

Seek out Education

Do your own research. There is so much on the internet! Take responsibility for your own learning and do not ask People of Colour to educate you on race and racism. Below are several resources for further learning.

Do you know what is racist? There are many common behaviours, actions, phrases, opinions and words that people might not think are racist, but that reinforce white supremacy. For example, see the image below created by @theconsciouskid on Instagram, that demonstrates how our everyday behaviours uphold and reinforce the explicit forms of violence we easily recognize as white supremacy.

Understand, recognize and address your privilege

"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group" - Peggy McIntosh

Privilege refers to rights, advantages, immunities and benefits that particular groups of people in our society experience, and that others do not. Peggy McIntosh (1988) equates white privilege to having an invisible knapsack full of tools that enable white people certain advantages within our society. Like the invisible knapsack, privilege is invisible – it often goes unrecognized.

We all experience a combination of privilege and marginalization. Experiencing privilege does not mean that you have not faced adversity or hardship, experienced challenges, or that you have not worked hard. However, it does mean that you have a responsibility to recognize your privilege and use it to support and advocate for marginalizes groups. For example, if you are white and experience white privilege, you can use your privilege to challenge racism.

Read "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and "Some Notes for Facilitators"

Amplify Black voices

  • Share content by Black people
  • Use your social media platforms to raise awareness, elevate the voices of Black scholars, activists and community members
  • Share art created by Black people

Show Up & Take Action

  • Attend events to support and learn
  • Intervene when you witness racism
  • Use your privilege to challenge systems of oppression

Educate Others

  • Feel like you’ve learned a lot about anti-racism? Awesome! Share what you’ve learned with friends, family, colleagues – anyone. Not everyone has the same access to education, so use what you’ve learned to educate others.

Where to learn more

Further Readings

 

  1. James Baldwin: How to Cool It