FRANCOPRESSE – Often, when I lead workshops on the fight against racism, I am asked “but where is my place, as an ally?”. As I prepare my response, I see and feel the desperation of those who are eager to do the right thing, but are looking for a short and simple answer.
Paige Galette, columnist – Francopresse
This is normal… Look in what world we live in! Our phones now require that we press a single key, and presto! On command, they set to work. Likewise for devices such as Google Home; all our routine is programmed by the voice command “Ok, Google”.
But the fight against racism… it’s not a Google Home!
Recognize the issues
We can recognize that colonization had many negative impacts on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
However, we generally speak very little about it, except when appalling cases make the headlines: Colton Boushie, Tina Fontaine and more recently Joyce Echaquan, Atikamekw woman with lost his life in a hospital in Joliette, in Quebec, after having recorded with his telephone the racist remarks made by nurses.
Why do you have to lose a life to finally get into conversation and action?
Before thinking about his place in this fight, we must recognize the issues and the tools necessary to fight this monster that is racism.
To get there, you have to take action, change the status quo and always be on the lookout for the latest news.
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Traps to avoid
We want to be anti-racist in order to create a more just world and achieve social progress.
Being anti-racist often means giving your place to others: black, Indigenous and racialized people. To marginalized voices.
It is sharing or leaving the power in their hands.
I am thinking here of the notion of “by and for”, often used in Francophone communities outside Quebec: the importance of creating organizations and institutions managed by Francophones, for Francophones, in order to adequately meet their needs.
Because unfortunately, minorities are often forgotten in the decisions taken by the majority.
The same goes for the fight against racism: racialized people need to create spaces for themselves, managed and designed by them to be able to meet their specific needs, without judgment or change in behavior for the comfort of others.
Being anti-racist is also not to fall into the Tokenism ; for example, a workplace hires a few racialized people and proudly claims to be inclusive. Well done, great!
But when you visit their website, you notice that at the top of the salary scale and hierarchy, there are only white people.
In such cases, racialized people are given labor tasks, while power is held at the top, in the hands of white rulers. Although efforts have been made to achieve a certain level of diversity, inclusion and equity are not there, so systemic racism will always have its place and will not be dismantled.
Do you want to contribute to the fight against racism? Do not keep the monopoly of power and speech! We too, black and racialized people, make great leaders and have great visionary ideas. Trust us!
Do your research!
Which brings me to my last point: educate yourself!
If you can do a Google search to find out how many new cases of COVID-19 are in your area, a search on “how to fight racism” is probably also available to you!
Nowadays we are fortunate to have books such as 11 short essays against racism (Zaazaa, Nadeau), Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (Diverlus, Hudson, Ware) and Policing Black Lives (Maynard), movies, podcasts, and even endless children’s games that teach us how to be good allies.
Regardless of your learning preference, the resources are there for you.
Finally, the place of the allies is not static. Once you are considered an “ally”, you are finally ready to begin the “real real” job.
Because as racialized people, it is not a panoply of allies that we need, but fighters, ready for action!
Paige Galette is a national anti-racism and anti-oppression community activist and educator. His chapter From Cheechako to Sourdough: Reflections on Northern Living and Surviving while being Black is found in the live Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (Diverlus, Hudson, Ware).