“When someone shows you who they are, believe them”. This quote, often attributed to celebrated and well-loved African-American poet and author, Maya Angelou, appeared time and again on my various social media platforms as primarily Black, Asian and Arab people found themselves gaslighted, contradicted and called out, for raising concerns about the treatment of Black and racialized people, primarily international students attempting to flee the devastating war in Ukraine.
In the Field
Afro-futurism/African-Canadian Liberation/Black histories/ month- all contested and complex concepts. Not surprising given our people’s four hundred plus year presence on these Indigenous lands colonized and settled by the colonizers. Our place in the meta-narratives of what we now call Canada, diminished when not completely erased. Still. 2022.
We enter this last month of the calendar year with increasing alarm and some frustration as new variants of the COVID-19 are detected here at home and throughout the world. Frustration- or at least mine, comes from the knee jerk response of the Canadian and other high income countries quickly moving to shut their borders primarily to travellers from countries in the Global South and South Africa.
I forgot. For a long moment I forgot that I/we are living in “The Wake”, to borrow from Christina Sharpe. Sometimes the four hundred years old waves and eddies are disguised by the islands of liberation we carve out for ourselves in these broad and deep oceans of racialization and racism. Anti-Black racism.
We can exhale as a sector now that the federal election is behind us and we have at least a month or two before we turn our attention to the scheduled Ontario provincial election in June 2022 and the Ontario Municipal elections in October 2022. I have been asked over the past couple of weeks since the election what I’m hoping to see out of this new Parliament. There is much but the priorities are as follows.
The announcement of the federal election call and the news about the escalating crisis in Afghanistan occurred within hours of each other, the latter threatening to derail the former before the campaigns had even begun. Immigrant serving organizations, particularly those with refugee resettlement programs went on high alert, memories of six years ago- another campaign, another humanitarian crisis, all too fresh.
As we approach mid-summer, the attention of non-profit sector leadership is turning to plans for return to work come September. There is great uncertainty still, as new variants of the COVID-19 virus appear, first vaccination uptake seems to be stalled, and there is talk from various sources about a possible fourth wave that may lead to renewed lockdowns.
The day began with the news that the statue of Egerton Ryerson, often lauded as the father of education, but more recently and more accurately known as a key architect of (Indian) Residential Schools, outside Ryerson University was torn down. The sculptured head was detached and dropped into the Toronto Harbour. A symbolic move, but one that resonated with many whose families experienced the violence of the residential school system.