March 21 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination around the world, in response to the 1960 killing of 69 people by South African police at a peaceful protest against apartheid.
Social justice and human rights movements have called for intersectional solidarity in addressing racism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, and transphobia. Racism and colonialism have been present in insidious ways for centuries in our communities, workplaces, and institutions. In more recent times, we have seen an increase in hate crimes and violent attacks towards Black, Asian, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQI+ communities to name only a few. We must not disconnect individual acts of racism and violence from the systemic discrimination and oppression that plague our societies.
We must listen to the rallying calls for systemic change from Black Lives Matter, from Indigenous community leaders for decolonization and equality rights, and from Asian community groups and we must step up in our allyship and solidarity. We must commit to individual and systemic change and we must see ourselves as part of the solution.
There is also an urgent need for intersectional solidarity of all community stakeholders to amplify efforts in raising awareness about the challenges, and the silence experienced by vulnerable communities; whose needs and realities have been shadowed and rendered invisible.
White Ribbon believes that community awareness and sensitivity to our intersectional realities is a collective responsibility. It is crucial to stress the need and the importance of male allyship at a personal, community, and systemic level.
Having brave conversations about white privilege, colonialism, and racism with our friends, family members, co-workers and political leaders is important. It is never too late to start unpacking these issues and how they function within broader institutions, including our justice and law-enforcement systems, and de-legitimize the human rights of marginalized communities.
To prevent violence and harm in our communities, we need to encourage more men and boys and people who identify as male to represent our wide and rich diversity and embrace their role as allies.
We offer these four steps to help you demonstrate allyship in our everyday life:
BELIEVE: Listen to and believe those who are bravely speaking out against racism, discrimination, violence and oppression.
ENCOURAGE: Men and boys around you to take actions of solidarity and work with people in the community to raise awareness about the challenges of marginalized people including but not limited to racism and systemic discrimination.
SUPPORT: Check in on your neighbours, friends, and family members in need of support and refer them to available services in the community. You can also offer support by donating to anti-racism and social justice organizations and use your platform to amplify their voices. Support Black-owned business everywhere.
TEACH: Help teach other men and boys around you to be allies. Encourage allies and role models in your community to discuss allyship and solidarity with friends, family members, partners, neighbours, co-workers, and political leaders.
We offer the following additional resources to help you learn more about the role you can play in ending racism.
Book: The Skin We’re In. Desmond Cole (2020)
Book: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo (2018)
5 Initial Ways you can be a better ally to people of colour
Desmond Cole: 'Canada insists on being surprised by its own racism'
Anti-racism resource collection. Resource Sharing Project
Lupita Nyong'o: Colourism is the daughter of racism
Black Lives Matter Canada
Butterfly Asian Migrant and Sex Workers Network
Native Women's Association of Canada