Dela Hini, Bachelor of Applied Science
“Black Lives Don’t Matter in Canada”. This was the statement that shook UBCO and made us wake up to the realities of race on our campus. This statement sparked anger, intrigue, and dissent - everything you need for good conversation. In its aftermath, I was honoured with the opportunity to speak on a Black Lives Matter panel in October of this term. This article is a reflection of that night and the change that I have witnessed since then.
What does the BLM Movement mean to you? Does it stir you with hope as you see people who look like you, fighting for you and cheering for you? Or does it frighten you, as you watch a "minority" defiantly rise up and no longer accept the status quo? For me the BLM Movement has been one of the greatest things that I have witnessed in my life. As a young woman of colour, the world is not a place in which I have been told I can find success. Instead, it is one in which I have to work twice as hard to get half of what my lighter skinned counterparts can often take for granted. History has made it so that certain demographics inherently rise while others fall, and so the BLM Movement exists to equalize the blaring discrepancies within our racial dynamics.
With the movement has come empowerment! I see young black men and women no longer settling for how they're viewed or treated in their spaces. Hashtags such as #melanpoppin or #blackexcellence have taken over social media, and in doing so encourage a generation who was socialized to believe that black is not beautiful nor is it powerful. With this movement, power is being given back to me and everyone who has had to tread softly in public space or take care not to move suddenly in a store because of their pigmentation.
The BLM Movement also calls to question those who have stood idle in the face of racism and prejudice. In the United States thousands of black individuals experience discrimination at the hand of their bosses, teachers, playmates and law enforcement, and it often goes unpunished because it is their norm.
But some people question how race matters in Canada. One thing that we should all take away from the BLM conversation, is that if you haven't walked in the shoes of those who face prejudice everyday of their life, then you have no place in saying that the realities of their sufferings are invalid. Likewise, the BLM movement does not profess that only black lives matter, but rather it makes us all aware that there are people who haven't been allowed to matter for a very long time.
Since that night, I've seen a changing dynamic on campus, as new intellectual spaces are coming into fruition. New for some, while extremely overdue for others, the BLM Discussion has set in motion a time in which young black people on our campus openly question and discuss our treatment. Likewise, I hear new voices and new discuss as people of all backgrounds come together to heal and progress in an ever-changing landscape of thoughtfulness and self discovery.
Black lives certainly matter in Canada. They have mattered, do matter, and will matter - and we will stand for our place and our time.