This week in our small town of Salmon Arm we protested. People gathered with their signs and chanted “Black Lives Matter,” as they shrouded the sidewalks along the TransCanada Highway. The Black Lives Matter movement is taking the world by storm and bringing awareness to the devastating effects of systemic oppression and racism. It was inspiring to see the members of our community take part. Protesting with my fist in the air, I felt mixed feelings of overwhelming sadness because we are not doing enough, and humbled by the strength of being with people fighting for something much bigger than us.
It is important to stand up for what is right, even when it feels uncomfortable. People who look white have the privilege of going home and not having to think about inequality. The few hours of hate we may face when we protest is pale in comparison to the discrimination faced by visibly ethnic people every day. I’m not going to pretend like I understand the daily prejudices they face in the community and at their jobs. When we stand together, we are strong. When we stand together ALL voices are heard.
We hold our signs up for equality. For the liberation of Black People, visible minorities, and people suffering from discrimination because of their gender, race, language, sexuality, class, and culture, we stand. Systemic oppression comes from a dominant Western point of view, and this is how white privilege and power is maintained. It is perpetuated in our institutions. The history we teach our children, the way in which they have educated feeds into employment, healthcare, and wealth, or lack thereof.
Systemic oppression is so far-reaching it dictates who lives in poverty, incarceration rates, low-income housing, job opportunities, and access to adequate healthcare. These inequalities are the reason statistics are so bleak. For example, Statistics Canada released data the week of June 29, 2018, that shows Indigenous youth made up 46 percent of admissions to youth correctional services in Canada in 2016-17 while accounting for only 8 percent of the youth population. One look into the legislation of the Indian Act, the residential school system, and land reservations, demonstrates why Canada’s Indigenous populations are not thriving. These are examples of racism being exercised through our current government system. We can do better.
I stand and protest because I believe we can change our system. We can change how people are treated by having a more diverse representation in history, education, and policy. I make a stand because Black, Indigenous, and other ethnic peoples are dying in the streets at the hands of our law enforcement who should be protecting them. The death of George Floyd is not an isolated incident, but it is the tragic end result of a broken system. I protest in solidarity for the people who have been oppressed, with the hopes that together we can create a better system.
An eye-opening article as an Indian-American Muslim girl by Humera Lodhi ~ https://www.huffpost.com/entry/a-muslim-at-mizzou-does-s_b_8539080
CBC news covering Indigenous Incarceration rates 2018 ~https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-incarceration-justice-system-panel-1.4729192