What to say—what not to say. When to speak—when not to speak. To whom to listen, to whom to cede the floor.
Struggling over words aside, there’s one phrase that’s unquestionably appropriate for the current moment: Black lives matter.
Again, I turn to others’ words:
- Police and state violence, particularly against Black people, is hardly a uniquely American experience. Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present has featured often in reading lists and conversations lately, and, from what I’ve heard, rightly so. If you, like me, haven’t yet read it but are looking for some grounding, Maynard gave an interview to CBC Ottawa a few years ago.
- Sameer shared some quotes, poems, and links that spoke to me. (Don’t miss the list of organizations to which to donate, if you’re able.)
- And, for folks reading this who are like me, who benefit from the colour of our skin and all the privileges it accords, seen and unseen, remember that “White Supremacy is not a Black Problem”. That’s the title of a piece by Andray Domise, from five years ago. “White people know racism exists. Now it’s time for them to finally do something about it”. That’s the headline of a piece by Vicky Mochama, from this week. (And, let’s also acknowledge that Black journalists are underrepresented in our newsrooms, h/t to Vicky Mochama on Twitter for linking to that clip.)
Many of you work, as I do, in the public sector—don’t let that provide you an excuse for silence. As public servants, we must serve the whole public, and it’s on us to advance these conversations internally and, wherever possible, externally. (That “wherever possible” is wider than many of us admit to ourselves—advocating against racism, against white supremacy isn’t a partisan issue, and if it becomes so, well, let’s shut the door on that.) And we ought also to consider our own house, wherever we have influence over it: consider the near total lack of anyone but white people at the highest ranks of the federal public service, and potential reforms to address that inequity.
All the best for the week ahead.