Black Lives must really Matter

There is a powerful message in the decisive unity shown by Black community representatives and groups recently when they refused to engage in consultations with Toronto’s mayor and police chief unless the activist group Black Lives Matter was invited to participate in the meeting.

The fact that Black Lives Matter (BLM) could command such respect and unanimous support from our other Black community organizations is a major achievement in itself.

It demonstrates that the BLM’s full-time, two-week protest outside Toronto Police Headquarters, night and day in the dead cold wintry weather, is appreciated by the wider Black community for what it is: unrelenting defiance by Black activists totally committed to the battle against anti-Black injustice in its many forms.

That is another way of saying that BLM’s high profile sacrifice for and solidarity with the human rights of the wider Black community was subsequently reciprocated by the representatives of that same wider Black community.

The point made by the united stand against Mayor John Tory’s unsavoury maneuvering is clear: We will not allow you to manipulate the Black community with your divide-and-rule tactics.

What a shining example of the fundamental principle of organizational strategy according to which unity brings strength!

That unity in the Black community is long overdue and must be built upon.

To keep the momentum going, we need to outline and prioritize the challenges we face as a community. As we prepare our five-year plan, laying out our initiatives and projects, we detail the rationale for each venture, the incremental stages of implementation and the logical and productive linkages that we will use to have each venture reinforce and advance the viability of the other ventures.

On a point of principle, we will do well to maintain the highest respect of Black Life Matters as a brand in itself, a symbol of our determination to fight for our rights.

While it is true that all lives matter, our focus is on enhancing the quality of life of our Black community in the face of its especially high representation in the categories of social marginalization, poverty, hopelessness, negative stereotyping and negative public image.

In other words, we cannot escape the implications of such realities as our high numbers among school dropouts, students suspended and expelled, persons charged in the court system, persons in jail, and persons subjected to street checks and carding.

Those are the reasons for which we demand respect, equal rights, accountability and transparency: the reports of the province’s Special Investigations Unit must be made public in order for justice to be seen to be done; the periodic reviews of the unit must be enhanced with inputs from public consultations.

So that when Andrew Loku is shot by police and Hamilton Councillor Matthew Green is randomly subjected to racial profiling by police officers, the public can have a meaningful opportunity to form its own opinion of what transpired and why.

Black Lives must really matter.