Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn is right.
As she said on Thursday night at a public meeting in Toronto to discuss systemic racism, governments need to do more to battle discrimination.
She also said that governments haven’t gone far enough to create an equitable society. Right again, Madam Premier.
Then she went on to tell us that government institutions have not lived up to that and noted that ” part of doing my job is acknowledging that we haven’t done enough.” Right again.
But that’s only part of the job – the easy part, one might add.
So what else is new?
It is very easy to become cynical about the establishment of an anti-racism office in the Ontario government – we had one before – and the holding of public consultations on systemic racism.
As Akua Benjamin, one of the speakers at the Thursday night meeting, reminded us, ” there has not been a time in the last 50 years when we have not marched on the streets of Toronto, calling out to put an end to racism.”
” Here we are many years later, doing the same thing, calling attention to the issue of racism,. It really is a shame,” she remarked.
Benjamin too is right.
But the struggle continues and we cannot afford to lose hope for a brighter tomorrow, free from the scourge of racism and racial discrimination.
In the endless discussions about racism, there is often a comparison between the situation in the United States and Canada. We are told that while there is an in-your-face brand of racism in the United States, racism in Canada is far more subtle. But is subtle racism any less pernicious than the in-your-face brand? We do not believe that it is.
We therefore need to work in cooperation with those in government and outside of government, determined to rid the society of the inequity to which Premier Wynne has alluded.
In this current battle against systemic racism, we must pay tribute to the important work of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Justice4Blacks@Work.
We should lend our support to these groups and others of goodwill, of various shades of skin colour and political persuasion, who are dedicated to improving the lives of all those in the society in which we live.
Some of us have never marched in a protest demonstration or waved a placard on the street but we all have a role to play in one way or another to promote racial harmony in our society and to work towards changing government policy to reflect that harmony and improve the lives of our oppressed brothers and sisters. We need to find creative ways of doing so, whether in our offices , churches, mandirs or mosques.
This important struggle must never give way to frustration and cynicism even though the road towards equity in the society for all our citizens is hard and long
Government come and government go. Some may be more responsive than others to the cries of the anti-racist protesters who demand change.
We should therefore support the work of the Ontario anti-racism directorate with the view to creating a more equitable society. The public consultations organized by the directorate is certainly an excellent opportunity to provide much needed input to help promote positive change.
We are heartened by the news that the directorate is committed to holding several meetings that will focus on systemic racism, including anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, indigenous racism and racism experienced by other communities.
We are not worried at this point about the relatively small size of the budget of the recently-formed directorate- $5-million.We do hope , however, that as the Wynne government recognizes the importance of the work of this office, additional resources will be allocated.
The struggle continues.