Understanding Anti-Black Racism and How to Be an Ally: Allyship
Description: In this video, various experts discuss anti-Black racism and allyship, as well as the importance of allyship and how to be an ally.
Date: July 14, 2020
[A white and purple background appears with the title "Understanding Anti-Black Racism & How to Be an Ally — Allyship"]
[A black background with white text appears with the title "What is Anti-Black Racism?"]
Patricia Harewood: I want to state very clearly what anti-Black racism is. So, it is baked into all of our institutions in Canada from health care, to education, to the system of justice, to the public service and it's really policies and practices rooted in our institutions that basically reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, stereotypes, and discriminate against Black African, people of African descent. Those stereotypes that we know, that I will not repeat, that find their way in the workplace and in decision-making.
[A black background with white text appears with the title "What is Black Lives Matter?"]
Isaac Saney: The slogan "Black Lives Matter" is, first of all, not an exclusionary slogan.
[An image of 4 people in a videoconference appears. The speaker, Isaac Saney, is in the lower right corner]
In fact, by saying "Black Lives Matter" you're actually saying All Lives Matter, right? But what you're specifically saying and what "All Lives Matter" obscures, is the fact that people of African descent are disproportionately, and that's an understatement, the victims of state violence by the police and other forms of discrimination, right?
The point of "Black Lives Matter" is actually "all Black Lives Matter too," and that is in a sense what it translates into in a very simple sense, right? To acknowledge this history, this very specific, this very unique, this very well-documented history of not only of state violence against people of African descent, but the whole slew of discrimination and disenfranchisement and marginalization that the state attempts to impose on people of African descent.
Richard Sharpe: I think we need to recognize that people were not talking about "All Lives Matter" until people started asking for those kinds of rights, right? So we need to be careful when we use it because some people use it to discredit and to silence our voices when we're asking for this at this particular point in time. Professor Saney is very much correct; it's Black lives matter too. So, this is a historic moment where we need to capitalize on that and see what gains that we can make for our peoples in this country.
[A black background with white text appears with the title "What is Allyship?"]
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Someone who is not Black but with whom you can work with, count on, and trust"]
Patricia Harewood: Someone who is not Black, but with whom you can work to address systemic anti-Black racism, even when it is not popular to do so. Someone who you as a Black person, as a Black trans person, as a person with
[Patricia Harewood appears on screen]
mental health issues, as a Black woman, as a Black gay man, as a Black person with family obligations raising children, because we're not all the same, we're not homogeneous, someone who you can count on and trust.
So, because my discomfort with the term "ally" is that it implies someone who's going to help, someone who's going to save, a group that is oppressed and has been historically marginalized. I think what is needed is a fundamental shift, a realization from power from people who wish to help or be allies and who hold power, that
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Recognize the struggle against anti-Black racism is not solely the struggle of Black people alone, but all people"]
the struggle against anti-Black racism in the federal public service and in society at large is just not the struggle of Black people alone. It must be the struggle
[Patricia Harewood appears on screen]
of every public servant.
[A black background with white text appears with the title "How to be an Effective Ally?"]
[Patricia Harewood is speaking in French with English subtitles on screen]
Patricia Harewood: Firstly, we need to listen more. Active listening is paramount,
[A purple bar with white text that says "Actively Listen" appears in the top left corner next to the speaker]
and I think that, and I say this with all due respect, we need to let people with the lived experience of anti-Black racism talk about their own experiences in the public service so that you can better understand their realities.
Second point: Don't rely on others for your learning.
[A purple bar with white text that says "Educate Yourself" appears in the top left corner next to the speaker]
That means doing the work, doing the research, better understanding the issues experienced by Black public servants, visiting FBEC's website, reading Professor Saney's suggested books, such as Desmond Cole's The Skin We're In, to better understand what anti-Black racism is, how it manifests itself in our institutions and how to confront it.
You have to accept criticism.
[A purple bar with white text that says "Accept Criticism" appears in the top left corner next to the speaker]
For example, do you know that the word you used in this meeting is offensive to our communities given the history of slavery and anti-Black discrimination in our country?
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Recognize your privilege and power"]
As an ally, you must recognize your privileges and your power, and it should be discussed openly.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Support Black public servants"]
We must support Black public servants, not just with kind words, but with concrete actions.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Use your privilege and power to dismantle systemic racism"]
You have to use your privilege and your power to dismantle systemic racism, and that means that it requires extra effort to balance the disadvantage.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Ensure qualified Black people have access to advancement opportunities"]
Ensure that qualified Black people have access to advancement opportunities, acting positions, formal or informal mentoring, coaching and leadership opportunities.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Do not expect rewards or recognition"]
As an ally, you should not expect to receive rewards or special recognition, because you are dealing with the daily problems experienced by Black public servants.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Share decision-making power"]
You must be prepared to share decision-making power at all levels with qualified Black people who deserve positions.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Include Black public servants in your professional network"]
A special effort must be made to build a professional network that includes Black public servants.
[A purple background with white text appears with the text "Provide fair and positive references and evaluations to deserving Black public servants"]
Finally, you must give positive references and positive and fair evaluations to deserving Black public servants
[Patricia Harewood appears on screen]
in order to allow them to advance in their careers and their lives.
[Patricia Harewood finishes speaking and a purple background with an animated icon of a book with a maple leaf in the middle appears and then disappears, text appears on screen for the website Canada.ca/school and then disappears and the Government of Canada logo appears.]
Anti-Racism Learning Series
The Anti-Racism Learning Series provides access to tools, job aids, courses, workshops and events on topics such as anti-Black racism, unconscious bias, disaggregated data, mental health and the challenges faced by visible minorities in the public service.