Edmonton virtual workshop highlights anti-Black racism, lack of education on Canadian Black history

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Anti-Black racism includes prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination directed at people of African descent and is rooted in an experience of enslavement and colonization, facilitator Christabel Khumalo said at the beginning of the virtual talk on Tuesday.

Khumalo polled viewers as to whether they had been taught about Canadian Black history in schools, and 71 per cent said they had not.

Edmonton-Meadows MLA Jasvir Deol, NDP critic for multiculturalism, spoke after a short history lesson saying history is written by powerful, and in this case, white people.

“But I have never heard about Black history, not only that, the huge incidents like the Komagata Maru,” he said. “I don’t think students in classes ever heard about those incidents.”

Some Black participants who were not born in Canada spoke in the seminar about how they experienced barriers, differential treatment because of their accents and knowledge of local history.

As to what to do to address it, Khumalo said it’s important to speak out against it racism when you see it.

“Staying silent is communication … So whatever you can find (to use) your voice to intentionally speak on it, use it, because staying silent communicates something, it’s also taking a position that does not help anti-racism,” she said.

“Speaking up and against racism starts with an individual, self-reflecting … understand (your emotions), unpack them, address them introspectively.”

She said it’s important to be aware of your biases, stay educated, learn and to seek to intentionally teach yourself and those in your care about racism, white privilege, and colour-blindness.

Empowering Black Girls offers mentorships, workshops and runs community projects aiming to empower Canadian girls of African and Caribbean descent, funded by the federal government.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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