The fight for justice and a society in which Black communities are not systematically targeted and brutalized is not over. Allyship requires a sustained commitment to combatting anti-Black racism and, as do each and every one of us, we here at the YW Kitchener-Waterloo, have a responsibility to keep the momentum going.
Our mission has always been to improve the lives of women and girls, including trans folks and gender nonbinary people. We know that we cannot stay true to this mission if our focus does not include a particular focus on Black communities. Black women, Black trans women, Black gender non-binary people and Black people with disabilities experience higher rates of unemployment and violence by virtue of not being white, or cis, or adhering to gender roles, or heterosexual, or able-bodied.
The long history of anti-Black racism in our country has meant that Black communities have been the targets of systemic discrimination and state-sanctioned abuses for centuries while cries for justice fell on deaf ears. Reckoning and reconciliation are long overdue. But we are committed today, and every day, to play our part in setting things right.
In 2014 the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) launched the #SayHerName campaign to bring to the forefront the names of Black women and girls killed as a result of police violence.
Because of the #SayHerName campaign the deaths of Black women and girls, who like Black men are murdered by police at disproportionately higher rates than white men and women, are no longer overlooked.
Thanks to the #SayHerName campaign we now know the names of women like Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson and Breonna Taylor.
While women like Sandra Bland, who in 2015 died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody as a result of a ‘routine’ traffic stop, or Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot by police when they descended on her home in response to a “welfare call” about an open door by a neighbour, or most recently, Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed by plainclothes officers executing a ‘no-knock’ warrant when they forced their way into her apartment and fired over twenty shots at her and her boyfriend, would be alive today were it not for a kind of terror known all too well by Black and Indigenous communities. Instead, their untimely deaths serve as reminders that the work towards equality is necessary until it is achieved.
As part of our commitment to support and uplift Black communities, we are proud to continue to operate our In Her Shoes entrepreneurial training program. Our In Her Shoes program was created for women – with a special focus on new Canadians, cis and trans women, and non-binary individuals – interested in employment skills development training. Through our In Her Shoes program, we help women of colour facing barriers to employment develop the skills they need to compete in the job market. Click here for more information about our In Her Shoes program or how to register as a participant.
We know that the work does not end here. Far from it. This is only the start. We understand that we have a responsibility to identify our role in perpetuating anti-Black racism and to combat it. We continue to evaluate how our organization can uphold our promise to empower women of all intersections while also looking internally to understand how we contribute to these issues, in our practices and beyond, and how to do better.
For more resources on how you can help, Twitter user @dehyedration has compiled an extensive list of resources that include educational tools, places to donate, petitions to sign and lots more. Check that out here. For more news and information on national actions or to further support the work of Black Lives Matter visit their site here or connect with your local BLM chapter by finding them here.
In a position to give? Make a donation today and help support vulnerable women and children experiencing homelessness or barriers to employment in the community.