Black lives will never matter in Canada until they matter to Black people enough that will force them to utilize every tool in the toolbox to fight back, and the biggest tool is the Black vote.
A lingering question permeating the minds of Blacks throughout the provinces is how many more not guilty verdicts can the community take, especially when it comes down to police officers and the shootings of unarmed Black males.
Yet another devastating blow was dealt to the Black community in Toronto when recently an inquest jury ruled the case of Andrew Loku, a South Sudanese native, a homicide, a verdict that does not carry any criminal or civil liability. In addition the jury also made thirty none recommendations, including several aimed at better training for police officers.
In Montreal, the shooting of Pierre Coriolan once again brought Blacks face to face with police and how they deal with the mentally ill, especially when in crisis. Nevertheless, even as the chapters of the Black Lives Matter Movement rise up against police shootings of Black men, there still appears to be a cavernous gap—no existing figures to show the number of Blacks shot and killed by Toronto police.
Neither Statistics Canada, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, nor the Toronto police have any race-based statistics on fatal police encounters.
Both researchers and activists have condemned this Canada-wide trend, terming it willful blindness.
University of Toronto criminologist Scott Wortley has voiced his amazement at the fact that despite Canada’s developed state, advanced criminal justice system, data collection on everything from carding to criminal record to the number of tickets that anyone gets, yet one cannot find good information on police-related shootings.
Following the decision and the shooting, Black Lives Matter Movement across the country resorted to their well-rehearsed and well-known choreographical form of response, knowing full well that the cards will always be stacked in favour of the police? How much longer will we protest and march, waiting for oranges to fall from apple trees? The back-to-back exonerations of police officers responsible for the deaths of black men serve as exclamation points. The more we protest, the more we march, the more we scream Black Lives Matter, the more we witness black lives being lost with no justice gained.
Believe it or not, take it or leave it, but Black lives will only matter when the Black vote matters. For Black lives to matter, then the Black community must have an agenda, and the Black agenda must matter as well. In a democracy like Canada, the only way to get others to respect us and to value Black life is through the political process— that of becoming politically active and engaged. There is no room for political apathy, or political laziness. No other avenue will be effective. Whoever has the economics has the power and whoever has the power has the politics – they go hand in hand. No longer can the Black community afford to be politically disinterested regardless of how many disappointments we suffer.
If Black lives matter, the agenda must be backed by a mobilization and political education effort for the Black community. Additionally, we must re-educate the Black community to re-engage in the political process. In a domino-type effect, if Black lives matter, Black organizations must matter. If Black organizations matter, then Black capital and Black politics must matter. Never will we achieve the success towards which we aspire without coming to the basic reality that politics is an essential component of our struggle.
Some of our issues are not just local, but have national ramifications. If Black lives matter, then we must own the political infrastructure, which means that Black votes must matter.
Because our challenges are inter-connected and inter-related our solutions must be also inter-related and inter-connected. Voting as a block is absolutely essential and critical to our political strategy.
Out with the marching, the sit-ins and the protests; the behaviors that we must change require that we work smarter and closer together. We must break the cycle of disunity and disconnection. No one will ever respect Blacks until they fully understand how Canada works.
The movement that will validate that Black lives matter is both internal (change behaviors) and external (hold Canada and its institutions accountable).
The essence of Black Lives Matter is about holding Canada accountable. How will we hold Canada and all its institutions accountable to our agenda? That is worth serious consideration.
Did Canada suddenly start to oppress the Black man? No!
Yes, we have activism, sit-ins, boycotts, rallies, etc. All of these things are reactionary.
If there is no Black movement, Black Lives… will never matter and the movement cannot be successful until, as a collective, we begin to believe that Black lives matter and we take “action.”
We cannot say that Black lives matter today and not take into full account our ancestors and the absolute disregard for their lives having no meaning. We must say that Black lives matter now and in the past, even though we know that our history in this country that Black lives absolutely did not matter in Canada.
Everything in Canada is both economic and political just like the enslavement of our people. Our current issues are markedly serious and real and will not spectacularly change themselves— educational disparity, police violence, unemployment, and the many social and economic disparities that Black people have lived with in Canada for a very long time and have absolute political ramifications.
The issues are inter-connected and can’t be separated. That means our strategies must be not only local, but connected to a national strategy, which we don’t have. In addition, most of our organizations are struggling because they lack capital.
Let it stand for the records, brothers and sisters, that Black lives will never matter to others more than they matter to us. If Black people are unwilling to organize and fight for themselves, then sad to say, we will continue to see that Black life is threatened even at a greater level than it is now.
Black people cannot have it both ways—having your cake and eating it too. We cannot expect to hold others accountable to our agenda when we would not even hold ourselves accountable to the basics.
The Black agenda must be developed by a Black private sector power center that must possess the following three distinct focuses:
1) Political – that fully advances and navigates the political process.
2) Business – organizing and assembling our Black business community to develop strategies, creates jobs, and increase the circulation of money in our community.
3) Grassroots activism – we must align all existing activist groups to focus in the political agenda.
The private sector power center must work in the best interests of the Black community and be a conduit for competing interests, ideas, and priorities. In addition, the private sector power center must work to change social issues to economic ones and in the process restore public confidence in Black leadership.
It can therefore be seen that for Black Lives Matter movements to be successful they must develop an agenda to which they hitch their activism. Disunity and disconnect is just not going to cut it. Success predicated on the implementation of our collective agenda – an agenda that understands the inter-relationship of the structural issues. We absolutely need a political strategy. Protesting, detesting, sit-ins, hit–ons, sighing and crying will not provide us relief.
We absolutely need a political strategy; it is nonsense to believe otherwise. Blacks need laws to be amended, abolished and created by politicians that will support their agenda. It is the combination of all of these things that will create real change.
If you listen or read most revolutionary speeches known to man, notice how they all ring hollow when it comes to more than just activism.
It is evident that the enemy enforces his racist agenda by using the law of the land (politics), and we must do the same to defeat them. Black lives will never matter in Canada until they matter to Black people enough that will force them to utilize every tool in the toolbox to fight back, and the biggest tool is the Black vote.
Until then Black lives will never matter.
Aleuta—The struggle continues.