SIGNATURES TO ENGENDER CHANGE?
Call it a pre-Christmas gift from the proverbial Black community; I’m talking about twenty thousand or so signatures on a petition (in the works since last year) which was finally submitted to the city of Montreal ostensibly to bring attention to the perennial issue of systemic racism in the various departments that constitute the administration’s daily business, not the least of which is the SPVM, the police.
Not only is the petition intended to illuminate the police and their questionable interactions with certain groups, proverbial “visible minorities”, especially Black people… males, it’s also about the invisibility of colourful/cultural representation within the city’s various departments. A perennial issue that generates recurring conversation in the Black community. Problem is, successive city administrations have done little more than provide copious lip service to the issues that matter to the Black community.
And as I try to recall how many times the matter [of systemic bad practices: policing, employment representation, etc.] has been brought up, the old maxim “The more things change…” comes to mind.
With the issue of systemic racism in the police… again in the news I can’t help thinking that it’s merely another attempt by the victims of embedded bad practices to get more than vacuous “promises” from the city mouthpieces to not only do the usual political thing, promise, but also to provide substantial evidence of real and tangible change to come on all fronts, including policing and employment… putting money where their mouths are as it were.
Which is why, as heard and seen on the local news last Wednesday, December 4, the group Montreal in Action dropped a 20,000-signature petition (in fact it surpassed the target by 5,000 the required number of names to launch a consultation into systemic racism and discrimination), on Mayor Valerie Plante’s desk to draw attention to the police, underemployment of “cultural communities” Black people in our case, and other outstanding “systemic” issues…
The problem, though, is that as actual targets and victims of many historic social mishaps, we do not have even a modicum of (socio-economic, political or other) leverage to press the powers-that-be to take the 25,000 names seriously, a glaring indication of how we’re readily disregarded. As initiatives go, in the real power play games of getting attention and practical things done, years of evidence continue to suggest that we simply do not matter to those who are supposed to be responsible when we legitimately reach out to vent our grievances… [Aside, but the politicians will solicit our and take our votes when necessary.]
I for one have lost count, and tired, of the number of municipal administrations that have promised to “do more” to reflect Montreal’s multicultural demographic makeup across the board, and to address the systemic bad policing with regards to our community.
That’s because all the years of polit6ical talk notwithstanding, there has never been any political pressure applied in order to reign in the police and their systemic unethical practices. Worse than that there seems to be a lack of political will to bring about real change as questionable police practices go.
On the upside, it’s important that the Mairesse and her administration understand that on the “Cultural Communities” level Montreal’s Black community is a constituent part of the big picture, none can be excluded. All are a boon to the city’s attraction on the international stage.
But that “visible minority” description in my view is demeaning, minimizing, lending (nurturing) a perception that we’re of little to inferior value.
Visible minority (minorities); embrace it if you like; I find it unflattering, of lesser human value.
I don’t, have never liked it. It’s simply another way for those who coined the term, white folk, to describe (nonwhite) folk who have come to terms with the loaded term. I don’t see, or even describe white people as [the] invisible majority.
That said so-called visible minorities, some born here, others here by emigration, have contributed, and continue to contribute to the city’s vibrancy, attraction and development, and all nonwhite groups (so-called “visible minorities”, individually and collectively, lend to the city’s vibrancy and “likability quotient” and attraction on the international stage. We, regardless of points of origin, are in a multiplicity of ways are contributors to this place we call home.
We all bring value, richness to the demographic tapestry of the city.
Something the different levels of government should and must understand, and which our political representatives, after soliciting and getting our votes must understand and always remember.
As we’re on the verge of another era/decade, this propensity of the dominant demographic to consistently disregard our presence and complaints of police questionable doings, as well as other socio-political practices must end.
Black people shouldn’t be expected to be victims of the people our tax dollars help to pay to treat us with CPR: Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.
Montreal in Action and other activist groups could use the energy mustered in getting political attention to deal with our grievances to better use.
How many petitions must we pass around in order to get the treatment we deserve; the psychological impact of all the embedded, systemic racism-tinged behaviour we continue to endure is unacceptable and unsustainable.