Vennetta on the frontlines
Vennetta Solena Gordon is 22-years-old and recently found herself on the frontlines in the struggle for justice for Black people in Montreal and across North America.
It’s not a place the Concordia University student expected to be at this stage of her life, but she says she has no problem taking a stand against the continuing marginalization of Blacks.
When protestors gathered at Mandela Park on Victoria Avenue in Cote des Neiges on Wednesday, July 13, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the USA against the murder of two Black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota, Gordon was front and centre in that demonstration overflowing with rage and other emotions.
She was also there at Cabot Park on Saturday, July 16, part of another massive gathering organized by two of her acquaintances, again in the name of justice for Black people.
But as motivated as she is in showing her clenched fists and lifting her voice against the recurring acts of injustice by police and societies that appear oblivious to the plight of the marginalized, Gordon will be first to tell you that those acts of protest are not enough.
“There’s much more to it than coming together and shouting; we have to figure out what’s next because just protesting will not bring change. Sure, mobilizing on a massive scale catches the eyes and earns attention but there’s a big difference between mobilization and organization,” she says.
“As much as we talk about change, we have to be part of that change and the most important part of it is to learn to trust and support each other.”
Gordon, who is a member of One Full Circle, a fast-emerging organization that’s working to build links between the French and English-speaking sectors of our community, says the time has come for us to think about the empowerment of Blacks by building an economy.
“We have to start by supporting Black businesses and other initiatives in our community. It’s the only way we’re going to build our economy,” says Gordon, a 3rd year student studying Political Science and Anthropology at Concordia. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t shop elsewhere, but it’s a call for each of us to think about our community first when we have to spend a dollar.”
She says it’s a tough commitment for many to make but it becomes easier once we re-educate ourselves.
“It’s a lesson we have to teach our youth because they have to un-learn many of the things they were taught about who we are, our history and our place in the world today.”
She says when it comes to the black reality in today’s society, young people are being fed a big lie when they’re told: ‘work hard and you’ll be successful’ or ‘anything you set your mind to, you can achieve.’
“They never tell us that the color of our skin can impact how society sees you or what you can achieve. But I was fortunate to learn it early in life from my dad at home.”
Looking into the future, Gordon says she doesn’t like what she sees.
“As a young Black woman, I’m preparing for my future and my career. I’m also looking forward to getting and having a family,” she says. “It’s important to me that my children shouldn’t have to go through the same struggle that my parents went through and I’m going through. My fear is that my children will never be free.”
“I want the world to be a happier place for my children.”