Hello Black Lives Matter Toronto!
We are writing from Rhythms of Resistance (ROR) to stand in solidarity with BLMTO — below is the statement we’re publicly releasing to announce and describe that solidarity.
Rhythms of Resistance Toronto stands unequivocally with Black Lives Matter Toronto.
As activists, as agents of anti-oppression, and as individuals with conscience and empathy, we call for sustained and generous support of Black Lives Matter TO. We ask this particularly in the wake of their measured and reasonable action at the 2016 Toronto Pride parade, but also in the weeks, months, and years that follow.
BLM’s sit-in at Pride 2016, while condemned by many as an unwelcome intrusion into a celebration of diversity, in fact acts to maintain an important and yet often overlooked trajectory of pride – that is, that pride IS political. Pride celebrations are marked in the lineage of the Stonewall Riots which were predicated largely upon the outrage of the Black, trans community. Since, our celebrations have marked the passing of laws, the granting of rights, and the legalization of love, however there is still immense work to do. A demonstration of peaceful protest – one that highlights this remaining work, and that underlines the injustice, oppression, violence, and murder that still burden marginalized communities – is the very heart of Pride. When these communities are Black, we can look to the very roots of Pride to find the means by which to welcome protesting voices. To suggest that this sit-in was inappropriate is reprehensible. We are honoured to sit with BLM TO.
Since the sit-in at the Pride parade, at least five more Black lives have been taken by direct or indirect police violence: those that have been widely reported include Philando Castile, a man who was gunned down in his car in front of his girlfriend and 4-year old daughter after being stopped for having a broken tail light, and Alton Sterling, a man who was shot while incapacitated on his back after it was discovered that he was carrying a legal and registered firearm. More quietly, the body of a Black man was found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park, Atlanta on Thursday. The Atlanta Police Department released a statement calling this a suicide despite suspicious circumstances, including the fact that the death occurred only hours after the KKK plagued the area with their hate literature. On July 4th, Delrawn Small was shot by an off-duty police officer after a near-collision in Brooklyn while his children looked on. And now, today, Alva Braziel who was shot ten times because Houston police believed that he had a gun – a stark contrast to the armed white man in Mission Bay in 2014 who was shot once to disarm and then taken into custody. These lives matter. Black lives matter.
We condemn unrestrained police violence against Black communities. We stand in opposition to the racist vitriol directed towards BLM TO since the 2016 Pride parade. We stand in support of BLM TO and their continued efforts to draw attention to racial injustice – even when these efforts are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Especially then.
We would like to publicly re-commit ourselves to a consciously evolving comradeship, and to a renewed, active relationship with POC communities in which we listen, engage, stand alongside, take risks, collaborate, take to the streets, and continually question ourselves. We will be asking ourselves where we have ignored our privilege, where we have looked away, where we have prioritized our comfort over the suffering of others, and where we can do better. We call for others to do the same.