We reached out to Hoodstock, a local organization whose mission is to start conversations that will eliminate inequality and provide real support to communities.
Coordinator Cassandra Exumé let us know how you can be actively anti-racist in Montreal every day.
Exumé's responses are translated from French and have been condensed and edited for clarity. Also included in this article are links to other resources for further reading.
This article includes discussion of slavery, torture, and violence.
How can Montrealers be actively anti-racist?
Speak out against racist acts, words, jokes, and behaviour loudly and clearly at the time these actions take place. Waiting to act or talking about it behind walls does absolutely nothing.
Film when you see police brutality and share the videos/images on your networks. There's very little media coverage of police brutality and racist behaviour here. Social networks allow us to change the sensationalist media narrative that ignores our realities.
Break the psychological bias caused by racism by questioning yourself. "What is the first thought that comes to my mind when I see a Black person?" "Where does my prejudice come from?"
Do not use the sentences, "I have a Black friend" or "my boyfriend is Black" to defend racist behaviour. The diversity of your environment does not prevent you from engaging in these behaviours.
Do not wait for the murder of a Black person to denounce and identify yourself as being someone who advocates anti-racism. The hashtags pass but the racism remains.
Don't be afraid to talk about racism with your family, relatives, and friends. These conversations are uncomfortable but tell yourself that we all experience this discomfort every day of our lives.
How can Montrealers best support the Black community?
Support organizations working for racialized communities by making monetary donations.
Encourage businesses in Black communities by making more purchases from them. In order to quickly access a directory of businesses (services, products or organizations) owned by people of African descent, I recommend, among others, the Unite & Prosper platform created by the organization 0rijin Village which will be launched in a little while.
Listen to the experiences of Black people as they tell you about police brutality and their difficulties in accessing careers and housing. Don't try to make excuses for the situations they've been in.
It's not the time for dialogue, it's time to listen.
What are some local organizations Montrealers can support?
What do Montrealers need to know about racism in their own city?
Racism is and remains a long-disguised injustice, but it's part of Montreal's history and its monuments.
Some historical facts that are not taught in our history classes:
The story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a Black slave, accused of causing a fire that destroyed part of the city. She was tortured, executed, and hanged.
The Sir George William Affair (Concordia University Pavilion). Black students filed a complaint accusing a teacher of failing them for the sole reason that they were Black. In protest, they occupied the computer lab on the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building. To learn more, watch the documentary Neuvième étage available on the National Film Board of Canada's website.
James McGill, the founder of McGill University, was a slave owner who, using his wealth obtained through this practice, was able to create the university.
Of course, there are other historical facts, hence the importance of researching, reading, and educating yourself.
The Librairie Racines is full of books that tell our story.
Take the time to learn more!