This week the Canadian Race Relations Foundation released a report based on a survey on how Canadians feel about racism within the country. As a Black woman, I found none of the findings shocking. By and large the report finds that racism has increased for Black, Indigenous and Asian people and despite that the majority of respondents are hopeful that radicalized people will have an increase in respect in their lifetimes. This survey reminded me of the work the Government of NB wants the Commissioner on Systemic Racism to find and what other surveys conducted in NB have found recently. What I am left wondering, yet again, is after the NB surveys were conducted, after the CRRF report has been released, after Dr. Manju Varma finishes her work for NB, where do we go from there?
We continue to see proof over and over again that racism is real in Canada. It is a reality that I, the other members of Black in the Maritimes, every guest we’ve had and most readers of this blog can relate to. I believe that the surveys previously conducted in NB and the CRRF report elucidate these realities for any white allies, and even acknowledge that white allies have started to recognize the racism that surrounds them and their own privilege. As our society becomes increasingly aware, we have to ask where we go from here. Awareness is not enough. You cannot acknowledge a wound and expect it to stop bleeding without a bandage, ointment, rubbing alcohol. Our systemically oppressive society has created a wound amongst several radicalized groups, and simply continuing these surveys and acknowledging that these problems exist does not dismantle the systems.
I ask this question very specifically of the New Brunswick government who plans to do some more polling and surveying. The answers continue to come back that New Brunswick is racist, their government is racist, the system is racist, so having a Commissioner to re-poll the population feels like a waste of resources. What we all really want to know is how the government of New Brunswick will change their systems if Dr. Varma does provide a report that confirms what we all know. After watching Bla*ne H*ggs refuse to enshrine Truth and Reconciliation day, contemplate revoking Indigenous tax exemptions, yet wear an Orange shirt for a photo op…It’s hard to have faith any systems would change in the 4 years he will be premier.
If we as a society are at a place where we can acknowledge that racism is rampant in our society, how do we start to dismantle the system? A gentle reminder that great allyship is calling out when police aren’t properly reprimanded for misconduct, asking the government to be and do better through speaking to your MLAs and MPPs, asking questions about why BIPOC people around you are being treated the way they are. It is useless to be “woke” and not to shine a light on where the system is problematic. Use these continued surveys to fuel your rage, to prove that nothing has gotten better, to fight for your loved ones who have spoken out in this survey and said “in the past two years our situation has gotten worse”.