On Friday, January 15, we participated in Black Shirt Day. Staff and students wore black shirts to mark the civil rights struggle of Black Canadians and promote and encourage a discussion of black history, anti-racism and civil rights.
This Friday was chosen to be the day of the demonstration as it’s the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. – one of the most influential and remembered Civil Rights leaders. The Coalition organizing Black Shirt Day wishes for it to be a day of mandatory curriculum on Black history, which we don’t currently have in B.C. This demonstration comes at one of the most pivotal times in North American history in terms of social and political justice.
As I’m sure you all know in the past few years there has been an explosion in protesting, activism, and all forms of demonstrations fighting against the ethnic and racial injustices, namely against black Americans, Indigenous peoples, Asian-Canadians, and Indo-Canadians. That said, the injustices against those communities didn’t just appear last year. Discrimination, prejudice, and racism in all forms against those communities have existed for as long as our recorded history.
Now, you might ask why are WE having a black shirt day? We live in Canada! That’s true, and we’re participating for two main reasons. One, to show our solidarity and support for all of the injustices that are far, far too common in our neighbouring country the US. Two, because racism happens here in Canada too believe it or not. The Anti-Racism Coalition wishes for Friday to be a fight against all forms of racism against all racialized groups. Unlike Orange Shirt Day, Black Shirt Day is a show of solidarity and recognition of the racism that currently exists and sadly thrives in our communities today.
If you’re questioning the actual effectiveness of participating in this demonstration, that’s a valid question. The answer lies with the Indigenous movement ‘Idle No More.’ The marginalized and racialized groups have been forced onto the sidelines and silenced for too, too long. Movement must be made now, and we all must help the silenced speak however we can. By wearing a black shirt, you are showing that you are making effort to educate yourself about the racism that exists today and with the media coverage of this demonstration, you’re showing your support for those who are fighting for racial justice on higher playing fields.
I also invite you to go simply google Black Shirt Day so the petition on change.org will pop up and go and sign it. It will go to the BC Minister of Education asking to establish January 15 as Black Shirt Day permanently province wide."