South Asian Youth (SAY) Collective Statement on Anti-Black Violence


“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Davis

As members of the South Asian Youth Collective, we assert our solidarity alongside Black communities fighting against police brutality and the mass murder of Black people here in North America and around the world. We understand that it is not enough to merely state our support and solidarity. We must do the work every day to unlearn anti-Blackness, support and amplify the voices of Black people, educate other non-Black allies, and show up for Black people as the movement continues for all Black lives, including Black trans lives, to not only survive but thrive.

As we continue to grieve the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and the countless other lives brutally lost at the hands of the American police, at the hands of white supremacy, we cannot ignore the continued violence, murder and oppression of Black people here in Canada.

White people and non-Black people of colour in Canada are actively complicit in anti-Black racism if they think that anti-Black violence is solely a reality in the United States. Canada’s colonial nation building project has been built by stealing Black and Indigenous lives, land, and labour. Canada as a country, on unceded Indigenous territory, has a history of using the RCMP and other police departments as a weapon of white supremacy against the Black community and Indigenous Nations.

In Montreal, the SPVM, like all police departments in Canada, has a long history of killing innocent Black people. Anthony Griffin (1987), Preslie Leslie (1990), Osmond Fletcher (1991), Marcellus François (1991), Trevor Kelly (1993), Alain Magloire (2013), René Gallant (2015), Bony Jean-Pierre (2016), Pierre Coriolan (2017) and Nicholas Gibbs (2018) are only some names of the Black people who have died at the hands of the SPVM.

And the names listed above are only in the context of Montreal. As recently as last month, on May 27th, Regis Korchinski-Paquet died in Toronto, after requesting police help to de-escalate a family conflict. O’Brien Christopher-Reid (2004), Duane Christian (2006), Junior Manon (2010), Michael Eligon (2012), Ian Pryce (2013), and Andrew Loku (2015) are some of the names of the Black people who have died at the hands of Toronto Police. We demand that our governments put in motion real actions to ensure this violence never happens again. We would also like to assert that police interventions do not need to be deadly in order to be disproportionately violent towards Black people. We call to action our elected officials to defund all police departments in Canada, with the long-term aim of abolishing the police and prison system.

Furthermore, as South Asians, we must not ignore and remain silent about anti-Black racism that runs deep in our communities. South Asian cultures, as it is today, is a constant setting of microaggressions that target Black people, Black South Asians, South Indians, West Indians, and dark-skinned South Asians. Colourism is a system of violence that continues to remain largely unchecked in our communities. Prejudice, discrimination and violence against dark-skinned South Asians is the extension of the violence against Black people, and to not fight against both shows the apparent hypocrisy in South Asian communities when it comes to anti-Black racism.

To South Asian allies, posting and protesting in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is important, but it is the bare minimum. We call for all South Asians to critically assess, unlearn and call-out anti-Blackness and colourism in our own communities, including and within ourselves. We cannot only fight against police brutality, as if it isn’t a larger global system of anti-Black violence and genocide. We can no longer ignore and stay silent about ingrained beliefs and practices that members of the South Asian community continue to uphold, reinforce, and use as weapons against Black people, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Finally, as South Asians we must shed our belief in the model minority. The Model Minority Myth is used by the state to cast doubt on racial inequality and violence. This myth pits marginalized people against each other. Asians are taught that we should not align ourselves with Black people and communities. In adhering to this, we are encouraged to believe that our personal safety and institutional success will be safe-guarded. This narrative is nothing more than a false sense of security. To believe in this narrative means using our privilege as non-Black people in order to stay silent while remaining complicit in anti-Black violence.

We, as South Asians, need to end this narrative, and combat anti-Blackness in our own communities as well as show up for the fight against the genocide and mass violence of Black people. We must rethink our own communities’ relationship with the police, and allow ourselves to reimagine alternative forms of justice. We need to answer the call for concrete actions that Black activists are demanding from us, including joining their fight to abolish the police and prisons, and restructuring education, healthcare, social security, and government.

Thank you,
The South Asian Youth Collective, Tiohtià:ke / Montreal

June, 2020

Sources:

1 Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard
2 “Defund the police, not just to end police violence, but to end violence itself” by Nathalie Batraville

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