During Black History Month, other communities of colour can join in solidarity

Ending racism between all communities of colour requires recognizing it exists

Every person of colour is affected by systems of racism and oppression, but not all of us are affected by racism in the same way. 
 
Black History Month is a time to reflect on the history of slavery, segregation, Black heritage and culture and more. But for other communities of colour, it should also be a time to reflect on how Black communities are affected by our own anti-Black racism — racism that is targeted specifically towards Black folk. 
 
Anti-Black racism has recently come to the forefront of our attention — it’s why the Black Lives Matters movement exists. According to its founders, Black Lives Matter “is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society,” but it doesn’t focus on just white-on-black racism — racism perpetrated by white communities. 
 
The movement is about creating a world where Black people aren’t systematically targeted because of their Blackness. Communities of colour can do their part in making that happen by making sure they aren’t part of the problem. 
 
The most important thing that people and communities of colour need to understand about anti-Black racism is that it’s possible for people of colour to be racist as well. Racism is a system of oppression that manifests itself in many ways, including in stereotypes and cultural perceptions. It can be subtle, but it’s still very much real. 
 
In my own community, I’ve heard elders criticise other minority groups for taking welfare checks, when they themselves have also benefitted from social security programs. The idea of a hierarchy between minority groups is perpetuated in communities of colour because of these hypocritical sentiments and that’s exactly what we should be fighting against. 
 
As people of colour, we have to acknowledge the ways in which we’re marginalized but also the ways in which we’re privileged. This includes acknowledging how different people suffer from racism in different ways. 
 
Another example is how Asian communities face the “model minority” myth — the idea that all Asian people are more successful than other minority groups — more often than Black communities do. Other communities experience their own kinds of racism, for example, the number of incarcerated Black and Indigenous Canadians is growing at high rates. 
 
Oppression isn’t a contest. There are ways to stand in solidarity with the Black community that don’t diminish the struggles your own community faces. This February, as we celebrate Black History Month, turn to your community and ask how you can help movements like Black Lives Matter, and listen when you’re told you can help by not contributing to systems of oppression already in place.  
 

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