Call me naive, but I wasn’t expecting the reaction we got from some to last week’s front page of a Black woman and her three kids proudly supporting Black Shirt Day.
If anything, I thought the image would be inspirational and, for many, it probably was.
After all, similar to Pink Shirt Day, which stands against bullying or Orange Shirt Day, which is a recognition of Indigenous peoples and the trauma of residential schools, Black Shirt Day acknowledges the systemic racism against Blacks and, as the chair of the Richmond School District says, presents an opportunity to understand the history of Black communities and their contribution to Canadian society.
So what’s the problem?
Well, the various outraged letter writers word it differently, but there is a theme.
Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about:
(Don’t we know that by putting that photo/story on our front page, the Richmond News is) “only helping to promote the false narratives of “Systemic Racism” and “White Supremacy”, which are popular talking point used so dishonestly by liberal and radical/Marxist politicians? These were obvious problems in prior years, but if you look at the facts these are no longer major problems today (despite what our political elites want you to belief!) Thankfully for the most part these repugnant issues have been already successfully resolved!
Unfortunately, by providing these fraudulent storylines with its platform the Richmond News is guilty of helping radical Marxist groups like BLM and Antifa with their objective of destroying Western civilization and all of the good it has stood for over the years.”
A few interesting things to unpack here.
First, as with other letters and Facebook posts we received, the writer claims to be “all for equality.” But goes on to say we already have that.
It reminds me of the Conservative senator Lynn Beyak (a white woman) who claimed residential schools weren’t that bad. Not like she’d ever been to one, but as a teen she dated some guys who went there and they seemed OK.
To claim authority on an experience one never experienced seems the height of arrogance. Granted, I haven’t been there either, but this is where listening to those who have comes in.
And then there’s that bit about Marxists/terrorists. Here’s a fun fact: According to a Washington Post article, Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln, who were contemporaries, corresponded and had deep respect for each other.
For sure, atrocities have occurred in the name of Marxism, as they have in the name of republicanism, capitalism, Christianity, even environmentalism. That doesn’t mean there is anything inherently evil in any of those ideologies or religion.
Moreover, it’s not surprising there is a leftist component to Black Lives Matter. It’s often forgotten that Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t just advocate for civil rights, he also advocated for economic rights. He was well aware that the right to vote doesn’t mean much when you’re hungry.
And regarding terrorism, for sure there has been violence at some Black Lives Matter protests (instigated by both protestors and police), however that’s not the same as planting bombs in public markets.
Finally, the idea that the “facts” show that racism has been “successfully resolved” is perhaps most concerning.
The facts simply do not show a resolution, rather they show consistent disparity between racial groups.
I don’t expect to change the mind of this letter writer, but I do expect our school system to change attitudes by encouraging conversations about — and shining a light on — the reality of racism and social inequities in general.
Black Shirt Day is a great place to start. Good on our trustees for embracing it.