Black History Month is an opportunity for us to reflect on the resistance and resilience of Black communities and people of African descent here in Ontario and across the country. This month, we pay tribute to the victories and struggles of the Black community and reaffirm our commitment to being strong allies in the fight for racial equity.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said Black History Month is an important period of learning, having difficult but necessary conversations, and recommitting to do the vital work of fighting against anti-Black racism.
“During this month, we celebrate and acknowledge the incredible contributions of Black leaders, community activists and frontline heroes, many of whom are OPSEU/SEFPO members at the forefront of the fight to build a fair, equitable and just society,” said Thomas. “As allies in this fight, we must continue to push forward for change.”
This year’s theme, ‘The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity’ speaks to the importance of the Black identity, the role of the “village” and why representation matters.
Over the past year, people marched and peacefully protested in large numbers. Black communities and their allies were emboldened as they chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe.” They’d had enough of the ongoing violence and the senseless loss of life at the hands of a justice system meant to serve and protect.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic presented issues many outside of the Black community had never encountered: job and food insecurity and inadequate access to healthcare. Yet, to the Black community, this was and continues to be, an everyday reality.
“The disproportionate effect of this pandemic on racialized communities, particularly the Black community, cannot be ignored,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “We must not stop fighting for justice, until racial equity generates the same kind of urgent response that COVID-19 received at the start of the pandemic.”
OPSEU/SEFPO’s Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) will hold this year’s Black History month event “Today’s event, tomorrow’s history” virtually on Saturday, February 20 from 2-5pm.
“While this year’s gathering will look different, our commitment to remember and celebrate Black History Month will no doubt be stronger than ever as we build on our work to dismantle anti-Black racism in workplaces across Ontario,” said Peter Thompson, Chair of CoRW. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is still far from our realities. We may have reached the base of the mountain, but the climb is still a long way ahead.”
The Black History Month event will be open to all OPSEU/SEFPO members across the province. Additional details will be made available soon.