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We must put an end to the legacy of slavery

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On March 25, the world commemorates the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  The United Nations General Assembly designated this day to create awareness and acknowledge the suffering, trauma, and oppression inflicted on more than 400 million Black men, women, and children of African descent.

“We have inherited the legacy and history of racism of generations who came before us and it is our responsibility to dismantle and eradicate anti-Black racism and all forms of racial discrimination,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

This day forces us to reflect and understand the lasting effects of centuries of slavery and transatlantic slave trade both in Canada and the United States. Canada participated in the legal enslavement of Africans. The after effects of slavery are still evident today — we don’t have to look any further than the discovery of nooses at a Toronto construction site last fall, an unforgiveable act of hatred.

“Regrettably, Black people continue to be disproportionately under-represented and disadvantaged in economic, political, and social gains in our society,” added Thomas. “The over-policing of Black neighborhoods, racial profiling of Black men, and the countless number of unnecessary deaths of Black people in Canada and the U.S. are proof of the lingering prejudice, stereotyping, and racial discrimination of Black people.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has glaringly exposed the economic, social, and health inequalities suffered by Black people and communities.  They are more likely to live in poverty, to hold low paying precarious jobs, and to suffer poor mental health.

OPSEU/SEFPO’s First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida understands the historical implications and ongoing effects of the legacy of slavery in Canada.

“As an organization, we are committed to justice and equity for all.  We continue to rethink and refine our practices and beliefs. We encourage everyone to speak up when you see or experience discriminatory behavior, and to educate everyone on the historical and current effects of slavery and racism in our union, workplaces and communities” he said.

OPSEU/SEFPO continues to engage with its membership and work to dismantle anti-Black racism once and for all is at the forefront of its agenda.

“It is painful to see the continued dehumanization of Black people. Unless we do something about it, future generations will continue to feel what our ancestors felt when they were brought over the transatlantic as chattel,” said Peter Thompson, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW).

“As OPSEU/SEFPO members, we cannot turn a blind eye in the face of racism and racial discrimination.  Let us learn from historical events and recognize that Black Lives Matter,” he added.

For more information on the work OPSEU/SEFPO is doing to dismantle anti-Black racism visit:

https://opseu.org/anti-racism/

https://opseu.org/equity-unit/

https://opseu.org/committees/the-coalition-of-racialized-workers/

https://opseu.org/social-mapping-project/