Greetings Unifor family,
Every day, we are reminded why our efforts to fight for racial justice are so very important, and why we must remain vigilant.
As you are aware, there have been many conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement since its founding in 2012. Its slogan has seeped deeply into our culture and conversation. Despite our familiarity with the saying, “Black Lives Matter,” as workers we must not co-opt the phrase for our own causes.
We should all be aware of the impacts of our words, and the importance of the rallying cry: Black Lives Matter.
“Black Lives Matter” came to prominence after the murder of Trayvon Martin in the United States. It was not intended to take away from the fact that many Black, Indigenous and racialized communities have been demanding that their lives matter for hundreds of years.
Let me be clear – when people say that Black Lives Matter, they are not saying that other lives do not matter. It simply refers to the fact that inequalities in our society, such as employment opportunities, housing, education, health, and violence at the hands of the police, have a greater and negatively disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.
When the slogan is appropriated for other causes (by adding words or deleting the word “Black”) it takes away from the importance of the movement and erases the experiences and the critical message Black people are striving to convey.
Even if not intended, it makes a comparison that campaigns, job actions, and working conditions are somehow equal to the countless lives taken due to racism. Both are unfair and wrong, but are completely different.
We must support anti-oppression organizations and listen to impacted communities voicing concerns, solutions and next steps. In order to achieve equality and to ensure all lives really do have equal value in our communities, we must demand that Black, Indigenous and racialized lives are supported, valued and appreciated. Only then will we come together to take on the capitalist system that actually creates and reproduces all forms of inequality that we as a union must fight back against.
There is power in words.
As workers fighting for economic and social justice and equality we can find our own words to describe these battles, while we continue to proudly say that Black Lives Matter.