June Roundup

Read time: 3 minutes

In June 2017, I made my annual trip to Toronto to attend the Pride Parade with my friend. We jockeyed for a good spot to watch the floats. After a while, the parade completely stopped. We learned on Twitter that a group called Black Lives Matter Toronto was staging a sit-in. As we sat in the hot sun, I said to my friend, “I’m tired of waiting for this parade.” And she said, “If you’re tired after half an hour, think about how Black people feel.”

Of course, I had no idea how Black people felt. My friend’s comment made me realize that I wasn’t making space in my life to hear the stories, perspectives, and history of the Black community. I had and continue to experience racism and fetishism as a visible minority, but I am a light-skinned cis/het woman who has privileges that others do not, and I have no idea what it is to walk the world as a Black person.

I began to follow some Black influencers and activists on social media and consciously sought out media and content that wasn’t from straight white men. But I freely admit that I could and should have done more to educate myself.

You may have seen on my social media accounts that my partner and I made some recent donations to support organizations like the Nia Centre, the Black Business and Professional Network, and Across Boundaries. But that is not enough. I also commit to amplifying the voices of others through my work as a storyteller, especially underrepresented voices. I will create content that does not promote harmful stereotypes or systemic racism, even if I have to challenge a client’s wishes. In my personal life, I will support more local Black-owned businesses and encourage the people around me to become more informed.

For the June Roundup, here are some of the things I have been reading and listening to:

Brother by David Chariandy

This novel tells the story of two young brothers growing up in Scarborough, Ontario in the 90’s, facing prejudice and injustice every day. Their hopes and dreams are cut short when a particular gun shooting changes their lives forever.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

I am about a third of the way through this book, which compares the modern American justice system to the Jim Crow laws which designated Black people as second class citizens.

What a Day Podcast (Crooked Media)

This daily American podcast, hosted by comedian Akilah Hughes and reporter Gideon Resnick, takes a look at each weekday’s news in a way that is both entertaining, informative, and motivating. They often approach news stories from a diversity-focused lens.

Colour Code Podcast (Globe and Mail)

I have just downloaded all eleven episodes of this podcast which examines race in Canada. I am looking forward to listening to it.

I am always open to recommendations to diversify my views. Please reach out to me if you have suggestions at hello@valeriechong.ca.