View this email in your browser

You Can Miss Us With The Crumbs – Give Us Reparations!

Guest contributor Denise Hampden writes for Our Times on justice, reparations and the Canadian labour movement

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said these words in 1985. He was speaking about the brutal system of apartheid that people in his beloved South Africa lived under for more than half a century, but his words strikingly sum up the past several years in the lives of IBPOC workers throughout the western world.

“We won’t stop till we get our reparations!” Journalist and anthropologist Emilie Nicolas along with poet and educator El Jones rallied us with this reminder during a webinar held by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU Canada) to open Black History Month this year.

Indigenous, Black and racialized workers’ demands for racial justice did not begin with the eight minutes and 46 seconds in which George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, or with the cries of “I can’t breathe,” shouted by so many Black men and women, or with the desperate act of Joyce Echaquan — filming her torturers minutes before her death, in the hope that someone might finally believe her. Their loud demands span the centuries: Get your knees off our necks!

Unions must get serious about building anti-racist organizations. This is an act of reconciliation and a form of reparations. They must learn what it means to decolonize their organizations. They must root out white supremacy in their organizations. And if doing all that means rebuilding their organizations, then so be it.

When Indigenous union members see measly attempts by their unions to mollify them by reciting a 30-word “land acknowledgement” at the beginning of a meeting, without the union having any real plan to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, they know their union is not serious about racial justice.

When Black workers look at the leadership of their union and see themselves vastly under-represented or relegated to the “equity portfolios,” they know their union is not serious about racial justice.

Unions must get serious about racial justice and racial reconciliation. IBPOC workers have a right to expect more than crumbs from the table of the white union leadership. They have a right to be at the table — at the bargaining table, the representation table, as the financial secretary, as the staff rep, as the president. They have earned that right.

IBPOC workers have a right to swift, decisive and unambiguous action when facing racist, bigoted aggression in the workplace or within the union. They have earned that right.

Unions have a unique opportunity. They have a captive audience in their memberships. Until the principles of anti-racism are taught with the same vigour and enthusiasm and dedication to honesty as health and safety now is, IBPOC workers will never be healthy or safe in their workplaces or their unions.

Unless you are actively working towards building an anti-racist union and actively working to decolonize your union, your union has no right to use the hashtag, post the black square, tell us how grateful you are to live and work on someone else’s land, or say the words “Black Lives Matter.” You haven’t earned that right.

Indigenous workers, Black workers and racialized workers are not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers themselves our master. We want the full menu of human rights. We deserve the full menu of human rights. And we won’t stop until we get our reparations.

Denise Hampden is a longtime member of Unifor and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). She has spent her entire working life as a labour educator and activist advocating for workers, fighting for justice, reconciliation and reparations.
Our Times’  Winter issue heading to press soon!
Dear Our Times Readers,

So you know, our Winter issue is in design and heading to press soon! We’re featuring, among other great stories, the BC Labour Heritage Centre’s COVID Chronicles project, which highlights frontline workers’ experiences during the pandemic. You’ll also hear from Alberta healthcare workers, and more! Please be sure to renew your subscription, or consider subscribing, if you haven’t as yet. It’s going to be a great issue. But then, they all are, right?
Before I sign off, all of us at Our Times would like to thank Denise Hampden for being the very first guest contributor to our e-newsletter. May justice roll like a mighty river.
In Solidarity,

Haseena Manek
for Our Times

Here for All Seasons: A Coalition to Confront Environmental Racism

Along with being disproportionately affected by climate change, Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities in Canada are more impacted by toxic waste and pollution. Keep reading…

COVID Chronicles: Working with Courage and Care

“I love being a first responder and saving lives,” says mental health worker Brionne Kennedy, who works in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. A sneak peek at Our Times’ Winter issue. Keep reading…

A Tragedy That Didn’t Need to Happen

The second wave of the pandemic has brought even more suffering than the first wave did — to residents, workers and families. Keep reading…

Our Times

407-15 Gervais Drive, Toronto
ON M3C1Y8 Canada
You received this email because you signed up for our e-newsletter.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Our Times · 15 Gervais Drive · Toronto, On M3C 1Y8 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp