Recommendations to support anti-Black racism organizations.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham jail is as profound today as in 1963 and well worth reading in full. You have the time. As a white moderate, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter guides my recommendations to you. I ask myself how I can best change, learn, and support Black civil rights.
In matters of ‘law and order’, law trumps order. Justice is the foundation of peace, and peace without justice is false. Let us rise from our ‘shallow understanding’ to learn deeply. Now, not later.
While media may focus on American protests, there is extensive anti-Black racism and police brutality in Canada. This is intolerable. I favour giving to Canadian civil rights groups.
In response to your requests on how to give to support anti-Black racism, here is my model of thinking, how I sort through your suggestions. I structure needs in a hierarchy. There are so many worthy causes yet our financial resources are finite. We must give intelligently. Dollars given to a nice organization entails fewer dollars to a high impact organization. Being nice has opportunity costs we can ill afford.
In this hierarchy of needs, saving lives or averting deaths is tops. As I see it the urgent need is security – security of life, security to live without fear of state brutality and harassment. In our democracy, no Canadian should fear violence from police. We do not need new laws. We need our constitutional rights upheld for all.
I recommend focusing support on Black civil rights, legal support, and social justice organizations. Police brutality must stop. No person or organization is above the law. This unaccountability must be brought before the courts. To me, civil rights are more urgent than youth opportunities.
Hierarchy of needs
Ways to support social justice in Canada
These are not registered charities. You support because you believe in their work, not for a tax deduction.
Black Lives Matter has chapters in Toronto and Vancouver: Black Lives Matter Toronto and Black Lives Matter Vancouver. These are radical activists at the forefront of anti-Black racism. Black Lives Matter has successfully raised international awareness and is a key driver in advocating change. Black Lives Matter also offers tangible support. In one example, when a Black business was raided by police, Black Lives Matter Toronto gave money for the smashed windows and missing cash.
Also in Ontario, Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) founded in 2017 is a non-profit legal clinic providing free legal services to Blacks. It carries on the work of the African-Canadian Legal Clinic that closed. BLAC is funded through Legal Aid Ontario. With a team of three full-time lawyers, BLAC is led by Ruth Goba, formerly with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. BLAC’s annual budget is $850,000. Its focus is fighting racial profiling by police and educational inequality where Black children are disproportionately disciplined and expelled from Toronto schools.[i]
Beyond financial support, look also at how you can support anti-Black racism in your community. Policing is a municipal responsibility. Create solidarity with your Black community in the fight for social justice. I review local news articles, specifically looking for mention of civil justice organizations that are commended.
Community activist El Jones says, “I am suspicious of government plans for change.” Political change comes from grassroot efforts – “from the bottom up” – and involves shaming public institutions into action.[ii] I concur. I too am skeptical of commissions and panels, conferences and recommendations. I see the most effective change coming from local, community-led initiatives supported by many.
Registered charities you have asked that we look at:
Black Health Alliance focuses on Black health issues like how racism triggers stress-reduction with greater prevalence of smoking, and how racial inequities are a fundamental cause in worse health. Its focus is on eliminating Black racism in healthcare. Health is a public right. However, right now Black health would fall in my Blue zone – long term, not urgent for now.
Similarly Careers Education Empowerment Centre for Young Black Professionals, a registered charity that addresses the economic and social barriers affecting Black youth. Founded in April 2018, CEE Centre has a $900,000 operating budget supported by foundations and governments and a full-time staff of 9.
Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a crown corporation charity that was established by the Federal Government with a $23 million endowment. It was formed in 1988 with the reconciliation towards Japanese Canadians for their incarceration during World War II. Its work is research and data collection, to be an information resource centre, to facilitate consultation, professional training and to raise public awareness. I believe now the urgent need is to focus on anti-Black racism: "Black lives" rather than "All lives". CRR Foundation reports total operating costs of $1 million with 5 full-time staff. One concern raised by communities is the creation of anti-racism organizations that do not speak for the community but are rather seen as a government public relations exercise.
Canadian Civil Liberties Association is a new charity. As such, no filings or information is yet available. From its website, it looks like its primary area of experience is in LGBTQ rights. Again, focus support on anti-Black racism.
TAIBU Community Health Clinic provides primary health care services to the Black and Indigenous communities in Malvern and Scarborough, Ontario. Its focus is addressing chronic health conditions that disproportionately affect the Black community like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, sickle cell diseases and mental health. TAIBU has annual operating costs of $5.6 million with $5.5 million coming from government funding.
How to research an organization:
In looking into groups and organizations, visit their website. For Black social justice, I look at its staff and board. I want to see it that its leadership is from the Black community.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birmingham Jail letter calls out our “shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill-well.” To rise beyond our ‘shallow understanding’, I recommend reading Canadian Desmond Cole’s book The Skin We’re In. We read the one-off news stories of racist incidents. Cole connects the dots and shows the pattern. His chapters on police anti-Black brutality are harrowing. Anti-Black racism is not predominantly an American issue – it thrives in Canada. With this deeper understanding, let people of goodwill build social justice in Canada.
Please suggest other organizations to review.
[i] Raizel Robin, “How Ruth Goba plans to fight anti-black racism in the province.” The Precedent, December 4, 2018
[ii] Halifax Today “Police need to build trust with Nova Scotia’s Black communities: experts discussed the provincial government’s Count Us In report.” February 4, 2020
Interesting article from a retired Black Halifax police officer.
Legal disclaimer: Sorry, but in this day and age …. The information in this report was prepared by Kate Bahen independently of Charity Intelligence Canada from publicly available information. I have made no endeavours to ensure that this public data is accurate and complete. I accept no liability.
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