5 Ways to RESIST for Greater Self Empowerment and Agency

by Dr. Denise O'Neil Green | August 4, 2020 10:00 AM

5 Ways to RESIST for Greater Self Empowerment and Agency feature imageIt has been over two months since the murder and death of George Floyd, May 25, with the backdrop of a global pandemic and economic shutdown. And the destructive forces and realities of anti-Black racism are just as strong as ever.

For Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color, these forces and the endless fight against them are certainly nothing new. Some have been leading the fight against racism for decades. What is new, however, is the widespread sharing of images, video, and audio content illustrating how little Black lives are valued, if at all. In spite of this, we continue to RESIST and be RESILIENT in the face of white supremacy and anti-Black racism.

Ironically, even in conversations about anti-Black racism, mainstream messages have the tendency to center non-Black people. In today’s video post, my aim is to center us, Black people…African Americans and African Canadians. I offer my Top 5 Ways To Resist To Gain Greater Self Empowerment and Agency. (NOTE: The original sharing of my list was broadcast on June 19, 2020 in the “Resistance, Resilience and Support for Ryerson’s Black Community” Ryerson University Alumni Webinar.)

Additionally, I have a list of Five (5) Recommendations To Increase Racial Literacy (a more extensive list was published June 12, 2020, authored by Antoinette Mercurio for Ryerson Today):

  1. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: Professor Ibram X. Kendi offers a compelling argument for why there is no neutral ground between being a racist and an anti-racist. He lays out a hopeful future in which all people can be actively contributing to and building anti-racist societies. I read the audiobook and it was difficult for me to put it down. Even for someone who has done this work for years, Kendi reminds and reignites why this work is so important for those of us who are exhausted.
  2. Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present: Robyn Maynard provides a powerful and comprehensive study of the destructive force of anti-Black racism that began centuries ago and persists today in Canada. Countering the myth that racism doesn’t exists in Canada, she provides an important history lesson, starting with slavery and moving to modern prisons, classrooms and city streets to uncover the issue. Her book is for anyone wanting to learn more about what it means to be Black in Canada.
  3. “White Privilege vs. White Supremacy” with Desmond Cole at Ryerson’s White Privilege Conference (starts at 47:45): Desmond Cole unpacks the difference between white privilege and white supremacy. He is a meticulous journalist who is rooted in a distinctly Toronto-centric framework. He does not let us off the hook and his perspective is important for anyone looking to become more civically engaged and increase their racial literacy. His new book “The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power” further speaks to policing of Black Canadians in Toronto during the year 2017. I read the audiobook and as with his keynote, Cole’s book is relentless in exposing the systems of whiteness and white supremacy and the power that must be exercised to counter such systems in policing.
  4. Seeing the Racial Water: A Conversation with Robin DiAngelo: Robin DiAngelo joined me for a conversation to talk about her work on “White Fragility” which has influenced the international dialogue on race. DiAngelo explains how race shapes the lives of white people, what makes racism so hard for white people to acknowledge, and common white racial patterns that prevent us from moving towards greater racial equity. She provides a foundation for white people to develop white racial literacy.
  5. Call it out: Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Rights: This 30-minute, interactive course from the Ontario Human Rights Commission is an excellent foundation for anyone who wants to learn more about race, racial discrimination, and the human rights protections under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. It provides historical context and guides people through how to prevent and address racial discrimination.


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