Opinion: ACB Netowrk June 17 2020
In a disappointing pre-emptive move, Region of Waterloo council voted unanimously Tuesday to confirm their commitment to continuing business as usual, by producing more statements about the inequities faced by members of the Black community.
Specific demands from the Black community to reduce socio-economic racial inequality through reallocating police funding to community-led safety, health and well-being initiatives in neighbourhoods was passed over in favour of funding existing social agencies. The central harm reduction-focused request to reduce the police budget and thereby curtail the ability of the police to enact surveillance, violence and harm without repercussions was ignored.
Chair Karen Redman stated for the sixth or seventh time since the June 3 Waterloo Region Black Lives Matter Solidarity protest that there was a need to engage in conversation with the Black community. A meeting has yet to occur. Despite bypassing any meaningful consultation with local African, Caribbean and Black communities, individuals, or organizations involved in the protest since that date, she confidently went on to detail a plan on behalf of the local Black community including:
Intentions to also fund social agencies serving Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, an act allowing nonprofits led by white executives, management and staff to perpetuate their patterns of dominating resources that could exclusively go toward Black and Indigenous-led and staffed programs serving Black and Indigenous communities;
A commitment to continue the 30-year-long underfunding of existing public health, community and social services.
Following these statements, regional council requested updates on existing bureaucratic equity, diversity, and inclusion processes and declared intentions to strike a new anti-racism secretariat. Equity is neither a stand-in nor interchangeable with anti-racism. As evidenced by the incidence of police brutality and overrepresentation in the prison system, anti-Black racism differs from other forms of racism, and thus requires specific attention. The mere existence of diversity and inclusion initiatives is often presented to equity-seeking groups as evidence of systemic change, while harm in the form of impoverishment, over-policing and premature deaths continues unabated.
Lastly, council asked the Waterloo Regional Police Service to produce a report on their anti-racism efforts. This request comes at a time when an analysis of 492 implicit bias interventions with police has determined that they are ineffective at producing change or saving lives.
With their actions, Region of Waterloo council has clearly demonstrated how deeply anti-Black racism is entrenched within their bureaucracy and related institutions. The regional chair and council have ignored the expertise within, and recommendations from, Black communities and allies.
Instead, council has chosen to proceed without consultation to impose actions which serve to uphold and reinforce unequal structures and unbalanced relationships of power. This course of action is taking place in response to clearly articulated requests for change received from a large diverse cross-section of the Waterloo Region community, via a robust email campaign.
The local police, who disproportionately card, surveil and intervene in neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of Black, Indigenous, racialized and poor white populations, have been given both the budget and the licence to continue operating with impunity in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Our request was twofold: Stop killing us. Give us the resources to build a better future. It is an insult and disgrace for you to claim that Black Lives Matter when you create motions that fail to respond to our demands and categorically fund our demise.