What do you folks do?
Organize events in solidarity with Black communities across the world, support Black communities here in BC, raise money for our own work supporting marginalized communities, centre Black voices, lift up Black queer and trans folks, post on the internet a lot and laugh at racist trolls.
How can I get involved?
If you’re someone who identifies as Black and lives, works, frequently visits or is from BC, and particularly the Lower Mainland (Coast Salish Territories), then please get in touch to join the organizing collective (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are an ally who wants to help out, our involvement opportunities are as follows:
- Donate to our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/blmvan
- Volunteer at events. When we have an event coming up, please check the Facebook event page for ways to get involved. We will post there what we are looking for.
- Educate your peers
- Respond to comments on our social media. We receive a lot of unwarranted hate from internet trolls and it’s often too much emotional labour to respond to them all. Help us out by educating the internet.
- Let us know about services you offer and are willing to donate or provide at a discount. E.g. printing, transport, venues, photography
Who runs Black Lives Matter Vancouver?
A group of really excellent humans. We like doing normal people things like eating tacos, listening to Beyonce and catching Pokemon. High levels of melanin present.
Why are you not participating in the Vancouver Pride Parade?
We literally covered everything here. Honestly, this is a five page document that we put a lot of thought and care into, and we don’t think we could have been any more explicit or thorough. Here is a summary of our reasoning if the statement is TLDR:
“We will not be taking part in the Pride parade, by participation or protest, and have instead chosen to focus our energy elsewhere… We do this not only because we feel that Pride no longer represents community action, resistance and revolution but also as an act of solidarity with BLM chapters across North America to whom Pride parades have been made inaccessible. We wholeheartedly support the actions of other BLM chapters such as BLM Toronto and BLM San Francisco and although we may not face the same immediate threats of police brutality, we refuse to participate in the whitewashing, armament and exclusivity of any Pride Parade unless concrete and explicit commitments to the contrary are made.”
What about police officers who are gay and want to be in the march?
Cool! We’re super happy that the pride parade is a place where they feel safe and celebrated. They should go with their friends and partners and participate as individuals, wearing normal clothes or glittery rainbow spandex shorts like everyone else.
There is no need for the police department to participate as an institution that has historically and continues to act in the ongoing marginalization of certain communities, including the LGBTQ community itself. As referenced in our open letter, the Pride Society draws attention to their Trans Equality Now campaign, however fails to make the connection that the trans community, particularly the trans sex worker community and those who are unhomed, face disproportionate levels of discrimination and harassment from the police. We wonder how the Pride Society can justify glorifying the police in uniforms, along with a militarized vehicle, while simultaneously supporting communities targeted by that same force.
We believe that the removal of the police float, particularly the vehicle that represents violence and war, would be a display of inclusion from the Pride Society towards all marginalized communities, not only Black Lives Matter.
Additionally, the pride parade is supposed to be a celebration of communities and individuals that are oppressed or marginalized, such as the LGBTQ community. The police, as an institution, do not face these kinds of discrimination and are in a position of authority and power, therefore it does not make sense for them to participate.
Why do you hate cops?
“Police officers are humans. Their lives have inherent value. This movement is not an anti-people movement; therefore it is not an anti-police-officer movement. Most police officers are just everyday people who want to do their jobs, make a living for their families, and come home safely at the end of their shift. This does not mean, however, that police are not implicated in a system that criminalizes black people, that demands that they view black people as unsafe and dangerous, that trains them to be more aggressive and less accommodating with black citizens, and that does not stress that we are taxpayers who deserve to be protected and served just like everyone else. Thus the Black Lives Matter movement is not trying to make the world more unsafe for police officers; it hopes to make police officers less of a threat to communities of color. Thus, we reject the idea that asking officers questions about why one is being stopped or arrested, about what one is being charged with, constitutes either disrespect or resistance. We reject the use of military-grade weapons as appropriate policing mechanisms for any American community. We reject the faulty idea that disrespect is a crime, that black people should be nice or civil when they are being hassled or arrested on trumped-up charges. And we question the idea that police officers should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to policing black communities. Increasingly, the presence of police makes black people feel less rather than more safe. And that has everything to do with the antagonistic and power-laden ways in which police interact with citizens more generally and black citizens in particular. Therefore, police officers must rebuild trust with the communities they police. Not the other way around.”
Why are you attacking the VPD for actions in the US?
We have not at any point attacked the Vancouver Police Department. We have merely engaged in respectful and open communication with them. We have not made any demands of them, merely asked them to behave in a way that honours and respects racialized, Black and Indigenous communities as equal citizens of this city that they work for. There’s no beef… honestly, ask them, they like us.
As mentioned in the above, police institutions are often trained to treat marginalized communities in a certain way, which often results in disrespect and harassment. Please see here, here, and here for stories of police violence in Vancouver. Fortunately, that rarely results in (reported) cases of violence in this city so our measures to engage in police accountability are largely precautionary yet still essential.
In Vancouver in particular, police violence is often towards Indigenous communities, sex workers and homeless/street-involved communities. We stand in solidarity with them as their experiences are comparable to those of Black folks in the US, where BLM started as a movement. We hope to continue to work around police accountability and supporting Indigenous communities.
Pivot Legal Society’s statement on police accountability in Vancouver:
“The police occupy a uniquely powerful role in our society. For people who are marginalized as a result of poverty, disability, or ethnicity, that power can be experienced as oppressive. Far too often, police are their first point of contact with the justice system, which is why it’s critical that law enforcement be responsive to the needs of diverse communities. Pivot’s Police Accountability campaign works with these communities with the aim establish a system of transparent and accountable policing that ends the criminalization of poverty and holds law enforcement responsible for the disproportionate use of force.”
But… but… there is no racism in Canada.
Yes, there is.
We’re really shouldn’t have to provide proof for you to believe that as a community of Black and racialized people we face oppression, marginalization and discrimination both in Vancouver and across the country, but we’re kind so here you go:
- Canadian campuses have a racism problem
- Welcome to Winnipeg: Where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst
- Next Time Someone Says ‘Canada’s Not Racist,’ Show Them This Video
- Halifax’s Racist Statue Has Got To Go: Mi’kmaq Elder
- Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s.
- Is Canada too polite to talk about racism?
Why is it problematic to say All Lives Matter or any other variation of ____ Lives Matter?
Black Lives Matter or #blacklivesmatter was created as a statement to reassert the very fact that Black communities are made to feel like they don’t matter. Of course, every single person matters, everyone is important and valuable. But the ways in which society has over and over and over again oppressed Black communities (colonialism, slavery, lynching, segregation, police brutality, racial profiling), is proof that white mainstream society does not value Black lives.
By saying Black Lives Matter, what we want you to hear is, “hello, please remember us, please respect us as much as you respect white bodies, please do not kill our loved ones.” We are not, and have never said, “Black lives matter more than or instead of white lives or any other lives.”
By saying All Lives Matter or replacing “Black” with anything else, you are derailing the conversation and further perpetuating anti-Blackness. The All Lives Matter narrative only arose after the Black Lives Matter movement began, so it is an obvious attempt to continually silence Black people when we attempt to take up the space we deserve.
If you genuinely think all lives matter, support Black people, Black communities, Black businesses as much as you would any other. Only then, will we all matter.
Will you be selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts?
At this point, the t-shirts we are purchasing are just for organizers in the collective. We are having several conversations about who can wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and at this point we are unsure. We want white allies to be able to support us in meaningful ways but also want them recognize that allyship is more complex and ongoing than simply wearing a shirt.
However, we will be selling buttons and magnets at the African Descent Festival and the Vancouver Dyke March.
If you really want one, please consider purchasing from another chapter who is selling or from the official store: https://blckstore.org/