Today’s episode is dedicated to the personal experiences of two good friends of NSRLP who speak to what it meant for them to grow up as Black people in predominantly white communities in Canada. Moya McAlister is NSRLP’s Communication Manager, and she grew up between Toronto (for the most part) and Trinidad, where she spent vacations with family. Moya describes how this brought special challenges for her, and the ways that she has tried to manage these first as a child, and now as an adult community activist and professional. Anthony Morgan also talks about his experiences as a young person, and now as an adult raising a young child, and the impact that centuries of Black slavery in Canada still has on Canadian culture. Anthony currently heads the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit for the City of Toronto, but he has had a long history as a racial justice educator, commentator on racism and race issues, and as a lawyer on anti-Black racism issues, including a spell at the African Canadian Legal Clinic (now the Black Legal Action Centre, see below).
What Can You Do?
We turned to three other guests to give us some ideas on things you can do to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hussein Aly is a widely-respected criminal defence lawyer in Toronto with Rusonik and Partners, and he is offering free online seminars (hosted by the Black Muslim Initiative and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association) on how to interact with police at peaceful protests. Tune in to the link above for further dates.
Anna Sallah is a research assistant with the NSRLP and a masters student at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor. Anna has studied and worked in Ghana and in South Africa, and her family live in Minneapolis. She has suggestions for using social media to create awareness, show support for Black friends and colleagues, and ask for action. Anna also describes why it is important to support local Black businesses.
Hope Moon grew up in a small white Ontario community where she came as a baby from China. She is now a student at the University of King’s College Halifax, where she is the VP External of the Students’ Union. Hope describes her project to set up a Facebook group to facilitate more open and honest talking among her friends and peers about anti-Black racism. She points out that while this may create some (necessary?) discomfort, it is important we don’t get stuck in a place of shame and ignorance, but go on learning together.
Places to donate
Black Legal Action Centre – a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario.
The Sentencing and Parole Project – a non-profit that prepares enhanced pre-sentence reports for marginalized Black people to give judges and parole boards info they need to make informed decisions around sentencing and parole.
See here for a list of many more organizations working to combat racism and support Black and Indigenous Canadians.
More information and resources
Moya’s August 2019 article in SLAW “What it really means for lawyers to commit – and to refuse to commit – to equality, diversity, and inclusivity”
Anthony and other contributors in June 2020 Toronto Star piece “‘Racism exists in Canada:’ These are the stories from people who have lived it as eyes turn on U.S. after George Floyd death in Minneapolis”
Anthony’s October 2019 TEDx Talk “How Tupac inspires better policing”
Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit
In Other News
Guest news correspondent Jordan Furlong considers the fairness and unintended consequences of “Zoom justice”; systemic racism in the justice system, baked in at many levels; how the law harms public health; and how the legal system can be redesigned to work for everyone, and the groundswell of support for that redesign. Thank you so much Jordan for your wonderful contributions to the podcast – we can’t wait to have you back again!
“How Fair Is Zoom Justice?” (The Markup)
“‘Unauthorized Practice of Law’ Rules Promote Racial Injustice” (Law360)
“How the Law Harms Public Health” (Democracy Journal)
“Redesign the Legal System for More Than Just Lawyers” (Bloomberg Law)
Jumping Off the Ivory Tower is produced and hosted by Julie Macfarlane and Dayna Cornwall; production and editing by Brauntë Petric; Other News produced and hosted by Jordan Furlong; promotion by Moya McAlister and the NSRLP team.