Ways to get involved in social justice

Written by: Nicholas Vourakes

Ways that you can become more involved in advocating for social justice.

2020 has been a very difficult year and one that has resulted in many changes to our daily lives. But despite what may be uncertain with a global pandemic or frustrating at the level of injustice that continues to take place, some good and some change is beginning to occur. Minneapolis has announced that they are defunding their police department and many organizations, including Ryerson, are beginning to listen and make changes to how they deal with the issues of anti-Black racism in their workplaces. While these are positive starts, they are only the beginning of what can and must still occur to repair and rebuild our society and to remove the injustices that have plagued it for so long. Below are some of the ways that you can still become involved in social justice and to advocate for a better system that supports the Black community:

  1.       Supporting Community Organizations:

There are hundreds of local and national organizations that have worked tirelessly to ensure that the voices of Black individuals are heard and that the system be changed to remove the systemic barriers that have sought the displacement of their communities. Below are a list of some local organizations that you can help work with here in Toronto:

–          Black Legal Action Centre:

The Black Legal Action Centre provides legal advice to low or no income Black residents in Ontario, helping with different legal issues such as employment, human rights, housing law, police complaints as well as many other legal issues. 

https://www.blacklegalactioncentre.ca/

–          Black Health Alliance:

     The Black Health Alliance is working to improve the lives and health of the Black community in Canada, through partnerships with the community as well as research into health issues that specifically impact the Black community and what must be done to eliminate these issues.

http://blackhealthalliance.ca/

–          Black Lives Matter:

With two chapters in Canada in Toronto and Vancouver, Black Lives Matter has been a leading voice advocating for justice in the Black community and fighting against oppression and police violence:

https://blacklivesmatter.ca/

–          Black Womxn in Motion:

Black Womxn in Action is based here in Toronto and provides support and programming to support and to advance Black womxn living in the City of Toronto. They offer many programs including career support, counselling services, as well as curriculum development and training that seeks to create curriculums and training materials that are culturally relevant and are rooted in the ideas of de-colonization and anti-oppression.

https://blackwomeninmotion.org/

–          CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals:

The CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals is focused on addressing economic and social barriers that affect Black youth between the ages of 14 and 29 and providing resources and support to Black youth who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). CEE works to provide career training for Black youth, working specifically in sectors where there are gaps in the labour market: 

https://ceetoronto.org/

  1.       Supporting Campus Organizations:

There are also many campus organizations dedicated to supporting the Black community that you can support here at Ryerson:

–          United Black Students Association (UBSR):

The UBSR is one of the largest student groups on campus and seeks to represent Black students here at Ryerson by providing a safe space for Black students to meet and share ideas. The UBSR hosts many events throughout the year from pub nights, spoken poetry sessions, speaker series, as well as debates and conferences.

Connect RU Page: https://connectru.ryerson.ca/organization/unitedblackstudents

–          Ryerson Black Liberation Collective:

The Ryerson Black Liberation Collective seeks to make Ryerson a safe space for Black students and advocates for policies that improve the lives of the Black community. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BLCRyerson/

–          Student and Professional Associations Recommended by Ryerson:

Ryerson has also published a page outlining both student and professional organizations that are dedicated to supporting Black students as well as Black professionals in a variety of fields.  

https://www.ryerson.ca/diversity/portal/black/

  1.       Reading about Current Issues:

Toronto is fortunate to not only have the largest library system in North America but also a vast selection featuring works by prominent social activists, leaders and educators. With the library now introducing curbside pickup at a majority of branches, you can easily access thousands of materials and have them delivered to your doorstep. Although the Ryerson Library is closed and books are not accessible, you can still access journal articles and news articles written by scholars, professors and community leaders. Below are a few suggested (but definitely not a complete) list of some works that you can read to learn more about Black and Indigenous social justice:

Toronto Public Library Recommended Reads:

https://account.torontopubliclibrary.ca/shared/blacklivesmatter-a-booklist/7a30VmdcoaVzXnHz5QRMyCEAsh7MfWLIhaF08xO8JLFLNB1xuF

Good Reads:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/social-justice

Mashable:

https://mashable.com/article/new-books-black-authors-you-should-read/

PLEASE NOTE: Not all library branches may be engaged in curbside pickup. To see if your library branch is doing curbside pickup, please see the list below:

List of Library Branches Currently Open for Pickup (Alphabetical):

https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/branches/

  1.       Events on Campus:

Even during a pandemic, there are hundreds of events happening on the Ryerson campus every day discussing issues affecting the Black community as well as other racialized communities. Many of these events are hosted by the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion as well as other organizations on campus. Below are links to current event listings:

Office of Equity and Community Inclusion:

https://www.ryerson.ca/equity/events-workshops/

Ryerson Events:

https://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/events/

  1. Supporting the Black Community Through Film:

In addition to reading about issues affecting the Black community, the world of film also provides a very engaging and immersive platform that allows you to learn about issues facing the Black community and to learn through the characters about the lived experiences that Black individuals have faced both today and throughout history. Below are a list of some of the top films to watch: 

Rotten Tomatoes 110 Important Films about the Black Experience: 

https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/guide/important-films-about-the-black-experience/

IndieWire Best Black American Films of the 21st Century: 

https://www.indiewire.com/2018/06/best-black-movies-ranked-black-panther-1201971237/

Esquire Top 10 Movies about Race: 

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/g32742390/movies-about-race/

DISCLAIMER: This post was written by an individual who does not identify as a member of the Black community. While the contents of this article have been carefully researched and contain resources that can be used to learn and become aware about issues facing the Black community, the resources in this article are by no means exhaustive. The contents in this article have been published as a starting point and as a place to engage in an important dialogue about how to be an ally to the Black community and to allow for individuals who are not Black to support and educate themselves about the Black experience. If there are any resources that may be missing that you would like to see added into this post or future posts, please contact our RLAS team to let us know. 

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