The Black Lives Matter demonstration in Kamloops on June 4 was well-attended considering that it was officially cancelled just before it was about to start.
The organizers were apologetic about organizing it in the first place. In their notice of cancelation, they said on Instagram:
“We want BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) to lead these protests. The original idea was to create a space for people to express their feelings of injustice and for us to be able to be there to protect the BIPOC in this space. The goal of this protest was to open conversation and change for local and international individuals. The goal of our organizers and all non-BIPOC is to create a safe space for them. We do not want to speak over them, we want to amplify them.”
Since they refer to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour as “them,” I can only assume they are white and that was a factor in the cancelation.
Being white, I guess they felt uncomfortable about organizing a demonstration for an oppressed people that they were not a part of. Or perhaps it seemed patronizing –as if Black, Indigenous and People of Colour couldn’t do it themselves.
Maybe they felt they were appropriating the culture Black, Indigenous and People of Colour by assuming to speak for them.
It’s paralysis due to political correctness.
I would have liked to ask the organizers these questions and why they felt intimidated but they have pulled down their Instagram account and I had no way of contacting them.
Allegations of cultural appropriation and insensitivity are rampant. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the Ottawa BLM demonstration, calls of “blackface” could be heard directed at him; in reference to his now-shameful 2001 yearbook photo of him dressed as Aladdin in blackface and in a turban at an Arabian Nights-themed gala. Dressing up in costumes that represent other cultures is now seen as cultural appropriation.
Is it cultural approbation to show up at a demonstration in support of Black and Indigenous people? Can white Canadians not “feel their pain?”
Cultural appropriation was on the mind of Kamloops resident Sarah* who attended the demonstration. “I try to be very mindful of cultural appropriation as well,” she told me by email.
Her Facebook photo shows her smiling in front of three RCMP of colour at the demonstration. She was hesitant about asking permission for the photo but: “They were good sports and took no issue.”
The colour of a people organizing a demonstration should not be a factor.
We are long past the biases developed by Europeans when they first encountered various colours of people around the globe and thought they were a different species.
As I have argued in this column, we are all Homo sapiens, the last remaining species of humans. There is no “them” and “us.”
Says Sarah of her photo with the police:
“I hope you took note of the ‘We are All African’ T-shirt I was wearing…as in we can all be traced back to a common humanoid ancestor in the rift valley…this is why Racism makes zero sense! Love that message, that t-shirt!”
*name changed on request.