June 3, 2020

Statement from the OPSEU Local 562 – Anti-Black Racism

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

While these words were penned by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, these words still continue to bellow persistently especially during a week of unspeakable and inhumane violence toward Black people. The atrocious and nefarious deaths of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet and the egregious treatment of Christian Cooper last week are a constant reminder that anti-Black racism continues to rear its ugly head here in Canada and the United States, and that we must all speak up and stand together to combat racism to advance justice and equality.

This is not just a North American issue of social and racial injustice, but affects us globally. Today’s technologies enable a brighter light to shine on who we are on both our best and worst days, so we must recognize and acknowledge what is happening. While these acts of hate and violence have a far-reaching impact, there is also a very real, deep and personal impact on our Humber community especially amongst our Black faculty, staff and students. For many, this is the reality of their lived experience and with it comes frustration, anger, pain and trauma, just to name a few. We are committed to supporting and standing with you during these trying times, as many people face the ongoing challenges of the health crisis, financial struggles, and the racial climate we are encountering.

Sadly, the anti-Black incident at the Lakeshore campus last December was a repulsive reminder of the deep hatred that exists in our society at all levels. It has been and continues to be a sobering reminder that anti-Black racism must be addressed, confronted and challenged in the Humber community. As stated on June 1, 2020 in President Christopher Whitaker’s message about anti-Black racism “we reaffirmed our commitment to developing action-based solutions to address the issue of anti-Black racism on campus. Equity is a core value at Humber and our dedicated Taskforce continues to work to ensure our campuses are places where all are welcome, feel they belong, and can be successful and safe. This includes plans for revising hiring practices, providing robust educational sessions about anti-Black racism, and the establishment of an African/Black Employee Resource Group.” As your local union, we support the President’s action-based solutions and look forward to this collaborative effort with the executive team to implement and accomplish these goals.

We can be the difference we want to see, as it starts with each of us. As a local, we firmly stand in solidarity alongside our Black sisters and brothers, that such acts of hate and injustice will not be tolerated. We will continue to engage one another on matters of race, equity and inclusion. Anti-Black racism work is intentional and purposeful, and will abundantly thrive with the collective effort and action of all, including allies and supporters of the Black members of our Humber community, as injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

In solidarity,

The Local Executive Committee of OPSEU Local 562