Message from COCA Chair Romeo Milano
 
For Canadians who have likely never experienced systemic racism, it is easy to deny its existence. 
Systemic racism is a ripple effect from years of racist and discriminatory practices, and as individuals, it is normal to feel helpless and discouraged. But being more aware of it should make us work harder to promote social accountability. Initiating change starts with you.
 
I came across an article on the University of British Columbia’s website entitled “Systemic Racism: What It Looks Like in Canada and How to Fight It” (March 19, 2021). It talks about how we can help initiate change by taking into account three basic principles: Reflection; Education; and Speaking Up.
 
Reflection: The first step is that we must accept that racism lives within our society. This may make us feel uncomfortable and challenges our notion of race and culture, but it will allow us to see racism in new ways.
 
Education: To move forward, it is important to confront our past with racism as a society. Knowing our past history with racism provides us with the necessary tools to fight against injustice. The COCA Anti-Racism Tool Kit is an important step towards this end.
 
Speaking Up: Don’t be afraid to speak up! Challenge yourself by bringing up conversations in your workplace. It is not easy to talk about racism but you should not shy away from it. I encourage you to read the UBC article on the Four Steps to Navigating Difficult Conversations About Racism (March 15, 2021).
 

We can play an active role in working against oppression and towards equality. We must find ways to focus on marginalized groups. Education is key to effectively defeat systemic racism. If you haven’t already done so – create a corporate Anti-racism Statement and discuss it at your next company meeting. Print up the COCA Anti-Racism Tool Kit and pin it up on your company’s bulletin board. Post the COCA  Anti-racism Posters.  Promote conversation and engagement amongst your staff and co-workers. Let’s make things right.

 
Romeo Milano