Feb. 29 marked the official ending of Black Heritage Month, it was a month filled with activities and events intended to celebrate the past and building the future.
Pascale Diverlus, a black queer activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto led an enticing discussion of the Black Lives Matter Toronto movement, providing a sequential account of the history of the movement and the current issues it tackles.
During the discussion Diverlus highlighted the important role queer and trans black women had to play and emphasized the continuous steps taken within the movement to provide queer-positive educational opportunities for black children in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Diverlus explained that black, trans and queer women have been at the forefront of this movement; they are placing their lives at stake and have to articulate why the movement they are fighting for is important.
It is a difficult balance to strike, but it is one that the movement has been able to achieve through community initiatives that place an emphasis on reclaiming identity and thus agency.
In addition, Black Lives Matter is a movement that integrates ideals of feminism, racism, state power and structural inequality. It also highlights the need for gender conversation.
In that, Blacks Lives Matter negates the idea that only cis-gender lives matter by reiterating that various genders’, identities’ and communities’ lives matter.
Police brutality continues to be an issue that is tackled by the movement, Diverlus highlighted how when discussing police brutality, it is essential to discuss police brutality against black women and how sexual violence feeds into this brutal cycle, as shown by the case against Daniel Holtzclaw.
The brutality of the Holtzclaw case in turn raises questions of the attention given to cases that involve vulnerable lower income class communities.
The movement continues to challenge policies that pose as barriers in combating police brutality with the black community. Carding as a system of policing that disproportionally targets black and indigenous communities has been an example of the movement calling for change.
After a day’s worth discussions and platforms that enabled students to voice issues of importance, the day concluded with an event that allowed students to stand in solidarity with black students across the globe that continue to face austerity on university campuses.