London

A year after 10K marched through London chanting 'Black Lives Matter,' what has changed?

One year after five young London women organized one of the largest protests ever held in London, what has changed? We asked several Londoners who were at the June, 2020 rally and march, organized in the wake of the murder of American George Floyd by police, to reflect on the last year. 

On June 6, 2020, 10,000 people marched through London, Ont., streets demanding justice

10,000 people walked through the streets of London, Ont., calling for an end to racism and police brutality on June 6, 2020. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

One year after five young London women organized one of the largest protests ever held in London, what has changed? 

We asked several Londoners who were at the June, 2020 rally and march, organized in the wake of the murder of American George Floyd by police, to reflect on the last year. 

Gaida Hamdun, BLM London organizer

Gaida Hamdun is one of five young women who organized 2020's Black Lives Matter protest in London, Ont., which drew 10,000 people. (Supplied by Gaida Hamdun)

We built a community for BIPOC people. Before this, I just didn't really know how to make my voice heard or how to make changes. Having such a big platform, I think it's a lot easier to bring things to light, the things that we need to change here in London and in the community as a whole. I now know that I can make a change if I try to make a change. 

I think since last year, after George Floyd's death, people became more aware of the injustices in the Black community. Before, it was a handful of people, but since last year, there's been momentum. People have been posting about it, they've called out racism when they see it and acknowledge it when they see it. The job isn't done but educating people is the first step. 

Charyda Tshikangu, student

Charyda Tshikangu attended the Black Lives Matter protest last year. (Supplied by Charyda Tshikangu)

There's still a lot of education required, from younger individuals to older people, on issues of people of colour and the Black community. The march was a good start, but it's still a work in progress, and it can't be just one day. 

There's a stronger sense of allyship this past year. A lot of people are more comfortable speaking on issues. People are more outspoken and less fearful of calling people out. Before, you'd have people who weren't public about it, but people are more outspoken than they have been before. 

Gal Harper, BLM organizer

Gal Harper is one of the London, Ont., Black Lives Matter activists. (Supplied by Gal Harper)

Ultimately, not enough has changed.  It's hard to not to come off as impatient but it's been a long enough wait. It shouldn't have taken a death to be caught on camera and broadcast for the world to see to get people moving. 

As far as the reforms locally, there's been some positive changes, or at least talk of positive changes that seem to be accepted by the public in general, but any of the major reforms, or the substantial ideas that come across the table, they get pushed to the side, and that's where my frustration lies. 

More people are bringing up racism. More people will ask me a question about racism. They'll try to find a way to segue into a conversation about racism. I didn't realize how little the people who grew up with me knew about my experiences. There's definitely more awareness and more interest to discuss it, but just talking about it doesn't mean they've changed their attitude. 

I'm always hopeful. I'm a hopeful guy. I think things will change and can change. 

Alexandra Kane, BLM spokesperson

(Submitted by Alexandra Kane)

It's changed conversations and how conversations go in terms of applying an equity lens in terms of building policy. It opened up people's minds to the way that things were and it has shifted and adjusted things for the better. There's a long way to go, it's unreal. But it at least has opened the conversation up. 

I wish everything was different and that everyone had heard the rallying call. The hardest part is being so vocal, have so much strength come from the community, and then be met with a hard break when it comes to working with the city or school boards. The policies get in the way of everything, but we make those policies, so why can't they just move out of the way? What I'm most proud of is the trust that community members have put into BLM and in the work. There's so many people who say 'I've wanted to say this, but I haven't had the courage or the backing or support,' and we're able to be a catalyst for their voice, and that's what ultimately is my driving force. 

Jordan Lindo, Community activist

Jordan Lindo (Submitted by Jordan Lindo)

I've kept on educating. We've never seen so many people gather from all backgrounds, to support one cause. It's been a year, what really did happen from that? I would say, nothing on a grand scale in the city, but I know that individually people are working differently after seeing what London as a whole can do. People are more aware, I'm not sure if they're receptive. 

It's an individual thing. We, ourselves, really need to be educating. It's not the only cause in the world, there's lots going on, but it's something we need to keep talking about. The only frustration is that I'm only one person. Seeing so many people, and I'm just me. A year later, a percentage of those people, for them it was just a parade. I wish I can do so much, but I can only do so much as one person. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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