Come join your colleagues on August 11th at 11:30am for the CUPE 3903 Anti-Racism Town Hall. This meeting, chaired by Grievance Officer, Parbattie Ramsarran, will be a space to discuss how racism shapes the experiences of racialized members both in their employment at York and in our union, as well as what steps can be taken to put meaningful anti-racism into practice.
As the conversation around systemic discrimination and the complicity of institutions with racism, most blatantly anti-Black racism, continues, there has been a proliferation of statements of solidarity, condemnation, and allyship. What is missing in many of these statements, including our own, is a commitment to looking inwards and taking meaningful, concrete steps. Some of the most insidious forms of white supremacy can be expressed in “performative allyship,” whereby expressing care and understanding are seen to be sufficient, thereby absolving us from taking further action and responsibility.
Real change takes substantive work and the steps to dismantle deeply entrenched structures of white supremacy are not always clear. Whether we are looking to force changes in the University or within our own Union, these processes begin with listening and learning. To push forward with this long overdue process, we will host a town hall in mid-August as the starting point of a fulsome campaign to address systemic discrimination. While CUPE 3903 already has a number of internal bodies and structures that speak to and address these issues, such as the Employment Equity Committee, the Advisory Committee on Race/Ethnic Relations, Discrimination and/or Harassment, and the Anti-Racism Working Group, much of this effort is directed towards defending our members, to hold our Employer accountable. Alongside this work we must equally focus on addressing systemic racism in our own Local and in the wider labour movement. We welcome substantive discussion on greater equity for Black members, and on how to ensure union spaces do not continue to replicate patterns of systemic racism.
Let us be clear: this town hall is a beginning, not an end. Some possible next steps include establishing a BIPOC caucus, reinvigorating the Anti-Racism Working Group, and how we might distribute funds to better align with anti-racist values. Like everything we do, however, we want our actions to be member-led. CUPE 3903 will release a fuller statement after the town hall with a concrete action plan to detail how we intend to move forward. Not only can we do better, we must do better.