'Moving beyond statement to action': Black History Month in the age of Black Lives Matter
EDMONTON -- Feb. 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month and some say 2021 will be a critical year to push for concrete action to fight discrimination and inequity.
"We are still dealing with issues of racism, profiling and discrimination," professor and University of Calgary Vice Provost Dr. Malinda Smith said on CTV Morning Live Edmonton. "What this month is calling for people to do is actually think about the experience, the practice about what it looks like for a racial justice in our institutions, in our schools, in our curriculum."
And while there is plenty to learn by looking back, there is a lot of present-day developments to acknowledge as well.
Smith described the Black Lives Matter movement as the culmination of years of racism and Black erasure, and credited its organizers with bringing new attention to racial injustice.
"Now we are starting to see people saying, 'OK, let's get to the practice, let's stop the statements, let's stop the policies, let's get concrete action and change,'" she said. "The young people in Black Lives Matter really helped us to get there, to actually think about this moving beyond statement to action."
One local company has created a line of shoes inspired by Black Lives Matter, with the proceeds going back into the community.
"Our team wanted to lend our voice to the cause and so that's how we designed these shoes," Gidi Sole founder Nwachukwu William-Agbakoba said of the new Change Makers Sneakers. "The shoes are an allegory for our tenacity, for our hope and of course, for Black excellence."
The collection will launch later in February and will be available for at least six weeks.
William-Agbakoba said the company is working with two Edmonton-based charities so far: Africa Centre and Black Boys Code.
"We're hoping to work and collaborate with these organizations to bring about a positive change within our community," he said.
He hopes the Change Makers Sneakers will be the first of many collections to help raise money.