Calling on the support of our leaders at the rally

An open letter to Manitoba’s politicians

lt is imperative that provincial leaders attend Friday’s #Justice4BlackLives rally. While pandemic-related concerns are an obstacle, they should not be an excuse for total absence.

Safety is obviously paramount during this pandemic, so by all means, stay safe. There is no cause for self-exposure, particularly in the existence of other underlying health concerns and advanced age. Winnipeggers respect that and want you to be safe and healthy. 

In the same way the #Justice4BlackLives rally scheduled for Friday is intended to safely demonstrate our support and compassion for Black communities in our city, our country, the United States and across the globe. It is our duty as a society to stand up now and boldly show that what happened to George Floyd is appalling and completely unacceptable. No human being should have to plead and beg those who are supposed to protect them for room to breathe. No human being should die in the hands of police officers. 

It would do well to remember the voters who stand up and help appoint the leaders also include Black voters. These voters place their confidence and trust in the province’s leaders for times such as these. Every Black person’s heart is broken, and yet another layer of fear has sneaked under their skin. It was George Floyd on May 25. It could be me or someone I love tomorrow. 

The event organizers have sent out an open invitation to join the rally on Friday. Surely if medical conditions hinder the attendance of some political leaders, perhaps the impacted leaders could send out representatives on their behalf. 

While police brutality in the US currently seems much more heightened than in Canada, sitting back and arguing it doesn’t happen here is not helping anyone. There have been many cases of police brutality and racism. A problem with racism already exists in our city, and it must be addressed proactively now. 

Premier Brian Pallister invoked the slogan that “all lives matter” with regards to therally. Obviously, all lives matter, but that is not the rhetoric that focuses on the issue. In fact, it detracts from it. It waters down the anger, fear and pain that pangs in the hearts of many Winnipeggers. A conscious, deliberate choice is being made to buckle down and focus on the community that is most affected. #BlackLivesMatter

Valerie Nyamori is a Kenyan-Canadian writer. She loves Winnipeg but struggles with the winter. She gets through the season by reading any books she gets her hands on and drinking too much tea.

Published in Volume 74, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 1, 2020)

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