For many of us our privileged status could disappear tomorrow; for some such status may never come about. Black Lives Matter and Idle No More raised the later reality into current political debates. It is important, though, for many who think that the issues raised by Black Lives Matter recently and Idle No More a little while ago will never affect them to think again. There is both an idealistic and a selfish reason to work for a truly just and egalitarian society for all. A little bit of reactionary social change and suddenly privilege can disappear. Real solidarity now, radical transformation now, is in the interest of most of us.
During my activist years I learned about a number of very obscure laws, such as Unlawful Handbill Distribution, or that criminal charges and harsh bail conditions can be imposed for such crimes as drawing peace symbols on the pavement of Nathan Philips Square. I was a pretty obnoxious activist and drew police attention as a result. The right skin colour, a real address, a union card in my pocket, etc. did not stop me from learning that police power is all too often arbitrarily exercised and that privilege is not permanent. Stepping back into safety is something available to people like me, but that safety is precarious. I don’t take it for granted.
A lot of the criticism I come across in regards to the tactics and timing of Black Lives Matter and similar groups comes from people who seem to forget what it is like to not have a voice or to be always on the outside or always having to hide something about yourself in order to fit in or to be safe. While there is a rush in the movement of confrontation, if there was an easier, faster and better way to transform the world those methods would be chosen. The social vision that Black Lives Matter raises is key for a better world for all.
The demands raised at this year’s Pride were practical, material and achievable. They move us to a place where more of us are included and, eventually, one where everyone is welcome. I may feel shielded by my social status today, but that could change all too quickly. By challenging privilege, and hopefully pushing aside privilege, they will help create a better world for me. Black Lives Matter doesn’t speak for me; I don’t speak for them. But I support what they want to achieve and the tactics they’ve chosen. My future depends on it.