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Photo Credits: Jonathan Bachman/REUTERS

Every generation has faced challenges, moments of change, and progress. The early 1920s brought about the women’s suffrage movement, the 1950s embodied the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the 1970s saw the sprouting of the Peace movement, and so on and so forth. Today, it seems as though the most pressing issues of our time are race, gender equality, and income equality—all of which have ironically resurfaced at a time when Canada sits comfortably at second place on the Social Progress Index, and where to me there is seemingly little qualitative evidence to support the claims of these movements.

One of the most notable movement that formed in response to such issues is Black Lives Matter (BLM). It grew out of great unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after a police encounter resulted in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014. As of right now, the movement has many chapters across the United States, Canada, and has made its debut in the United Kingdom. However, their actions and rhetoric have brought into question whether we can consider this movement a force for social change.

Social change generally occurs in four steps: first, there must be a quantitative and qualitative identification of a problem within a given society. Second, a group is formed to spread awareness about this problem. Third, action is taken within the community to rectify the problem. Fourth, the problem is resolved. What is important to remember is that social change is not instant. It cannot be demanded. It takes years of active protesting and lobbying, and has to be extrapolated, debated, and worked through.

The unfortunate reality of BLM is that instead of working with the system, they ceaselessly demand action and change. The BLM sit-in on the Pride Parade was one of the most appalling forms of blatant agenda setting, bullying, and exclusivity to have recently occurred. It was nothing more than a push for their political agenda, which apparently includes further driving a wedge between the police and community. Mark Jamieson of the Toronto Sun highlights that “BLM responds by saying it wants to be inclusive. What they mean is inclusive for everyone except people they do not like or respect.” BLM’s disdain for the police grows out of their ideology, which perceives police as being inherently racist and a part of some perceived institutional racism.

The ideology of BLM is twofold. On one hand, they are collectivists that are demanding special rights and privileges for their collective. On the other, they are embedded in social justice. Social justice is a perversion of justice because it does not imply justice for individuals or even for everyone, it implies justice for a group. This is why when BLM speaks about reparations for slavery, they indict all white persons regardless of direct involvement. In fact, only five per cent of white people have direct ancestry to slave owners. Thus, the indictment of 95 per cent of white people is unjust. That is not justice. It is far removed from what justice should resemble.

 Instead of trying to view the cases of fatal police brutality as individual scenarios, each with aggravating and mitigating factors, they view them without nuance. By doing so, BLM has neutered themselves from being a real force for change in Canada. If truly the goal of BLM is to create a more inclusive society, assuming Canada of all places isn’t inclusive, then it has to do this through the inclusion of other voices and communities. It cannot silence the voices of the police, persons not of colour, and those that it deems to not respect or like. This behaviour is the opposite of that of a movement that is aiming towards a higher good. It seems that the only greater good BLM focuses on is how to advance their own political agenda.

This is not to say BLM doesn’t have any genuine grievances, because it does. For example, the carding policy used by police officers in Toronto is a big problem. However, demanding that police floats be barred from attending Pride is not change. Demanding that there must be special hiring practices for specifically black people is not change, it is the undermining of the most fundamental values of this country, which are individualism and equality. It isn’t equitable to hire based on race or gender—that is the antithesis of equality, and the very approach to race that Martin Luther King fought against.

There is no justification for the continued institutionalization of racism in Canada, in the same way that there is no justification in asking Allah to give you strength to not kill “these white people.” It is blatant racism. Although there doesn’t seem to be a tangible problem with police brutality in this country, BLM’s disconnect from reality—that is, its inability to accept fact and statistic, coupled with their divisive and often racist rhetoric—is keeping them from being a true force for social change in Canada.

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