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How a Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder sees Canada

Janaya Khan speaks out on BLM Toronto’s sit-in at Pride—and why marginalized groups shouldn’t always bear the burden of truth


 
Janaya Khan of Black Lives Matter. (Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Janaya Khan of Black Lives Matter. (Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Black Lives Matter Toronto claims that Canadian police, media, and society at large are inundated with anti-black racism. The organization, which started in the United States, is spreading across Canada, with protesters from Vancouver to Halifax chanting their slogans. Janaya Khan, one of the co-founders of the Toronto chapter, has been attending Pride for 10 years. On July 3, Khan helped lead the sit-in at the Toronto Pride parade that halted the march for half an hour. Khan sat down with Maclean’s on Thursday afternoon.

Q: What was it like growing up as a black queer youth in Toronto?

A: Difficult. Difficult. There are very few resources for someone with an intersectional identity in general, let alone someone who is black, who identifies as queer and as gender non-conforming. Fast forward to my first Pride where I was really out for the first time. Having been there only about 20 minutes I had my first interaction with the police at Pride. I have a history with interaction with the police that hasn’t gone very well for me. They’ve been very aggressive, often demanding ID and wanting information about where I’m going. I didn’t have the language then. I didn’t know I was being carded. It was so routine for people in my community that it just seemed like a natural occurrence that there would be that much police presence, that there would be that type of questioning. That was my first experience with a police officer at Pride, but that had been my experience my entire life in this city.

Q: There have been well documented attempts by organizations such as Blackness Yes! to get Pride to give more funding and provide more support for events like Blockorama [a stage set up during Pride featuring music, dance, and performances from black members of the LGBTQ+ community] for well over a decade. They’ve written letters and held public meetings and tried to have their concerns addressed through less confrontational means. Why did you feel it was time to escalate and stage a sit-in?

A: Because we were the honoured group. We needed to act honourably. We were the honoured group for reasons that were in alignment with our politics. We were the honoured group because we had critiqued the status quo, because we’d challenged police brutality, because we’d named anti-black racism. Why would we change our tactics at Pride?

Q: This year who specifically from Pride did you contact to get your concerns addressed before deciding to stage the sit-in?

A: Blackness Yes! and BQY [Black Queer Youth] had spoken to Pride Toronto organizers on several occasions. First and foremost we’re accountable to the community members that we serve. We are not a small group of people who make decisions. That’s what Pride Toronto is. We are a small group that represents a lot of people and we do not make the decisions for them, they make the decisions for us. They were like, ‘Okay, we’ve tried months prior to have those kinds of conversations and they haven’t worked.’ So they asked us to use our platform and of course we would.

Q: Between 2005 and 2015 the federal black inmate population in Canada grew by 69 per cent. That’s the fastest growth rate for any group of people. For comparison, the number of Aboriginal people in prison grew by a little over 50 per cent during the same period. Right now the incarceration of black people in Canada is triple their representation in society. What would you like the federal government to do to address this?

A: I think there needs to be an intervention on several levels. We can easily say eliminate carding and that would suddenly be it. The reality is: so long as racism exists, prisons will exist. They work hand in hand together and so it’s not a coincidence that the dramatic increase did go up in line with when carding practices became very normalized. On a federal level, look at Howard Sapers, who was the former prison watchdog who was fired by the Harper government [an election was called before Harper could replace Sapers and Trudeau has kept him on]. On a federal level the government is mandated to collect data on Indigenous populations. They’re not mandated to collect data on black populations. So Sapers created a special report because of the dramatic way that black people’s numbers were astronomical compared to their population. We make up 2.9 per cent of the population. We represent 10 per cent of the federal inmate population. As Black Lives Matter, we’re an intersectional movement. We are not a movement that is only fighting for black people. And so what happens in the Indigenous communities are often in line with what’s happening in black communities. We are the two largest populations in the Canadian federal inmate population, so our struggles are intrinsically linked.

Q: Let’s talk about Justin Trudeau. On May 17, he introduced legislation to protect the rights of transgender Canadians. Do you think he’s doing enough to support black trans people and black LGBTQ+ people?

A: No. I think any time that we’re changing legislation to make it more inclusive for people it’s important, but I think we also need to ask the question, always at the end: “For whom does this serve?” “Who is this going to be transformative for?” And often times because legislation isn’t considering anti-black racism, black people are lost in the holes, in the spaces, in the channels where racism exists, where disenfranchisement exists.

Q: In March, the United Nations commission on economic, social and cultural rights harshly criticized Canada for the disproportionate number of black children in the foster care system and the high dropout rate amongst black youth. Are there things that Black Lives Matter is calling for in the way that federal or provincial policy deals with the foster care system, deals with the education system?

A: What we’ve been calling for recently and since our founding is the need for data and the need for research. When we are looking at these massive gaps where black youth are falling through, we need data to substantiate what we’re seeing and what we’re experiencing. I can say that especially because I was one of those black youth that grew up in the foster system. I grew up in group homes and spent time in women’s shelters as a teenager. When you have that type of experience it becomes very deeply personal to you. We shouldn’t always have to use our personal experience to validate what we’re saying when it’s happening across the board. If we are making up 40 per cent of the youth that are in the foster care system [in Toronto], that is a state of emergency and it needs to be treated as such.

Q: How do you respond to people who say BLM “bullied” Pride or “hijacked” the parade?

A: We really need to interrogate the language being used. When we use language like that it suggests that we have some kind of social, systemic, and structural power. We’re a group of marginalized people coming together fighting against the police, fighting against a not-for-profit that provides governance for one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world. That manoeuvres over a million people. So when we say this is the group, I don’t think that’s in alignment with what bullying is or what bullying looks like, I really don’t. I think when people are fighting because we have been marginalized, because we have been brutalized and we’re actually standing up for ourselves, and people use a word like “bullied,” that’s anti-black racism to suggest that. When people are using the word “hijacked,” I think it really reflects that, because we have Muslim people on our team, how quickly we’re falling into anti-Islamic sentiment.

Q: You think “hijack” is a reference to the Islamic people on your team?

A: Oh, absolutely it is. I think there’s an investment with certain people to frame us as the type of organization that has the type of power to incite change in a particular way that we could have the power to hijack something so large.

Q: Do you see a difference in the way that anti-blackness manifests in Canada versus how it does in the United States?

A: We see two very different streams here than you find in the United States. A lot of how anti-black racism manifests here is in conjunction with anti-immigration sentiment because of the Somali community and also because of Islamophobia. The majority of black people in Canada actually don’t identify as black Canadians. Our experience of being racialized in Canada is: “Where are you from?” “But where are you really from?” You know? You don’t see that narrative in the States where it’s like: “You don’t belong here,” “This isn’t where you’re from.” African Americans and black Americans have been terms that people have used for decades, but the mainstream media doesn’t refer to us as black Canadians. We don’t refer to ourselves as that. So in a way you have the Canadian identity and you have the black identity and they’ve been separated.

Q: Do you think that’s a reflection of how Canadian immigration policy for decades tried to foster a mosaic, as opposed to a melting pot in the United States? People are encouraged to sort of subsume themselves in the United States and consider themselves American whether they’re Asian American, African American. Whereas, not only are black people in the Canadian media often referred to primarily as Somali or Guyanese, but you’d also see that with other communities where people are being referred to as say, Venezuelan not Latino. Is that part of it?

A: Yeah, that’s bigger than blackness. Racialized people are not often allowed to identify as Canadian, are not believed to be Canadian here. That type of nationality, I think that’s reserved for white Canadians and I think white Canadians reserve that for themselves.

Q: What do you think of the way you’ve been covered in the media? Do you think there’s anti-blackness in the Canadian media?

A: When language is being used like “hijacked,” when language is being used like “bullied,” when language is being used like “hostage,” these are really problematic and very dangerous, particularly when we hosted a sit-in in a public place. So the question that always comes up is: would this have been different if we were six white men? Would they be using that language then? I don’t think so. I’ve never seen that language used when white people have demonstrations. We didn’t see the media cover Occupy the way that they covered BLMTO Tent City. We saw the police treat Occupy in a certain way. They were allowed to have tents and fire. We were not allowed to have those in the middle of winter at Tent City for all 15 days that we were there. So I think the media has been deeply irresponsible. I think the media has been anti-black in its practice. The media is a reflection of society, and I think we’re seeing also a shift in how people understand what happened, we’re seeing a debate. We’re seeing tension, and that to me is a sign of growth and I think the media is reflecting that and that’s integral.

Q: You’ve said that you’ve received death threats since the sit-in, primarily from gay men.

A: Yes.

Q: Why do you think that is?

A: Gender and sexual diversity doesn’t negate racism. I think that Pride has turned into something that is primarily for gay white men. In 1981, when the bathhouse raids took place, the population that was most deeply impacted, at least according to the media, was gay white men. Gay white men can assimilate into heternormative culture, into straight culture in a way that someone like me never could. And because they’re able to assimilate, they’re able to create change and really inform what Pride Toronto is, what the Pride marches have looked like, who’s a part of it and who isn’t. So our action has challenged gay white men specifically and they’ve responded in white supremacist ways. That’s really what we’ve seen.

Q: Have you informed the police? Have you asked for any kind of protection?

A: That would suggest that I believe that the police could protect me and that they were invested in my protection. I don’t believe that.

Q: Are you afraid for your life?

A: The reality for black people now, in this moment in time in the world, is: whether you fight or not, you die anyway. So I’m going to fight. I think that fear is always a part of change, and I think fear is what makes people resist change, and I think we have to confront that fear head-on.

Q: You’ve called for an end to carding. Apart from carding, what would progress look like in terms of the relationship between police and black LGBTQ+ people?

A: You know, someone very smart said, “I’m an optimist by will and a pessimist by intellect.” That is a very, very complicated thing to respond to, because at this particular moment I’m not sure what that would look like, because the entire institution and the entire practice of police officers are informed by racism and so…

Q: You’re saying all police officers are racist?

A: No, I’m saying the institution.

Q: Can you explain the distinction as you see it?

A: There’s police who are individuals. Those individuals are not the problem. The problem is the institution that houses them. The problem is the institutional practices that sort of perpetuate anti-black racism, and so long as those systems are in place the police are going to act out in ways that are racist, and they’re going to act out in ways that are homophobic and transphobic, because that is the society that we live in. The police are a direct result of the society that we live in.

Q: I’m sure you saw the letter from the gay police officer who was trying to argue that exclusion is not inclusion and that by keeping police officers within the parade, there would be opportunities for reconciliation and for progress.

A: Thirty-five years, there’s been Pride. Thirty-five years. This is the first time that Pride has ever discussed the inclusion and participation of black people: because of Black Lives Matter Toronto, because of our participation in it. Entire groups of people have been committed to it for years. You know of course Pride is for you, of course. But what we are fighting against are the institutions, so police floats that are representatives of the institution. Police booths that promote the institution. Police uniforms, police being armed. I don’t want to be criminalized in the one place that I can bring my intersectional identity. Why is it that police officers who are, you know, LGBTQ-identified feel that they can’t participate just because they can’t participate as police? That’s really the question here.

Q: There has been criticism from people saying that Black Lives Matter is speaking for a variety of different groups such as Indigenous organizations, such as South Asian organizations. Are these communities working with you…

A: That’s correct. It’s always interesting to me who truth is required for. Who must bear the burden of truth? It’s not the police. It’s not governmental bodies. It’s not Pride Toronto. The burden of truth often falls on some of the most marginalized people. We have to prove that racism exists. There was some criticism that came out that said: if police have been aggressive to you, where’s the proof? That would suggest that somehow footage would change that but we know that that doesn’t change that either. Body cameras haven’t changed the ways that black death has occurred. Particularly in light of what we’re seeing in the States with Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, there’s video footage. There was video footage for Eric Garner. Video footage doesn’t mean that justice is served. Video footage doesn’t mean that we’re believed. I really think we need to shift the culture of who is supposed to be the burden-bearers of truth.


 

How a Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder sees Canada

  1. I suppose, if you think you are a victim , then you’re a victim.

    • One should consider why so many cops appear to be “racist” towards blacks; both in Canada, and the United States. Is it really the result of racists being welcomed into the police forces of both countries?

      I suspect not.

      Instead, I think what we are seeing in many cases, are young, naïve, but well meaning white folks joining the police service to help serve the community. What do you think their mindset would be after a few years of seeing the people they are dealing with on a repeated basis. What do you think YOU would believe if every day you were dealing with black people committing crime far in excess of their proportion to the rest of the people in your city? If 80% of the violent crime being committed was committed by blacks (mainly males) or 70% of the theft and property crime was being committed by blacks (and they only make up 3 – 4 % of the population)……what would that do to your head? What would that do to your perception every day? After a few years of this, wouldn’t you be suspicious every time you saw a black person who appears to be doing nothing in particular? If may not be a consideration that poverty is more the cause than being black…..

      It would be very difficult to separate the crooks and thieves you were dealing with on a daily basis from the innocent people who look just like those you arrest on a daily basis. Instead of criticising the “racist” cops who harass black people, perhaps the black community should start criticising those in their own community who bring them such disrepute and mistrust in the first place.

      Then perhaps the cops would actually think for a fraction of a second longer before they pull the trigger on an innocent man (or woman).

      As for the two men killed just before this madness in Dallas…..I saw the video. It was pretty clear these were two innocent men murdered by bad cops.

      Sheer madness, but until many in the black community starts taking responsibility for how they raise their children, and how those children behave…….this will continue.

      • I WAS not racist by ANY means, the scale is tipping a little for me though, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, especially the comments about taking responsibility for how people raise their children. Many of the incidents in question occurred after dark, what ever happened to “be home when the street lights come on?” Teach your children about your choices are YOUR choices and no one is responsible except YOU. There’s consequences for EVERYONE here. There are bad cops out there yaaa, and corruption in many PD’s. But it makes me furious that PD’s are being painted with this broad stroke. Many if not most do their jobs in a very ethical fashion, and should NOT be disrespected like this. IMHO it seems that the largest part of racism lies in the mind of those who are claiming to be the victims of it. They ARE in fact and in essence PROMOTING that which they claim to be fighting.

  2. “I don’t want to be criminalized in the one place that I can bring my intersectional identity.” Just take a moment to consider how deeply ludicrous this is on every possible level. So fully distrustful of the police that you can’t even handle their prescence at Pride. Trigger alert! And the notion that no only are any of us who criticize this cartoonishly loony group racist we’re also Islamophobic! The victimhood has to be repulsive for anyone who truly cares about social change, where people of nobility and bravery go about their business without throwing slavish paranoid fantasies around about the people and police of the most tolerant city on the planet. The irony is that if this group stuck to issues and dropped all the victimhood and identity politicking, some of us would listen more closely. As it is I can’t even stand the separatist, racist monologues they screech at every opportunity. The Toronto group needs some guidance from the US group.

  3. I fully support BLM, and I am grateful to them for helping take my head out of the sand. Thank you for bringing this issue into the public discourse. A lot of people have had to do a lot of difficult work in looking at ourselves this past week.

    Many of us are resisting that work, clearly. The comments on this article, and those on other sites, are so shameful. I can’t believe this is Canada in 2016. But I guess that’s another thing I can thank BLM for exposing.

    • Some shameful yes, but many that you might consider shameful are not, do some research, get the REAL facts, BLM is THE most racist group of them all, they themselves are promoting an ideology that will continue to be detrimental to black communities. Continually using colour of skin as an excuse instead of promoting individual responsibility.

  4. To the people calling BLM racist: I don’t think you know what that word means. Do you think it means “treating people a certain way based on the colour of their skin”? You’re like 10% of the way there. Racism is where a bunch of things in society – attitudes, actions, laws, traditions – come together to make life terrible for a group of people. It’s a million little things that add up. It’s growing up without role models in the media who look like you. It’s always second-guessing what people think of you. It’s being stopped and frisked by police when you’re on your way to a job interview or a date or picking your kids up from school.

    So you can say, “I’m a white guy, but I’m not racist.” That’s fine. I’m actually a white guy, and I don’t think I’m racist. But I do go running at night sometimes in a hoodie. Black people don’t do that, cause they don’t want to get shot by the police. So until you have some concrete examples of how you’re working to change that situation, you’re living your life better off than other people because of racism.

    • … which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever …

    • You’re conflating individual racism with institutional racism. Judging a person based on the colour of their skin, and reacting accordingly, is racism at the individual level. The colour of the skin of the one doing the judging is irrelevant.

    • Yeah, because there’s an epidemic of black people wearing hoodies getting shot in Canada by police. Please stop spreading this inflammatory nonsense.

      • Sarah10 If you read the interview carefully and with no preconceived opinion you will note that one of the the answers to the question posed was the question:
        Q. In March, the United Nations commission on economic, social and cultural rights harshly criticized Canada for the disproportionate number of black children in the foster care system and the high dropout rate amongst black youth. Are there things that Black Lives Matter is calling for in the way that federal or provincial policy deals with the foster care system, deals with the education system?

        Janaya Khan begins answering with a reasonable prelude by stating,
        A. “What we’ve been calling for recently and since our founding is the need for data and the need for research.”

        This is truly needed to back up any claim to a lived experienced. With evidence and data you would have the data that rightfully challenge your incredibly sarcastic statement,
        “Yeah, because there’s an epidemic of black people wearing hoodies getting shot in Canada by police. Please stop spreading this inflammatory nonsense”.

        Jana and MacLeans at least uses statistical data even as limited that data is; whereas you only offer rhetoric. It is clearly stated in the interview that there is a dearth of data of black people incarceration rate compared to black peoples percentage of the overall population because that information is not mandated to be collected by the federal government.

        Jana failed to mention there is no data collected on the race of people killed by police but there is a Toronto study initiated by the Toronto Star that requested all reports on Toronto SIU incidents that involved fatal shootings since 1990. They then had to cross reference all the incidents by date of shooting and other information to establish the race of the victim. Here are some of the findings along with an acknowledgement that in some cases they could not identify the race. (My comment having done research and data analysis is that you can usually extrapolate what the unknown factor (in this case race) will likely be. The extrapolation that works with a small margin of error is to follow the percentile/pattern of the existing known data). Please note that the data studied began in 1990 and ended in the summer of 2015 with the findings presented by the Star on Aug. 16, 2015..

        Key Findings:
        a) The analysis shows that, of the 51 fatal shootings involving the Toronto police, at least 18 involved black men, representing 35 per cent of fatal police shootings. Toronto’s black population is roughly 9 per cent.

        b) But in 17 cases, or 33 per cent, of the shootings it was not possible to identify for certain the racial background of the person killed or, with a few deaths, even their identity.

        c) The lack of information is compounded by the SIU’s decision in 2012 to stop automatically releasing the name of a person killed by police. The agency must now obtain permission from the family, creating a situation where the identities of some people killed by police are unknown.

        Therefore Toronto law enforcement has even greater control of what information they release and what information they can hold classified or hidden.

        Another study (2000-2006) conducted by Scot Wortley, Ph.D, Associate Professor; Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto and noted in this same Toronto Star report actually shows a higher rate although at the time he used what was then 6.7% percentile of the black population which pretty much correlates to population growth.

        Given that if the Star commissioned study would have utilized the mean average of black population and other populations for each individual year from 1990 to 2015 it is likely even without the known race of the 17 people that you would likely see that the percentage of blacks killed by police versus all other populations was under reported.
        thestar.com/news/crime/2015/08/16/how-many-black-men-have-been-killed-by-toronto-police-we-cant-know.html

        Food for thought if you are the least bit interested in getting as close to the truth and as far away from inflammatory nonsense as you so eagerly described as possible. For that you need to have an open mind which I hope you do. Because otherwise you are just added fuel to the existing rhetoric of the uninformed.

        • Interestingly, though, I remember some years back we stopped collecting stats on race as it pertains to police interactions because of black activism and a series of articles in the Star.

          Now they are bemoaning the lack of stats?

          As I said at the time, the problem wasn’t the data itself; it was the way it was being used. I also said they would eventually regret that action. And here we are…

          • Bang on Keith. I recall that story as well.

            When it came out that almost 80% of the crime was coming from the black community, (at the time about 3% of the population) the black activist groups put the kibosh on further gathering of stats.

            At the time I brought up that you could also use this statistic to show that the black community was also disproportionately at the greatest risk of being poor and uneducated with would mean they are relegated to the status quo.

            Folks only like stats when they support their side of the argument.

        • My comment was specific, in response to the previous comment, which suggested black men in hoodies who go for a jog need to fear for their lives from police.
          But let’s provide a little context and much needed perspective. In the high profile cases of Jermaine Carby and Andrew Loku who were shot by police here in Canada.
          Mr Carby had outstanding warrants for his arrest, pulled a knife when asked for ID, and refused to drop the weapon.
          Mr. Loku was threatening to kill someone with a hammer and refused to drop the weapon when instructed to by police.
          How do these scenarios turn into a narrative of “victims” of systemic police brutality?

          • Because “social justice” and career activism is big business. It’s huge right now in the US, and well we always sort of take our cultural cues from our neighbours south of the border. You have a bunch of pampered millennials who were so desperate to have their own chance to protest, that as soon as a black person was killed by the cops they must have been so overjoyed, and relieved. That tent city protest sure as hell wasn’t spontaneous, they had it all planned out and were waiting for a casus belli to go LARP as civil rights heroes. Notice how, just like with the Pride parade, a big part of their demands were about “support”, “commitment” and filling job positions with or straight up creating them for their cronies. In other words, funneling public money into their organization.

    • Black people don’t wear hoodies at night? Lmao what are you talking about? I’m guessing that like most white SJWs you don’t have much contact with black people and presume to speak for them. It’s pretty patronizing. How often do black people get shot by police here anyway? What can you point to in our society here in Canada that needs to be changed anyway? Just giving more money to BLM or is there anything else?

  5. “We live in an imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist, hetero-patriarchy.” — Janaya Khan, in the Huffington Post, March 21/2016

    It’s good to see that this person has found gainful, long-term employment, trying to rid Toronto of imperalists, whites, capitalists, heterosexuals and males/patriarchs.

    • We live in an imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist, hetero-patriarchy.” — Janaya Khan, in the Huffington Post, March 21/2016

      Someone should tell Janaya she should be thankful. If it wasn’t for the society she decries above, she would most likely be wearing a grass skirt and digging for grubs and tubers in the savannah somewhere in Africa to stave off starvation for another day.

  6. Jayana Khan should be ashamed of herself. Black lives do matter, but BLM showed childish bad manners that cost them support they could not affort to lose.

  7. This person is a Marxist, and like all Marxists babbles nonsense slogans.

  8. “Our experience of being racialized in Canada is: “Where are you from?” “But where are you really from?” You know? You don’t see that narrative in the States…”
    This strikes me as a misunderstanding of Canadian culture. Canadians are more likely to recognize that we are ALL “from” somewhere else, unless we’re aboriginal. I grew up in a town where, at the time, there were no black people, but as a kid, one of the first questions when meeting someone new was “what nationality are you?” or “where are you from?” One would expect an answer like English, Finnish, Yugoslavian, German, and one would actually have to ask because you’d have to go back a generation or two to find a tell-tale accent. (when the person was French, you wouldn’t have to ask) I also spent a year in the States as a kid, and was perplexed when the answer was “America” even when I asked “but where are you REALLY from?” So as far as I know, “You don’t see that narrative in the States…” because their culture doesn’t recognize people’s history or heritage in general. You can expect everyone in Canada to hear the question “where are you from?” at some point, regardless of colour. It doesn’t racialize anyone.

    • BLM is one of the most racist groups I’ve ever encountered. They want to totally exclude all others and
      are developing very bad PR because of this.
      These folks talk like civil rights activists of the 50’s and 60’s and, while things are not perfect in Canada, we have advanced well beyond that. BLM will undo any good that has happened over the last 50+ years.

    • I completely agree that the question, when asked, is usually one of simple curiosity. But I know people of colour who perceive it differently. Though I’ve given them this explanation on more than one occasion, they still perceive it as reflecting a lack of acceptance. In some instances, the question probably has indicated just that – so I can understand why they have generalized it and become suspicious of the question even when asked innocently. I try not to ask the question anymore – at least, not until the person has gotten to know me and (hopefully) won’t misread the intent.

    • I completely agree. If anything I ask the question because I’m curious about other cultures, and interested in people’s different experiences.
      Instead of celebrating different cultural backgrounds (isn’t that what Canada is after all?) people like this are trying to turn it into a racial discrimination narrative. Shame on them.

    • I agree that is is a complete misunderstanding/misinterpretation of Canadian culture. Asking people where they are ‘really’ from is a common question anywhere I’ve lived in Saskatchewan & Alberta as a way to get to know your neighbors & friends & learn about other cultures. I was quite surprised to read that she has such a negative connotation to a ‘get to know you’ kind of question. In fact I think it’s quite dangerous to take something like that to the extreme without proper context, questioning & understanding of intent. We are not a melting pot like the United States, so obviously this is not a question that would be asked there. We are 2 completely different countries with different cultures. Obviously we are not without our own problems, but I see Canada as a ‘celebrate where you are from’ kind of country. The 2 cities where I have lived the longest have amazing large scale all inclusive cultural festivals where we celebrate everyone’s food, dance, dress, sport etc – Saskatoon’s FolkFest & Edmonton’s Heritage Festival. I highly recommend anyone check them out. Although the one in Saskatoon is licensed, so it’s a bit more fun ;)

      Anyhow, overall I worry her/her groups tactics & tone to be in such a way that will incite more violence. I think respect & peace matter the most. I find it hard to listen to the core of what BLM is saying because of this.

  9. “Right now the incarceration of black people in Canada is triple their representation in society.”

    Which means that they commit more crimes than other groups.

    BTW wasn’t Khan the basis for the character Zoey in “The Dictator”?

    • Not necessarily. It can also be a reflection of police keeping a closer eye on that segment of society; of being far less willing to let small things go; of a justice system that is more willing to see dubious evidence as proof if the defendant’s skin is more darkly pigmented; of handing down harsher sentences for the same crime to dark-skinned than light-skinned.

      It may also be that, if there actually a higher percentage who gravitate to crime, it’s because they have less opportunity for success and get beaten down, and so succumb. Which means society as a whole is to blame.

      To simply say “they commit more crimes than other groups” is to say there’s something inherently different about them because of skin colour. Which is an incredibly racist assumption.

      • Statistics are also broken down by age groups and gender. Are you suggesting that statistical data is inherently racist, ageist and sexist?

        • No; I’m saying numbers require a deeper interpretation than a face-value acceptance. Michael asserted that the numbers re incarceration rates prove blacks commit more crimes; I’m saying that
          (a) this may instead be proof of institutional racism and
          (b) even if they commit more crimes on the whole, it is likely a reflection of the way society treats them, given that the majority of crimes are committed by the marginalized, regardless of colour.

          • Keith,

            I agree with much of what you write above, but frankly, if at the end of the day some black guy breaks into my house and robs me, or threatens my family…..I don’t give a rats ass how hard his life has been, or how poor he is, or how bad he speaks English.

            But like most NORMAL sane folks out their trying to protect their families in similar situations……..I’ll cave his head in with a bat the first chance I get.

      • “To simply say “they commit more crimes than other groups” is to say there’s something inherently different about them because of skin colour. Which is an incredibly racist assumption.”

        Actually no, the colour of someone’s skin has nothing to do with it. Black people aren’t genetically predisposed to commit more crime, that’s ridiculous. And yet they still do. So the problem must be one of culture. And here is the elephant in the room for SJWs: the black community has a major problem with fathers neglecting or abandoning their children. Boys grow up fatherless and end up getting raised by the gangbangers on the street, who were products of the same upbringing. Girl grow up fatherless and end up desperate for male approval, having children they can’t afford with multiple fathers. Of course, I’m not saying this is all black people who do this. I’m just saying this is prevalent in black communities the world over, and so is violent crime. You know what else I find is prevalent? The attitude that it’s always someone else’s (read:white people) fault. “Society as a whole is to blame”. No black person is ever responsible for their own actions in the mind of the SJW. I honestly find that incredibly racist and patronizing.

        Your comment speaks to a sheltered upbringing to be quite frank. You’ve obviously never lived in a majority black area in Toronto. You obviously don’t seem to have much knowledge of the criminal justice system in Canada. All criminals here are treated with kid gloves, it takes multiple offenses to do any time. Those black and aboriginal inmates have all been given many, many chances before they end up serving a (ridiculously short) sentence – just like white inmates and every other race. The blame game isn’t helping black people achieve their potential, that’s for sure, so it’s time to cut the crap.

        • “You’ve obviously never lived in a majority black area in Toronto. You obviously don’t seem to have much knowledge of the criminal justice system in Canada.”

          I’ve been in a relationship with a black woman for the past four years – so I’ve had some exposure to what black Canadians face (though as a white guy who grew up in NL, I’m the first to admit I still have much to learn). I work in legal publishing, so I have a better understanding of the justice system than the average Canadian.

          So John, what makes you so much wiser?

          Here’s the thing: Most criminals come from the socially marginalized classes. A higher percentage of darker-skinned people are in those classes than in other classes – so yes, to a degree it’s probably not surprising that they make up a larger proportion of those in jail.

          But it’s also fairly clear that there is an unfair treatment of the darker-complexioned by our justice system.

          So yeah, maybe there’s a need for cultural change within parts of the black community. But for that to happen, they first need hope. Better opportunities and fairer treatment will go a long way to remedying the problem.

          • Actually, Keith,

            If black women were a little more discerning about who they become impregnated by…that would help a lot too. Oh..and marriage. marriage is a good way to help solve that problem, as is ensuring that all of your kids have the same dad who actually WANTS to be a dad, and support his progeny………… if at all possible.

            Two simple things…..solve most of the problems.

          • Lol, “maybe” there’s a need for cultural change? Tell me, here in Canada what opportunities are there not available to black people that are available to everyone else? What fair treatment are they not getting? You SJWs only deal with buzzwords. This isn’t the US. If there’s no hope in that community, it’s again because of terrible or non-existent parenting.

            A relationship with a black woman eh? I’ve been married to one for almost 10 years, and I also grew up in metro housing with a majority black population. My white privilege didn’t help me out there too much, let me tell you. But yea I’ve seen what the black community faces as well. Their main problem is fathers that neglect or abandon their kids. Really, it comes down to terrible decisions being constantly made. And it all starts with the lack of family values in the community. I see it time and again with the black people I know, including my wife’s family. Men are coddled by the single mother, excuses are ALWAYS made for them. They end up with a few baby mothers of their own, with kids they can’t afford. Women grow up without a father and end up spreading their legs for any guy who can spit a little game. Then they have kids that they can’t afford by multiple baby fathers. And the cycle continues.

            There’s nothing more the system can do to cure the ills that are plaguing this community. There’s no systemic barriers in their way, no state-sanctioned oppression. Just a bunch of people who need to make better decisions. But the constant excuse-making and victim mentality isn’t helping, it only makes it worse. So does the patronizing, enabling attitude from SJWs like yourself.

  10. If the goal was to change the perception of BLM from a respected, effective organization who was fighting the good fight to one of a group of self important wall builders you succeeded. Read this article looking for understanding but only came away with the impression that Janaya can only see in black and white. Easy to hijack a parade, harder to work to building bridges. And Janaya is the only one implying that hijacking = Muslim.

    • Well said. And as a “child” of the 60s, living for some time in the southern US, I can say confidently that Janaya Khan is not the first black person to radicalize and, in so doing, damage the cause of freedom, justice and plain old fairness which she purports to stand for.

      I don’t think it’s possible to win anything worthwhile through anger, hatred and violence … and those things lurk in Khan’s words like monsters in the closet.

      Sad.

    • The goal here doesn’t seem to be to change the perception or better anyone’s life.
      Rather it seems that it is to create divisiveness and pit groups against each other.

  11. I do find it interesting that Ms. Khan criticizes people for describing their actions with the word ‘hijacked’ – as it is a loaded word that implies a much greater meaning.

    Yet, she has no problem using the words ‘white supremacists’ to describe gay white men.

    Now which has the much great negative implication? The answer is obvious.

    At least, take ownership for your actions. Having a valid cause does not and should not shield you from valid criticism.

    • In the world of trained victims and professional radicals – such as Janaya Khan – there is no such thing as “valid criticism”.

      They remind me of a certain Christian sect that regards rejection and abuse as clear evidence that God loves them.

  12. I’m tired. I’m tired of people blaming others for their own insecurities. I’m tired of people screaming racism over stupid things. I don’t give a damn if you’re gay or straight or transgender or black or native or white or oriental or Indian or Philippino or anything else you can claim to be. I am tired of being told all whites are racist, by obvious racists. And mostly, I am tired of crime skyrocketing because parents don’t teach their kids right from wrong or even raise their kids. 40% of kids in foster care are black? Really? Where are their parents? Definitely not raising happy healthy kids, but I guess that’s my fault too, since I’m white.

      • Not by looking at the number of murders and shootings everyday in the GTA.

        • We have had a large jump this year; only time will tell whether it’s a statistical anomaly or a genuine trend. But up to now, the stats clearly show a downward trend.

          • Interesting how the large jump – in black on black shootings – seemed to happen once the practice of carding was abolished.

          • Interesting how the large jump – in black on black shootings – seemed to happen once the practice of carding was abolished.

            Congrats to the black community on eliminating carding…..”how’s that working out for you?”

  13. Children’s Aid Society needs to stop taking black children out of black homes. Leave them there. No matter what. Then there will be more peace.

  14. Q: You think “hijack” is a reference to the Islamic people on your team?
    A: Oh, absolutely it is.

    You sort of had me up until that point. Unfortunately, that claim is so asinine, it quite frankly discredits everything else you claim to be true.

    • Not to mention that their argument against having Police representation in the Pride Parade is equally specious, illogical, and ridiculous.

      It’s clear they’ve reached a stage where they are WAY overplaying their hand.

  15. Its easy to understand that life is harder in Canada if you are Black rather than white, native born rather than an immigrant, or Muslim rather than a member of a religion that is more traditional to Canada. But this woman is so twisted in her self pitying attitude that she would likely have a hard time in life no matter what colour, religion or sexual orientation she. Rather than seeking to manage and overcome her challenges, she angrily blames them entirely on everyone else except herself. Then she adds to her problems with her sense of entitlement. Colour me unsympathetic. I rise to the aid of those who first strive to help themselves. So do most most intelligent people and presumable most organizations including the police and Toronto Gay Pride.

    • As Khan says, “white supremacy will deny it’s imperialist, capitalist Christian hetero-patriarchal fanaticism”.

      Um, right.

      The saddest thing of all is that the angrier and more vicious this person (Khan) gets, the less credible she becomes. The less likely that she will improve the lives of black people, trans people, or anybody else. The less inclined most people are to listen. The more likely that the majority will simply stop caring.

      But finding solutions, of course, is not her aim. Building a personal profile and a career as a professional activist is her goal.

  16. “We needed to act honourably. We were the honoured group for reasons that were in alignment with our politics. We were the honoured group because we had critiqued the status quo, because we’d challenged police brutality, because we’d named anti-black racism. Why would we change our tactics at Pride?”

    She clearly has a different sense of “acting honourably” than I do. Pride held them up; put them front and center – and their response? A big “Eff you.”

    If they felt Pride was treating them disrespectfully, and that they needed to protest, then the honourable thing to do wouldhave been to decline the invitation; make a lot of noise about why; and then launch their protest from outside the parade – not from a position of “honour” within it.

    I support the objectives of the larger BLM movement. There needs to be a lot more change in attitudes and institutions. But if Khan thinks others are untrustworthy and that she can’t work with them, well, after behaviour like this I’m sure the feeling will be mutual.

    BLM TO has done itself a lot of damage with its behaviour during Pride; damage that will likely need a change of leadership to undo. And that’s too bad, given how badly such a group is needed.

    • As for Khan’s “hijacking” comment: It doesn’t have anti-Muslim overtones. It’s a commonly used term in the business or political world for when someone comes to a meeting called for one reason, and takes it over with a completely different agenda.

      One day when my daughter was small, we heard her singing “Baa Baa White Sheep.” She learned it at daycare. When we asked about it, they changed the words because they thought “black sheep” had to be a racist reference because “sheep are white; there isn’t such a thing as black sheep”.

      Sometimes racism is inferred where none exists.

  17. “When we use language like that it suggests that we have some kind of social, systemic, and structural power.”
    Says the women whose group is funded by billionaire George Soros, well-know for capitalizing off social unrest. Do a little research on him (the Washington Times did) and then decide if you really want to empower this group here in Canada.

  18. Black lives don’t matter because nothing matters. We live in a world where everything is so intensely important. You can see it in the face of the woman in the picture at the beginning of this article. Some think that things matter so much that they strap bombs onto themselves and destroy life all around them. Or at the very least interrupt parades.

    When I say nothing matters I don’t mean in a nihilistic way, I mean in a child-like way! You remember that time of your life, right? You lived in the glorious present moment and life was happiness and fun…kind of like paradise. Somewhere along the line we created cultures and became so offended about the littlest things.

    It’s this mind-set that has created the pressure cooker we now live in. When we describe the world around us were actually creating it. Lets create something better and more fun!…Lets all lighten up.

  19. When the activist says something blatantly false, such as:
    “We didn’t see the media cover Occupy the way that they covered BLMTO Tent City. We saw the police treat Occupy in a certain way. They were allowed to have tents and fire. We were not allowed to have those in the middle of winter at Tent City for all 15 days that we were there. ”
    and then the writer just lets that go without any argument, the article becomes an opinion piece written by the activist being interviewed.

    I was part of Occupy Toronto after the main camp in St. James Park was closed down, other camps started up but police aggressively harassed us, and wearing an Occupy pin made you an immediate target for random searches by police.
    People got beaten by police at Occupy meetings when police decided to break them up, even though it was livestreamed and the video was clear, it got barely any coverage and no long term follow up because media had decided Occupy was an ‘old story’ and moved on.
    When the camp was in play, the militant nature of Occupy and the sheer numbers kept them back, and efforts were made by organizers to keep semi-positive relationships with local businesses, though this was difficult. BLM’s camp was much smaller, mostly spoiled middle class university students, and they were rude and pushy with everyone who talked to them.
    Police also developed contingency plans after Occupy, since nothing like it had ever been done.
    Friends of mine were beaten up by police for being involved with Occupy, police targetted ex-Occupiers for years after with constant random searches and harassment once they identified them and added them to the TAVIS database. My friend John Erb was beaten by police at the corner of young and dundas, even though his occupod (living space on wheels) wasn’t illegal and they had no real reason except it said ‘Occupy Toronto’ on the side and they had been told to eliminate any presence of Occupy they found in any public place.
    The Pride organizers wouldn’t even allow an Occupy banner in the parade because police had asked them not to, organizers didn’t even argue, and they enforced it themselves and treated Occupy people like shit even though their activists were allowed to push their own agenda at Occupy events. BLM did nothing for Pride, but Pride let them lead the parade and they still threw a temper tantrum to demand the exclusion and marginalization of people they didn’t like, including black cops.

    Also, BLM’s main narrative is false, more white people are killed by police than any other racial group.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/

    • The stats you link to say 494 white, 258 black, and 172 Hispanic (which I assume also includes Latino) Americans were killed by cops in 2015. At the same time, the white population of the US is roughly 62 per cent, black 13 per cent, and Hispanic 17 per cent. This means that last year, white Americans had eight such killings per percentage point, Hispanic Americans ten, and black Americans twenty. This situation is untenable.

      • But that same 13% of the population commits over 50% of the murders. So wouldn’t it be assumed that they have a higher rater of contact with the police, and therefore (sadly) more instances of being shot by them? And how come we don’t get a massive media event complete with Obama commenting on it when a white person is shot by the police? It’s almost like someone is trying to provoke a race war in the States.

  20. Well, obviously there’s a lot of BS in this, as it’s coming from a professional victim who has everything to gain from appearing “oppressed”. One thing that stuck out to me though was the references to a high rate of black children in the foster system. How exactly do we blame that on the white man? Seems like the oppressive, racist system is doing something to help the staggering amount of children who are abandoned, neglected, or abused by their black parents. But what was telling was when Khan talked about her own personal history living in group homes and women’s shelters. Maybe the reason that she’s so angry at the world is because of the terrible family situation she was born into? And maybe that’s why she’s dedicated her life to fomenting racial tensions in Toronto, because for her that’s easier than dealing with the emotional trauma caused by her parents (or lack thereof).

    This group can’t point to any legit oppression in Toronto, there aren’t any systemic barriers for non-white people to succeed here. So they aggressively scream racism and shake down organizations like Pride for “support” and “commitment” which really means $$$. We shouldn’t be enabling these spoiled brats, but the current politically correct climate calls for anyone who disagrees with them to be branded a racist. I say we should reject their divisive rhetoric.

    • Actually you are wrong. I know several people in HR who have admitted to me privately that they screen out Black applicants. Just like that casually shared and happening right here in TO.

      • HR as in human resources? You know multiple people who admit to screening black applicants?? I find that a little hard to believe, to be perfectly frank. If they ever got caught admitting that, their careers would be done. Interesting you bring that up though in the context of systemic racism, it’s something to think about. We’ll never completely end racism in some people’s hearts, that’s a matter of individual racism not a systemic issue. If an HR person isn’t hiring black people because of the colour of their skin, that doesn’t mean that Canada is a racist country. If it’s a nationwide trend, then sure, it’s a systemic problem. I believe that it isn’t, despite the fact that you personally seem to be on an intimate basis with a lot of racists.

        On the other hand, when you apply for any decent job these days note how it says that “priority will be given to visible minority candidates”. It’s hilarious especially in Toronto where not being white definitely doesn’t make you a minority of the population, but I digress. If you’re white and going for that job, you’ve just experienced systemic racism. And it isn’t even hidden, they’re straight up telling you.

  21. I support BLM and am in awe of the courage shown by the founders of BLM Canada in particular. As a white guy, I wonder what I could be doing to contribute in a way that was useful to Black Lives Matter. I feel there are many white people with this same want but I am not about to assume I could even be of use as much as I may want to be of use. What could I be doing beginning today? I wish more white people speaking out negatively against BLM would see that racism is a white person problem and it’s us that needs to change

    • WJ – this white person is speaking out against BLM TO because of its leadership – not because I think things are perfect as is. As I noted above, Khan’s sense of “honour” is rather out of sync with most people’s – and lines like “When people are using the word “hijacked,” I think it really reflects that, because we have Muslim people on our team, how quickly we’re falling into anti-Islamic sentiment” prove she’s a joke.

      Khan sees negative intent everywhere, and her evident hatred of non-blacks is making the larger movement look bad. She needs to go.

    • WJ ROllins…

      If you want to help…do this.

      The next time some black guy pulls a knife and demands your wallet, or breaks into your house, or assaults you on the street. Don’t call the cops. Just give it up. Stand on the corner and shout your progressive credentials, and there you go. You are what the BLM’s folks are looking for.

      • You think only black males commit crimes?

    • lol, so anyone who disagrees with BLM is a racist? I have been seeing this refrain from white-guilt SJWs over and over and I can’t understand it. I never get a good explanation. How is criticizing someone’s actions racist? And what exactly do white people need to change about ourselves??

  22. BLM is a very important group, and by hijacking the parade (I refuse to accept that phrase singles out a religion) they have isolated themselves. If I was organizing a parade/party/celebration/festival – I wouldn’t invite them because of how they treated Pride.

  23. Kahn or her family are immigrants from Somalia. Instead of being grateful that she is in Canada, she finds things to complain about. Anyone who is able to emigrate from the war torn country of Somalia should be endlessly grateful to be living in this country.

    • The fact that Khan is an amateur boxer in her/his spare time indicates – to me, an amateur psychologist – that he/she may have a number of unresolved anger issues.

  24. Dear Canadians,

    You have to truly be extremely unintelligent to believe in this rubbish.

    First off, I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Jamaica to Canada. The reason why we moved here is because if you are born here you are truly a Canadian.

    My skin is BLACK. But I would NEVER EVER identify with these people in Toronto.

    WE ARE NOT MINORITIES. The aboriginal people are. Blacks = Whites = Yellow = Brown. THERE ARE NO MINORITIES.

  25. I’m a little late to this conversation, but the unfortunate action of The Tenors in San Diego tonight has really got me riled up. And I got to thinking about Black Lives Matter a little more. I fully support the goals of this protest group. I do not support their actions in Toronto during the Pride parade, in which they were given “honoured” status: their behaviour was not honourable. Most Canadians don’t want American-style behaviour in this country. We don’t like disruptive and confrontational behaviour. Yet, we still manage to make our views known and to have an impact. We just remain diligent and persistent and eventually our goals are reached. Now, in the interests of all of us working together to change a terrible situation, I’d like to suggest that Black Lives Matter consider adding the word “too” to their logo: BLACK LIVES MATTER, TOO! It really speaks more to the truth of the situation, which is that although all lives do matter, too often black lives don’t. This would calm the lack of understanding and anger that some people feel about the logo as it is now, and would in my opinion, garner more support for the protest movement and help to hurry up the changes that are so desperately needed. I make this suggestion with great respect.

    • Fujikats, please enlighten me, what are BLM’s goals?

      As for black lives “too often” not mattering, could you please provide some support for this statement. I mean actual evidence, rather than your personal feelings.

  26. The problem with this group is that like any other special interest group, they don’t really want a dialog to try to solve the problems they complain about. They just want their demands met. Period end of story.

    Until this group is prepared to admit to, and discuss the disproportionate amount of gun violence being perpetrated by young black men in Toronto, there can be no rational discussion about the problem of police treating them differently. If the police perceive a greater threat to their own personal safety when dealing with black people then of course they are going to be extra cautious and err on the side of their own personal safety. That’s not racism. That is simply personal self preservation which is inherent in every human being (and every animal for that matter). To try to make the police ignore their personal safety and treat a little old lady who’s just run a red light the same as they would approach a van full 20-something black males who just committed the same crime is asking the impossible.

    But this group won’t admit to the problem and certainly are not prepared to discuss it. In fact they accuse anyone who even suggests that the dialog should include both sides of the problem as a racist act in itself. They may get a Liberal government to agree to a one-sided debate and even may get some concessions from them but that will only make the problem worse.

    But this group does not want the issue of the Caribbean Gangs and the

  27. This is dumb. Janaya is an idiot and shouldn’t be given a platform to push her radical, racist views.

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