"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek"
- Barack Obama
Black History Month which is celebrated annually during the month of February is an opportunity to acknowledge the many contributions Black trailblazers have made throughout history. It is a global celebration of Black excellence, leadership, and innovation. It is a chance for all of us to stop, reflect, and look beyond our own personal lives to listen to the stories that are far too often neglected.
Despite all of the pleasant and inspiring things we can say about Black history, it is imperative that we open our eyes to the reality that Anti-Black racism still exists. Although we've just step foot into the year 2021, there are many things occurring in our communities that are reminiscent of a past full of prejudice and racial injustice.
There have been numerous national stories that have attracted global attention over the last few years which have inspired unrest and much needed dialogue on the treatment of Black bodies, especially those in North America. While we believe that Canada is a model example when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have a long way to go in ensuring the voices and experiences of Black individuals are heard. Black racism in Canada is systemic issue that continues to appear across various arenas such as education, healthcare, employment, and policing.
The experiences of Black individuals in long-term care, whether it be that of a resident, family member, or staff person is unique in its own right. There are numerous dynamics to unpack and understand which will take time, effort, and patience. While we may celebrate those individuals and their diverse backgrounds gallantly during the month of February, we must be cognizant that Black skin and heritage carries so much rich history - one month a year isn't enough to understand it all. What has happened in the past shapes our future and it is paramount that Black history and learning about it becomes a continuous journey. Long-term care studies, specifically those that have analysed the experiences of racialized residents, have exposed themes that are hard to ignore. Intergenerational trauma, racial intolerance, unconscious bias and more influence the way residents, families, and staff view and experience long-term care. With that being said, so much more can be done to improve and enhance the sector so that it is truly representative of diverse faces and voices.
As we reflect on Black History Month and what it means for so many individuals from different generations and walks of life, let's be mindful of the progress that still needs to be made. Let's reflect on our personal privileges and intentions. We can all make a difference if we work collectively towards dismantling racism, not just for February, but every single day.