Local activist addresses anti-racism and allyship in new online course
KITCHENER -- You may have heard the term anti-racism, but what does it mean to be an anti-racist?
According to local activist Salem Debs, “to be an anti-racist is really to be actively dismantling systems, all systems every place that you are.”
Debs created a course on what it means to be anti-racist just over a year ago. Then when momentum began to build after the Black Lives Matter March in June, organizations in Waterloo Region started to reach out.
For Debs, change begins with education and “learning from Canada’s history, all the way to implicit bias, allyship and how to become an anti-racist... and we talk about white supremacy and white fragility. It really is for anyone.”
Lutherwood and Overlap Associates in Waterloo Region say they signed up for the course in order to take a deeper look at their operations, and create growth beyond the boardroom.
“Not just professionally, but personally I think, that I am going to go through quite a time of learning,” says Lisa Gorgan, Co-CEO of Overlap Associates. “I’m a mom to three daughters, and so I’m also looking forward to sharing with my own family what I’ve learned.”
“We want our employees to feel empowered, and to engage in authentic allyship, and have those uncomfortable conversations so that we are an organization that hires, promotes and serves the full diversity of our community,” says Andrea Dunn, the Director of Human Resources at Lutherwood.
Through her own experiences and those of her racialized friends and family, Debs feels racism is still an issue in Waterloo Region, but she is hopeful that through education - change can happen.
“Once Kitchener-Waterloo starts to embrace this new path forward it will serve everyone,” says Debs. “For us to be us to be more awake, more conscious, and more progressive.”
The course will be available online in October for business and individuals across Waterloo Region.