Community Resources Criminal Justice Information Youth Youth Empowerment Programs

Woke: A Beginner’s Guide to Supporting Youth

We have spent the past few months, June 2020 to now talking about anti-Black racism. We have witnessed the horror of Mr. Floyd’s murder, and have fought for justice for many Black youth, men and women killed by the police and other citizens. We have watched as many have pulled titles off the shelves, “White fragility” by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, “The Skin we are in” by Desmond Cole, and “So you want to talk about race”, by  Ijeoma Oluo. We have applauded bookstores, clothing stores, social media, social services, and other organizations who dared to stand in solidarity and post, “anti-Black racism” pledges on their websites. It is not new to us. But, a little sigh of relief came as I finally felt validated– for a minute. But what does anti-Black racism mean? How does this impact our lives? Our children’s lives?

In Ontario, it means that Black babies experience a different life than other children. It means that you can expect racism exists throughout their childhood into their adulthood. It means that Black children don’t have access to the same treatment in health care. It means that Black girls don’t love their skin, and wish they were different. It means that Black boys feel like they are always in trouble, and nobody cares about them. It means that Black boys and girls are separated from their families, and placed in foster care. It means that they will remain in foster care, and may never return home or become adopted. It means that Black youth are discouraged from entering University, and forced into trades careers. It means that Black men are stopped by the police, more than their counterparts, and further arrested and charged. It means that Black males spend more time in per-sentence custody than other youth. It means that Black males are sentenced for lengthier time in prison. It means that Black men and women enter relationships with inherent feelings of shame, worthlessness, and low self-confidence, and these stressors can negatively impact their relationships. It means that Black adults often feel isolated. They are rarely promoted to supervisor or managerial positions, although they have the education and the experience. It means that when they begin to speak in a meeting, they are often interrupted and their ideas disregarded. It changes you. It alters your personality.

How can you become an Ally?

For youth, it means that you create spaces for young people to use their voice. You educate them on how the system operates, and you give them tools on how they can dismantle the system. You give them choices. You give youth choices to create their own path, and where they experience barriers, you create a way. You encourage them, so youth can empower themselves. You create spaces for representation. People that look like them, to mentor and support them. You include their stories, their culture, and their lived experiences in your curriculum and reading lists. You post pictures of people that look like them on the wall, alongside the pictures of their friends. You promote & engage their success, their creativity, their art, their experiences, and their identity in spaces where they once felt ignored, and isolated. You learn to examine your own biases and belief systems, and you learn to accept guilt.

When you do, when you give Black youth space to develop and cultivate their identity… you develop a strong Black community, a stronger city and region, a stronger province and a much stronger nation. Imagine if all of our children had no barriers to access success? Imagine how far along we will be as a nation?

Black Girl Magic

From The Book Shelf

There are so many titles. Find your next book, at these retailers: Notability, A Different Booklist, and Knowledge Bookstore

Seeking Youth’s Submissions

To share your story, please write for us, share your videos, and share your music! Your work will be featured on our website, promoted amongst our community, and showcased at our 2021 Wellness Fair.

Join our team, promote our initiative and volunteer to help shape healthier families for our community. We create and promote mentorship opportunities for youth. Contact us at:

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