Becoming an ally and the practice of anti-racism

In his book How To Be An Antiracist, author Ibram X. Kendi talks about “denial as the heartbeat of racism” and says, “the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it—and then dismantle it.”

We recognize that racism is a root cause of poverty and we understand that there are barriers that need to be dismantled in order to progress. While words play a role, actions are more critical.

Actively participating in anti-racist practices and creating anti-racist policies provides solutions. As we find common ground and continue meaningful conversations, we create opportunities for learning and growth.

So, how does being an ally relate to poverty reduction?

Our Enough for All principle is reducing racism and discrimination and promoting diversity in the development and evaluation of policies, services, programs and workplace practices.

This principle matters because systemic racism, ageism, and exclusion make it more difficult for many Calgarians (including Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, visible minorities and aging populations) to access jobs and services, and to feel welcome and supported in the community. 

Poverty is a relevant issue in Calgary and is widespread across Canada, but it’s important to note that vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities, single parents, elderly individuals, youth, and racialized communities are more susceptible.

According to the Poverty Hub, the “racialization of poverty is the idea that visible minorities and Indigenous people in Canada experience poverty at greater rates due to structural factors related to race in society. As of 2016 Census Data, visible minorities in Calgary were 33% more likely to be low-income…[and] individuals of Aboriginal identity in Calgary were more than twice as likely to be low-income based. In general, Calgary’s population of low-income individuals has shown a tendency to be increasingly composed of racialized individuals.”

Poverty and racism are linked. As we practice anti-racist behaviours and implement anti-racist policies, we will inevitably positively affect poverty reduction in our city.

Anti-racism is a life-long practice and we’re bound to get things wrong sometimes. Were you ever told as a kid that you can’t control what others do, but you can control your attitude and how you react? The sentiment is really something to marinate on. When we’re called out, which inevitably we all will be at some point, there are two divergent paths: 1) be offended and close down, or 2) accept that being called out is part of the process. Being called out doesn’t have to be negative, it can be the moment to reflect on how you’re being called to be better, to grow, and to help build a more equitable future for all.

Being active allies takes consistent work and it’s up to people and organizations who hold privilege to take an active role in taking responsibility in supporting marginalized groups. It means showing up consistently and taking a critical look at our individual attitudes and the systems that we’ve created that are not benefitting all groups equally.

We do not live in a zero-sum world; elevating others lifts everyone. There can be enough for all.

A few reading recommendations

Additional resources to get you thinking

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