By Chloe Milenk Oct 27 2020
The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 in a response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. It is a global organization stretching across Canada, UK, and US. The main goal of this movement is to eliminate white supremacy, and grow strength locally to put a halt to violence levied upon black communities. By taking a stand against violence, finding ways for Black expression and development, we are victorious in advancement in our lives.
We will now hear from a black woman in Canada for 20 plus years now. Her name is Veronica Milenk originally from Jamaica.
As a black woman in Canada. What is your personal view on black lives matter movement?
I think the movement is long overdue. I think the lives of persons of color do matter, and I think the movement has brought in desires to equal opportunity for every person of color. The riots that have been going on have been demonstrated as protests, in a response to George Floyd’s murder. Taking a stand against injustice toward people of color, and people that have been discriminated or profiled or murdered because of their skin color or sexual orientation.
Describe your experience growing up as a black girl.
My experience of growing up as a young black girl was back in the early seventies. Racial discrimination was prominent because I grew up in the north of England. The
discrimination was done in such a subtle way because it basically focused on your social status within class. Racially profiled because of the type of school that you went to, and the education that you got. Yes, there was discrimination. I remember always being picked because of my height and the speed but that was not my first choice of what I wanted to do. Being socially active in the community where I grew up, I had to pick social areas that I could actually go to, where it was an all-black social club. There were no mixed interracial clubs.
Do you support the black lives matter movement? If so, what have you done?
I do support black lives matter and all I've done because George died and it only took nine minutes for all of this to take place. And then his life was taken. It’s a good reminder to pick 9 things that you yourself can change within political or civil or even just things within you. Myself, what I've done started within my life. I started writing down nine things that I wish to work on for myself. Nine things that I'm focusing on in the community. I want to see change.
Do you have a list of those 9 things?
To educate the youth that you are discriminated upon and you are judged upon how your skin color. Even socially, what you wear is judged. I choose not to judge people on how they dress or look.
I choose being compassionate to people.
To not judge homeless people.
To not be silent when there is discrimination happening.
To include all people of disability and ethnic color and age group as well as age.
Recognize that the neighborhood I live in doesn't mean that everybody has to like me
Reach out to people in my community. Reaching out means connecting and collecting people in my community and reaching out to them talking to them.
Set up a community garden and offer some of my produce to people in the community. When the produce grows, I just leave a table out and people can just help themselves.
Know that I have a voice politically and when people want to ask for my interview because I am a person of color, I decide to voice that in a professional manner.
Have you personally felt discriminated against because of the color of your skin?
Yes, I feel discriminated because of the color of my skin. Because of my skin color, I have trained myself even when I'm around the house or going out, to dress in a work-professional manner. Not in a two-piece suit, but clean, tidy, and dressy. People comment, “you always look so nice” and it's not because of choice. It's because of my skin color. It’s because of white people's past comments, saying that they expect you, a person of color, to have a certain appearance. When they see that I don't have that particular appearance in dress code, I feel I that I built bridge that makes me approachable.
Speak on having mixed children. Did you ever have concerns about this?
I never used to have concerns because I trained and educated my husband on what it was like to be a black woman in a community. Over the years he has seen some examples of discrimination. When looking for housing, I've never been able to get housing because of my skin color in an urban
community. Not too long ago I went to a doctor. I had an injury in the early days of the covid-19 quarantine. She was very suspicious that I had covid-19, even though I had already seen four other MD’s and nobody came across that. She then asked if it would be possible instead of leaving through the front door, to go through the back door and leave the area. I got into the truck with my husband and he told me that he couldn’t believe had just been said. I told him that it was an example of what it feels like to be a woman of color and that is what children of interracial relationships will also experience. You just have to realize that it is there and our children, I'm hoping, will recognize that it's a better world that they are living in. We’re not living in a time where there is huge civil unrest and they are able to socially climb up the ladder because of education. They can open some doors, but not all doors.
Many believe black lives matter encourages violence. Do you agree or disagree with this? Why or why not?
I don't believe black lives matter encourages violence. They are being violent because they're tired of the Injustice and the profiling and the murders of people of color. You’ve got to understand that you're dealing with white people that have been trained to not be disturbed by what is important. And what is important is that people are being profiled and people are being murdered. People of color, and white people, need to have a voice and to say we need to stop this Injustice. The fact that you have to even ask the question, does the Black lives matter movement encourage violence, is proof that we still haven't got the message across yet.
Address your view on black on black violence.
Anybody can be violent to other ethnic people. That's just the way mankind is. I don't believe in it. I don't think it’s a healthy way to protest your violence towards another brother or sister. It's something that black people have learnt to do, and you see in this songs/raps because their process of growing up in a good environment was taken away. Why was it taken away? Because when people come out of losing their civil rights, and they don't have proper and adequate education and food they’re going to turn on each other.
How do you feel about black lives matter suggesting to defund the police?
I don't think that's a good idea to de-fund the police. We do need the police. I think they do require a better training. What's important is that we need to speak on what we actually believe. We need to have better political leaders to be able to advocate in government and better overall training for the police as well.
How to prepare the misjustice of the police systems.
We need more moral leaders in this country. We need to write down things that we want to see change. We need to have change in the political leaders. If we stand there and watch a puppy being trampled on, kicked and beaten we would get really upset. We would want some justice for that. We need to have the same moral compass for people of color as well.
How do you feel about the BLM movement protests today?
The protests taking place today are like a bottleneck that has been building up for a long. It was inevitable that it was going to happen because they've been segregated and oppressed for so long and still are being denied their civil rights.