I was vilified for telling the truth about racism in Toronto: Yusra Khogali 

In her own words:

As the movement gained traction, I became increasingly visible and increasingly the target of those who oppose our cause. Jerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist with a long, well-documented record of enmity to our anti-racist goals, attempted to use my visibility to discredit me. A day after the conclusion of #BLMTOtentcity, he cited the aforementioned tweet in an attempt to delegitimize an entire movement, and to position my community as undeserving of justice.

I am not a public official. I am not a police officer. The state does not entrust me with violent weaponry. I have never contributed to the mass targeting of a community. All I have done is used a turn of phrase, a rhetorical flourish, to voice my frustration and dared to be a person calling for justice.

To date, I have directly received many disturbing death threats from white supremacists across the country. Somehow a tweet I wrote out of anger months before our protest began has become a bigger media story than our protest’s many and profound accomplishments. The noise surrounding this tweet has also drowned out the discussion we sought to spark about the black lives of those who have died at the guns of police in this country. Journalists have incessantly harassed me, desperate to get a comment on the tweet. Where were they during the entire two weeks of #BLMTOtentcity? The media is part and parcel of how anti-black racism works. Too often black people are ignored or vilified when we speak the truth about our condition.

To be black in Toronto is to have been or know somebody who has been brutalized, violated or battered by the Toronto police. Our lives are plagued by institutional and individual anti-black racism that compromises our access to safety, economic freedom, proper health care, food, housing, employment, education and culturally restorative support services. To be black in this city is to fight to survive.

Mayor John Tory responded to reports of my tweet less than 24 hours after they emerged. Yet for the more than two weeks black people fought for our humanity in protest outside of police headquarters, he ignored us. That is something everyone in this city should be concerned about. Despite all the violence we endure when we resist, we can never lose sight of the issues; we must continue to seek justice and accountability for our community. We only have more work to do, and this is only the beginning. Black lives matter, here as everywhere, and they always will.

Words and turns of phrase matter. Being in the political arena and pushing for change means greater care in language in order to gain support in the broader community.
A better approach would have been a simple apology for her words, rather than politician-style avoidance, to allow discussion to move on to valid substantive issues she raises.

Source: I was vilified for telling the truth about racism in Toronto | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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