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Canada's institutional Left should follow its own advice on how to fight racism and sexism

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Image: Facebook/Broadbent Institute

On the heels of Trump's election to the White House, the Broadbent Institute posted an article on its blog titled: "Whiteness trouble: The Left's challenge after Trump."

While the article made a positive effort in recognizing the racism and sexism that underpinned Trump's campaign and detailing how progressives in Canada need to tackle racism and sexism if we hope to win, it fell short of one key question: what steps will the Broadbent Institute, as one of Canada's leading progressive think tank and advocacy organization, take to address the issues laid out in the article?

The article boldly states that "It is now undeniable that we white progressives must dispense with mythologies about cosmopolitan diversity, inclusion and meritocracy in a de-racialized and plural America (or Canada). It's time to question the tunes of the liberal universalist songbook we've sung from for decades." So what different tune, I'm prompted to ask, is the Broadbent Institute offering to sing?

As a progressive queer, racialized woman, Trump's election affects me directly. The recent acts of hate/racism against various religious institutions around Ottawa are symptomatic of the kind of society Trump has marketed throughout his Presidential election. Indeed, his influence north of the border is inevitable.

And it's not just Trump. His entire administration is a threat. His vice-president is an advocate for conversion therapy. His chief strategist runs a white supremacist website.

So, what's next? What now? How can we, as progressives, band together and combat this overt racism? But more importantly, what will progressive organizations and parties like the Broadbent Institute and the NDP do?

To bring current systemic issues to light we need a concerted effort to bring the voices of marginalized communities across Canada to the forefront.

The Broadbent Institute held its progress gala at the end of November. While it no doubt garnered the attention of many progressives across Canada, it was no surprise that the presence of marginalized voices was minimal.

One of the voices that the gala featured was that of Van Jones, a former Obama appointee and Black liberal commentator from CNN. While some may view his presence as an effort to bring marginalized voices to the gala, what about visible minorities here in Canada? Was this truly an effort to bring marginalized voices forward? Or is this once again an effort made with good intentions that ultimately results in tokenization?

With ticket prices upwards of $150, only progressives privileged enough to be able to afford the gala could attend.

Though these galas and conferences are being held to bring progressive voices together in one room, the money raised ought to be used to reach out to the various marginalized communities that live in poverty across Canada. Or those who continue to be targeted by carding or racially profiling on a daily basis. Or those who are ousted from their employment because of the way they look. Or those who are even denied of employment in the first place.

Broadbent could hold town halls and go into communities to speak with those who are directly affected. There are groups like Black Lives Matter that are doing tremendous work in campaigning against violence and systemic racism experienced by Black people. Such an organization on the ground that speaks to community members affected daily should be the voice at the forefront. Progressive political parties like the NDP could assist in reaching out into the community via something as simple as door-to-door discussions by parliamentarians in their respective ridings.

Further bolstering and supporting the Institute's own idea that "how white supremacy will or will not be challenged on the institutional Left -- in progressive movements, political parties, unions, the academy, etc. -- is pivotal to whether the Left will be able to counter Trump and the whiteness he represents with a broad and diverse Left coalition."

Let's put away our laptops and computers for a moment and get back to our activist roots. This is an opportunity for the Broadbent Institute and the NDP to do some grassroots activist work that could greatly impact the lives of people like me.

Let's not miss this chance to build a community and bring progressives together regardless of their personal income. Until the number of zeroes on your pay cheque doesn't determine your access to an event, what progressive voices are we truly promoting?

D'Luxe Brown is an activist based in Ontario. A DJ by night, she is interested in anti-racism, anti-poverty, queer liberation and justice for all.

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Image: Facebook/Broadbent Institute

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