Why should people care?
There is too much at risk for people not to care about these silences and erasures. When racism and sexism might be salient to deaths and violence against women and girls, we need to know. This crucial information helps us make sense of our communities’ tragedies. Without this knowledge, it is difficult to see repeating patterns and systemic incidents such as the missing women in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, the Highway of Tears where hundreds of women have been murdered or gone missing, the Montreal Massacre, and hundreds of individual incidents, like Amanda, Reena and Kimberly all across Canada.
Remaining mute helps to conceal the magnitude and multiple facets of systemic violence directed against particular groups in our society. This makes positive change harder to achieve. By misnaming or misrecognizing racialized and gendered violence as bullying, public attention to violence may diminish or be redirected away from gender based, anti-violence programs in multiple community settings, and into neutral, universal, school based, anti-bullying programs that serve some, but will continue to fail those most vulnerable, especially girls, from minoritized communities who increasingly constitute the growing multicultural and Indigenous student population in urban schools. Desperately needed funding for gender based violence prevention and treatment programs will dry up. We cannot let this happen.
We need to stand up and name violence for what it is. We need to refuse to use language that minimizes the severity of violence in our lives.
We need this information because it helps build connections and support. We need it to formulate strategic actions to change negative conditions that feed violence.
What can you do?
You do not have to share experiences of victimization to help. All you need to do is to speak out and to stand up against violence against girls and women. You can join in making a public space for supporting people of all genders and ages from minority communities experiencing harassment and violence. antidote will be holding several activities in the coming weeks to commemorate all victims of racialized and sexualized violence from our communities. We hope you will join us to celebrate strength, resistance, and community.
Jo-Anne Lee, President, antidote Network for Multiracial and Indigenous Girls and Women, Victoria BC