08/02/2015 09:40 EDT | Updated 08/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Recognizing Black Lives Matter is Just the Beginning

Centre Daily Times via Getty Images
Penn State student Zaniya Joe wears a piece of tape over her mouth that says 'Black Lives Matter' during a Ferguson protest organized by a group of Penn State University students on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in University Park, Pa. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)

Another day goes by, another name added to the list.

Andrew Loku. Jermaine Carby. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. The list goes on and on. And on.

It's unfortunate that your name, your brother or sister's name, or my name could be on that list as fast as a blink of an eye. Or the time it takes to take one quick (last) breath.

Black lives matter.

Yes, our basic human right to live matters. The fact that our pigmentation is a target of death and destruction is a crime against humanity. We are in the midst of one of the world's longest -- and visible -- genocides.

But what happens when we are no longer just treated like raccoons? The omnipresent pest of city streets, devoid of human dignity, one to be exterminated and only recognized upon our untimely deaths?

Is that all we're asking for? To be treated like human beings? If that were the case, the whitesplainers in the house would postulate that that happened back in 1834 with the end of slavery in Canada. We are all brothers and sisters, they would say. We all belong to one "human race," they would continue. Then they would flee the city in their birkenstocks every Caribana weekend as the Lakeshore in Toronto becomes a police state.

And this is the difficulty with the black power movement of the new millennium in Canada.

We are fighting for our humanity; however, we are also fighting to be the best we can be as Canadians in Canada.

There are almost a million of us in Canada. The majority of us millennials were born here. We're highly educated. We're socially mobile. We're engaged. Our segmented and hyphenated identities allow us to navigate worlds that the white mainstream could only dream of (or attempt to culturally appropriate).

We are the future.

So why this resistance to allow us to be the best that we can be? Where is this pursuit of equitable excellence where a black person with a PhD (or law degree, or medical degree, or MBA, or artistic talent, or entrepreneurial skills, or athletic ability), can walk down Bay St. or across Queen's Park or up Parliament Hill, and genuinely have a fair shot of becoming the next power player in this game we call life?

Let's face it:

Until we're at the top of the food chain, calling the political and economic shots, nothing is ever going to change.

Black lives matter, yes. But until the people we vote for, pay taxes to, and get our internet from, look like us, we will never matter to them.


"Black Lives Matter" March