Kelowna woman said more black voices needed at Kelowna BLM

'A white-saviour complex '

Reena Ahir says there needs to be more black voices at future Black Lives Matter rallies in the Okanagan.

Ahir said she believes organizers of the Kelowna rally held Friday at Stuart Park had good intentions, but missed the mark.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the space for speakers was occupied by non-black individuals,” she said in a letter to Castanet. “This is unlike many of the BLM protests that have happened across the country where it is ensured that the organization and speakers consist of only black individuals.”

Ahir noted other groups stated they would not attend the rally that attracted hundreds of people because of what she said was “the organizers’ dismissive attitudes when they were critiqued for the planning of this rally."

A group representing African American and Caribbean students at UBCO boycotted the BLM rally.

Officials with the Afro-Caribbean Student Club said it "cannot condone a programme that does not take precedence of black voices," in a letter posted on social media.

Leadership of the group claim the rally had been planned by a predominantly non-black group, and only after it was organized were black leaders in the community involved.

"Those with expressed concerns were told to leave," the letter stated.

Kermisha Pereira, one of the rally organizers, took issue with the assertion made by officials of the club, saying it's ludicrous to spread false information that the rally is not run by black people.

"I am black, multiple people in this group are black, you guys don't speak for everyone just like we don't speak for everyone," she posted.

Ahir too was critical of the rally that was held in solidarity with groups across North America protesting the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

“Rather than speak of systematic oppression and racism that is faced by black individuals globally, the dialogue seemed to encompass a white-saviour complex and there were many problematic statements made as a result of lack of moderation in regard to speakers statements that would be broadcasted.”

Ahir said organizers of future events should ensure rallies are for the very people organizers are supporting.

“As a person of colour, I’m telling you this is crucial to do so. We must all work together to help end colonial oppression by working with the organizations within our communities who know best in regard to what is needed at this moment,” she said. “Minority voices matter and must be heard which is the crux of this movement.”

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