Anti-Racism Virtual Town Hall | August 12, 2020 | Calgary Arts Development

Okay, so I think we’ll get started because, as always, there’s a lot of really rich discussion and material that we want to get through today So, for those of you I may have not met in the past, my name is Patti Pon, I’m the President & CEO for Calgary Arts Development and it’s just a real honour and a privilege to get to be in this role, and many thanks to all of you for joining us today, um today, which is our fourth anti-racism town hall Today, we’re very excited to have some really special guests who are joining us to share their knowledge and their experience. And before we get started, I want to call upon my colleague, Melissa, to go over details about today’s gathering Hello everybody and welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. I have a few things just to share for housekeeping for the event today You’ll notice that we have two ASL interpreters with us today, Janice and Kimberley. In order to ensure that the interpreters and the active speakers are visible throughout this event, if you are not speaking, we do ask that you have your cameras off as much as we’d like to visibly share the space with you. But this just ensures that those interpreters are as visible as possible on the screen If you click the top menu of your own video’s three dots and select hide non-video participants, this will ensure that both the interpreters and the speakers are visible in either grid or speaker view, and they will turn their cameras on and off as they switch. You can still pin a video to your main screen through the main menu. There will be a presentation shared at one point, so you can use the menu on the top right of your screen as well to switch the presentation and the speaker split screens and then pin that interpreter as needed We have our friend Marc running the event for us today. If you have any technical issues or questions, you can privately chat with him. I believe he has changed his name to CADA Tech – Marc Lavalee. So thank you very much, Marc, for that We are also using a transcription service called otter.ai, and that it will be on the red box on the top of your screen if you’d like to use it to bring the closed captions on to your screen. Unfortunately is only in English for the time being and it is not 100% accurate, but it can be used to follow along with today’s conversation. We are recording this meeting for future reference and to share with folks who couldn’t make this time work And that recording will be available on our website in the next couple of weeks here It will be included with an accurate transcription as well We will not share any of the private chats in the recordings that we upload to our website We know that occasionally Zoom does updates and there is a small possibility that when we download the chat for the transcription, we may be able to see your private chats So just please bear that in mind. If you have joined us before, you’ll know that Calgary Arts Development uses group agreements to set shared expectations and a commitment to safety and to bravery in the spaces that we occupy together Those agreements can be found in the instructions document that we’ll post in this chat here But for today, we would actually like to share another set of guidelines. These guidelines for accountable spaces have been developed by the CommunityWise Anti-Racist Organizational Change working group. And we’d like to focus on those today and a link to those guidelines are also going to be posted in the chat. So I will just read them out now Share the space. Be mindful of your speaking time. Make space for others to speak and avoid interrupting others For remote formats, if we agree to have cameras on, please have your camera available for the duration of the meeting. As I said today, today we have agreed to have our cameras off if we’re not speaking, so those interpreters can be visible Please keep your mics on mute when you’re not speaking, but feel free to share a reaction

in the chat. If the moderator is open to questions at that time, please raise your hand in the chat Understand that individuals experience racism in different ways Recognize that each experience and viewpoint is valid, even if they differ. Validate experiences rather than lecturing or giving advice Consider that you do not need to agree with a perspective in order to understand it Speak for yourself. Use “I” language Don’t speak for others and don’t share someone else’s stories or experiences Notice your own biases and judgments and avoid making assumptions about other people Examine your own privilege and be aware of potential power dynamics that you might contribute to within a space Recognize that we are all in a place of learning If you say something problematic, apologize, listen to the voices of others, and then learn and adjust your behavior Be open to calling in harmful attitudes, as well as being open to critical self-reflection If an individual tells you that something you said was harmful to them, listen. Use these situations, not to harass or call out, but as a learning experience Take care of yourself, think of someone you trust whom you can debrief with and plan to contact them. It’s okay if you need to leave the room at any time and facilitators are available for follow up conversation I believe a link to those have been posted in the chat box for your reference as well In addition to these accountable spaces guidelines, I want to also state that we as Calgary Arts Development recognize that asking people to share in this space is a request that requires significant emotional labour and vulnerability And we also commit to the promise that there will be no retribution against people for the stories and perspectives that they share And I ask that all participants who are in this space with us today, commit to the same thing Any participants who use harmful or disrespectful language, or who are actively disregarding the group agreements or the accountable space guidelines will be asked to leave the town hall. If they choose not to leave, they will be removed I’d like to invite Taylor Poitras, who is supporting today’s town hall as an active bystander to just say a couple of words about her role in the space, and she will be available by private chat. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or if you see that a participant is using harmful or offensive language. So Taylor, if you want to introduce yourself, that would be great Thanks, Melissa. Hi everyone. Welcome. My name is Taylor Poitras. You can find me in the participant’s chat box if you just search for “Taylor”, or I’ve also put “Active Bystander” in my title, so if you search “Active, Taylor, CADA”, you’ll be able to find me You can private message me at any point. I’ll be actively monitoring the chat, as well as the video and audio interactions that are occurring. I won’t be able to see private chats though. So, if there’s something going on privately that you’d like to bring forth that is maybe going against these accountable space guidelines or group agreements, please bring it to my attention and I will act on that immediately. So yes, if you have any questions, you can also message me privately Thank you for coming Hello again, we will be opening the floor for questions after our invited guests speak to get the conversation going and we do hope to hear from as many of you as possible today So if you would like to speak, or ask a question at any point, when we do open the floor, you can open the participants list at the bottom of your screen and click the raise hand button, and we will add you to the list of folks who have their hands raised You may also indicate in the chat with any questions that you would like to share. My colleague, Gregory Burbidge, will be collecting those questions and those raised hands, so if there is anything that you would like to ask, or share that you would like to be anonymous, you can privately chat with him, and he will put those questions in the Google Doc, that we’ll be looking at without your name included, so that is also an option available When you speak, please clearly state your name and pause really briefly before speaking so that the interpreters can catch up with that. And people can have, find time to find your screen if needed. If your Zoom username is different than the name that you introduce yourself by, please use the menu function to update your name so it’s easier to find

you as well, using that three dot menu on the top of your screen. If you would like to also share your pronouns, that would be wonderful So as I mentioned, CADA staff is available throughout. If you have any questions or challenges If you have questions with the technology or the accessibility, Marc—CADA Tech Marc or myself will be available. Taylor Poitras is available for any questions or concerns you might have, and please share any questions with Gregory Burbidge. That’s it for me, I will jump this back to Patti Pon. Thank you Thanks very much, Melissa and Taylor and team As I’m sure you can imagine, this is no small feat for our team to to undertake every two weeks, but I think I find that it is so timely and important to us and in particular, and I’ll make a couple of comments about it at the end of our time today, as we see the circumstances arising around the Pink Flamingo’s Black Lives Matter mural project Now more than ever we need to ensure that we are finding ways to have conversation, to find language that we all understand, and more importantly to understand where we are, and who we are, with our own like hearts and like minds. So again I would repeat what you’ve heard from Melissa and Taylor. This is a space that we want to create that is a brave space, and where you feel safe in having this conversation And if you don’t, please reach out to one of our CADA teammates, and you’ll see them in the participants list, they all have CADA prefaced in front of their name. And please let us know You know one of the things in this, notwithstanding CADA’s holding this space, I asked that all of you also hold this space and take care of each other. Let’s be kind to each other We really need that right now. I really need that right now. So thank you for that, and thanks for again coming As always, before we begin our formal proceedings, not even before, as part of our formal proceedings, I want to acknowledge that where I’m speaking with you from is the ancestral territory and home of the people of Treaty 7. The Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Blackfoot People, the Niitsitapi, which is the Siksika, the Piikani and the Kainai First Nations. We also honor the Tsuut’ina people, and also the Stoney-Nakoda people comprised of the Bearspaw, Wesley and Chiniki First Nations, and of course the Métis people of Alberta Region 3 Always with, when I have the opportunity to give acknowledgement, it is exactly that It is about acknowledging. It is about making sure that people know that I see you and I hear you. And I know from where you come, I know from where I come, and who I have to honor in terms of taking care of this place, so that all of us can call this area, Mohkinstsis, home. It’s a very special gift that we get to live here. And I think that right now in these times, sometimes we take that for granted And we take for granted all of the people who live on this land who call this place home. And so today I deliver the acknowledgement in recognition of wanting you all to know that I hear you, and I see you. And I look forward to the conversation that we will have today And so on that note, today, we have three guests with us who are going to share with us and focus their comments around the current work that is happening in Calgary to build the capacity of organizations and communities to undertake and deepen anti-racism initiatives They are from AROC’s Black Caucus and ActionDignity We’ve asked our guests to speak with us about the work they’re doing to share important learnings and to discuss what they see as opportunities and challenges in deepening and expanding this work in Calgary. They’re also going to touch on what allyship and accomplice

look like and how the current movements and initiatives that are present here might be supported So, the three guests that we will have speaking with us are Tyra Erskine, MelVeeX and Beni Johnson. And just for the benefit of our speakers that’s the order that I will call upon you on, and I will preface your speaking with your bios So I’m going to start with Tyra. Tyra Erskine is an experienced anti-racism facilitator and has hosted trainings at SAIT, GenYYC, AAISA, Camp fYrefly, Calgary Pride and the Calgary Women’s March. In addition to these trainings, she has also developed online content, including an online self-paced anti-discrimination course, and also a series of webinars on the intersection of racism and COVID-19. Currently, she works at ActionDignity as the program coordinator for the People’s Coalition to Advance Fairness and Equity. She is also a Board Member for CommunityWise Resource Centre, and is also a member of AROC and the Black Caucus. She authored the AROC anti-racism training manual The Black Caucus is a group out of the CommunityWise Resource Centre that provides a space for Black anti-racism organizers and facilitators to work together, develop resources, and host trainings on addressing anti-Black racism Please welcome Tyra Hey everyone, thank you for having me. So I’m just going to share my screen. I have a PowerPoint So first off, I just want to talk a bit about ActionDignity. So ActionDignity is a community-based organization that facilitates the collective voice of Calgary’s ethnocultural communities towards full civic participation and integration through collaborative action. And ActionDignity embraces and promotes the following values: Respect for diversity, equity and social justice; active citizenship; and democratic participation and collaboration And here are a, here’s a list of the programs that we have at ActionDignity. So I won’t read them out, all out because there is a lot. But more information on this can be found on our website. So essentially, we have different programs relating to building leadership skills for ethnocultural community members, youth programs for equity, and also we have our new project that is called the Black Project, which is a specific program for Black youth in the city And now I want to talk just a bit about my program. So my program is the People’s Coalition to Advance Fairness and Equity. And the main focus of this program is to build local skills, knowledge, and networks that can collectively impact discrimination prevention and increased equality in the province Also don’t mind the cat meowing in the background He’s being annoying, so just bear with me And so this project includes a lot of collaboration to build equity, challenge human rights, or advocate for human rights, and just make sure that people in the community are safe and supported

And I just want to give a couple of achievements that I’ve had in my program. So, the poster on the left is from the Black Intersections event in February, 2020. And so this was an opportunity for diverse members of the Black community to come together and just talk about the different experiences that they have And the one in the middle is from the equity in the 2019 Federal election, which was also about intersectionality, but wasn’t specific to the Black community, but rather included people from different equity-seeking groups And then the last one is the Black Intersectionality panel which was from February 2019, and was very similar to the Black Intersections event that I spoke about And another achievement is the launch of the Alberta response model for hate incidents And essentially this is just like a resource and a website on what to do when hate happens in the city and the ways that we can respond to hate based on the different protected grounds within the Alberta Human Rights Act And then on the right is information on an online course that I’m teaching through AAISA, which is the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, and more information on this and then the upcoming courses can be found on the AAISA website And now I want to talk a bit about how we actually apply anti-racism, because there are a lot of programs and there’s a lot of organizations in the city that do anti-racism work. And I just want to elaborate on what that means So on the left is an image and this is from Mia Mingus. And this is about the four parts to accountability And so earlier we went through the accountable spaces guidelines. But it’s important to know what accountability actually means and how to actually do accountability. So part of that is about self reflection. Having a good apology. Being open to repair a relationship And also making sure that it ends with changed behavior So I just want to read out this quote at the end. So it says that, “True accountability is not only apologizing, understanding the impact your actions have caused on yourself and others, making amends or reparations to the harmed parties; but most importantly, true accountability is changing your behavior, so that the harm, violence and abuse does not happen again.” And I also want to share this image on the right. So that says, “Another possibility, check in with yourself about what you have access to, what you want to contribute, where and how to make a decision and see what happens next, and respond, according to what is in integrity with you.” And I think that at the root of accountability is just having integrity, and making sure that the way that we approach life, and the way that we approach anti-racism is in a way that will make us be able to sleep at night, and be happy with the decisions that we’ve

made towards others and towards our community And so now I just wanted to talk a bit about the difference between being an ally and being an accomplice. And so the image on the right says, “Just because you think something doesn’t affect you personally doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care.” And then there’s a quote on the left from Colleen Clemens. And so this says, “An ally will mostly engage in activism by standing with an individual or group in a marginalized community. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group, and such work will be directed by the stakeholders in the marginalized group.” And so I think this relates back to the previous slide on accountability. Because the difference here is that an accomplice is actually listening to the group, and is actually taking their direction on what they want to happen. And that’s not to say that accomplices never make mistakes, but it’s rather just that when they do make mistakes, they own up to them and they make sure that they changed the behaviour so that they never replicate that same mistake again And so I think that’s very important with anti-racism. Because people can’t know everything, and people can’t get things right 100% of the time. But what people can do is make sure that they react appropriately, and from a place of love and accountability and integrity, when someone tells them that something they did was harmful to them And so now I just want to go over some ways that we can sustain anti-racism in Calgary Because I think that we have anti-racism here, and we will often get some pots of funding to support anti-racism work, but then this never actually lasts because it’s not sustainable So we have to look into that and look into other ways that we can kind of approach this without it being only focused on funding So number one is obviously funding And then number two is having representation And so an example of this is that within the nonprofit sector, a lot of the leadership and board positions and organizations will be mostly filled by, like, white employees, but then the frontline, usually temporary staff is racialized. So we have to find a way to increase the representation of people that have decision making power within the organizations to make sure that there are more racialized people, and especially Black people, because I think the theme of this conversation is Black Lives Matter And number three is mental health supports So this work for racialized people within the sector is incredibly taxing. So we also have to make sure that people are doing okay emotionally, and that they have places that they can go to for support And number four is accompliceship and switching from allyship to people actually being accomplices And number five is having strategic plans and actually having like inclusivity plans

of any projects that you’re working on, and having certain questions that you need to answer before you can actually proceed with the project to make sure that all of your inclusivity goals are met Six is having more collaboration, and actually working together across groups, cuz there is strength in bringing multiple equity seeking groups together so that we can have more, um more reach, and so that we can kind of have a bigger impact And seven is just incorporating accountability into every stage of the process, and making sure that that is at the centre of everything that you’re doing And here are just a couple of books if you want to learn more. So the one on the left is The Skin We’re In. The one in the middle is Until We Are Free, and then the one on the right is Policing Black Lives. So if you want to learn more about anti-racism and also Black Lives Matter, and especially in Canada, I would recommend taking a look at all these books And here’s my contact information if you want to reach out to me. So my email is tyra.erskine@actiondignity.org And thank you. That’s the end of my presentation Thank you very much Tyra. That was really great and I appreciate the detail that you provided for us in your presentation. As we had indicated earlier, we’ll have time for questions at the end of the three presentations, so please be sure to put your messages or your questions in the chat box or let one of our CADA teammates know and they’ll be sure that we have the question ready and can ask I’d like to introduce our next guest, MelVee X. MelVee is a Queer Black woman multidisciplinary artist. Her primary means of expression are our spoken word poetry, burlesque performance and photography. It is MelVee’s life vision to empower marginalized people to tell their own stories from their perspectives Ms. X is proudly Black and incorporates Caribbean, African and Black American cultures prominently in her work. A love of Black and marginalized people is her guiding principle. The struggle is real, beautiful, unapologetic and never looked so damn good. MelVee is a member of the Black Caucus and AROC. Please welcome MelVee X Thank you so much, Patti for the, for the intro. It’s always so weird to be doing this and I don’t get to see people. I can’t hear your applause and I’m like, oh yeah this is the time to start to start sharing now So, as Patti said my name is MelVee X. My pronouns are she/her/they/them, and today I’m going to be sharing with you folks about some work that I’m doing in the community in regards to anti-racism work and I will be talking about accompliceship, as opposed to allyship and so I’m super excited to get into that. And if I’m like going over time or whatever, just please like shout at me and let me know, so that I don’t just steal away on the floor So, one of the projects that I’m currently working on right now is called Black Kid Joy and I will share the screen. I’ve got a couple of things to, to share in terms of this program So Black Kid Joy is, was a two-week program that was funded generously through CADA actually,

so big shout out while I’m here. And what Black Kid Joy’s seeking to accomplish is to have an artistic space where Black Youth could learn about Black culture and heritage through the arts. And so with a team of five artists, and we also had interpreters on our team, we got to share our experiences on many different facets of Blackness with the youth And so we look at the intersections of, of being Black, what does it mean to be a Black person. We also look at activism and the arts so how you can bring your artistic voice and expression to the arts and how the arts is a right vessel for exploring activism. We also looked at historical resistance to white supremacy in the form of Black communities, and how we express self-determination as Black people And one of the things that is so important to keep in mind with this program is that it was, it was proposed and created a year before the, the BLM protests that are happening now, and before the murder of George Floyd You know well before that I already saw a need to have a space that was for Black youth, because I know that I needed that space, when I was growing up here in Calgary where I was born and raised. And I did not have anyone to look up in terms of my art. I didn’t consider myself an artist until I was about 26 around there 26, 27 So that’s a really recent label for me to put on, because I was not supported, was not supported in the arts and so I thought to myself, okay, I’m at this point in my artistic practice, what is it that have to offer the world, what is it that that I really want to be a legacy moving forward and I realized what was the thing that I needed when I was a young person, I needed to connect with other with other Black youth. I needed to connect with other Black artists. I needed to know that that it was simply possible to express myself in in this way and not have to worry about censoring myself and to not have to worry about being too much or being too Black or, or anything like that and so I really wanted to, to get that to the Black youth, and I realized that this, like a program like this could easily be applied to adults as well. But in my opinion, the youth are some of the last last bits of hope I have in a lot of ways And, and I believe that it’s critical to, to reach, to reach them as young and as soon as possible. So, the youth range that we went for was 13 to 19. Most of the youth that we had were in the, you know, 14 to 17 range So they’re, you know they’re pretty aware, and they taught us as artists so much throughout the program and throughout our process as well And I also want to want to touch on why it’s so important to have spaces that are only for, that are only for Black people. When the, you know, the applications started to come in, there were some non-Black youth who wanted to be a part of the program, and I ultimately decided that that was not appropriate Because the program is really for Black youth to learn about themselves and not to be looked at as objects of learning which, which is a real pitfall that can happen too much, you know, in the, in the anti-racism realm, there’s this idea of exposing people to different cultures or different, different peoples to learn and I think a) talking about any human being is being exposed to is a gross metaphor and we’re not contagions that you need to have some kind of immunity against and it has, you know particular meaning in this time of the pandemic And so I really don’t believe that proximity to racialized people is going to make a white

person less racist, or it’s going to make non-Black people of colour any less anti-Black And so it’s, it’s, to me, I knew that this space needed to be a space where Black youth were safe to learn about themselves, to ask those questions that they wouldn’t necessarily feel free to ask in other spaces, which might be held by by non-Black people and white people as well And it was, it was an incredible, it was an incredible process to to oversee and we really had this two-week timeframe to work within an online format, which was pretty harr…, can be, was pretty harrowing at times, but that’s the reality that we have right now in terms of, you know, what we have to accommodate for the pandemic. And so we have this two-week time frame to really put as much care and knowledge as we could into educating the youth about not only the arts, but themselves as people And one of the biggest points of feedback that we got from the youth was actually that they wanted, they wanted more time; that they would have loved this program to be three weeks or longer. And so as a facilitator and as the program director that was was incredible to hear from them that this experience had touched them so much that actually what they needed was more time, not less in the program So there will be a showcase happening for Black Kid Joy. It’s difficult to get a venue right now because of the pandemic situation so we are looking at offering in person to a limited number of people and we’ll also be broadcasting it online as well, so that people will get the benefit of seeing the brilliance of youth, um the youth brought together in in the space of exploring who they are as Black people So that’s kind of one, one project that I’m working on and incredibly proud of, because it particularly began with an anti-racist approach of we’re going to find a way to address the specific issues of Black youth through teaching and and through learning and really being unapologetic about centering, centering ourselves because we know there’s so much of a need for that in terms of our in terms of space The next project that I want to touch on that I’m working on is a project called Black To The Future, and that is going to be more on the research side of things. So myself, and Jennifer Adams, who’s a professor at the University of Calgary, we’re going to be having this experience with young people and this is open to POC youth, so non-Black POC youth are also welcome to join us in this project. But it’s a way for Black youth to envision the future, and potentially what does, what does a future without white supremacy look like? One of the things that I feel as an artist that we bring very strongly to the table is an ability to envision and to hold space for imagining what this future could look like without oppression, without white supremacy, so that will be coming forth in the fall And we are looking for youth who are interested in being part of this research and part of this, this imagining And, and I also want to give a big, big up to my work with the Black Caucus, as a part of AROC and so I’ve been involved in that process from the beginning. And the Black Caucus where we’re potentially looking at another name for ourselves, but we are Black anti-racist advocates and educators and facilitators and we, we really look at our work together, as, as a way to specifically address anti-Blackness and to give that space and voice to Black facilitators in the realm of anti-racist education

And I will, I’m seeing some questions come up in the chat, so it’s hard for me to address and talk at the same time so I will, I will try to address that a little bit towards the end and I just don’t wanna lose my train of thought And so I’ve been in this AROC process on the Black Caucus for a while now, and we do, you know, various trainings in the community around facilitation, around anti-racism, and specifically, we talk about the issues that come up as Black facilitators. I don’t know if it’ll be raised in the town hall today, so I wanted to specifically for those who maybe aren’t as aware, to talk a little about anti-Black racism. And so what is anti-Black racism or anti-Blackness? It’s the particular hatred or discrimination and disdain of Black people in the society and it can be perpetuated by white people but also non-Black people of colour We see that in, you know, attitudes that that really denigrate Black people so the, you know, the widespread use of of skin whiteners being an example of that, not wanting to be any darker, any blacker, you know, as a primary driving force for using skin bleaching products And so we see anti-Blackness within that Also, the cultural appropriation that happens in society where so, so much of the contributions to popular culture particularly millennial youth culture has come from, from Black artists And so, too too often, what we see is non-Black people really profiting off of Black culture in a way that when as Black people we express our own culture, we are, we are demonized or were discriminated against for that One way that I can express that is wearing natural hairstyles, so there are, there’s a significant amount of companies who discriminate against the natural hairstyles of Black people like locks, braids, simply having the hair naturally that grows out of our heads. And, and part of the rationale for that is it’s not considered professional and I’m sure if some people could say it out loud, they would just say that it looks, that it looks ghetto or whatever. And to me, that is such a pertinent example of anti-Black racism that Black people styling our hair as, as we as we traditionally have done, or as a specific response to being pressured to assimilate to whiteness. We are denigrated or discriminated for it, but when non-Black people use those same hairstyles, they are seen as being trendy or being or being groundbreaking or trendsetting And so that anti-Black racism is really at all levels of society, and policy in the arts, in sports. It is prevalent in so many realms and so, just in case that didn’t get covered today I wanted to, want to make the space to talk specifically about, about anti-Black racism And I realized I don’t want to go over my time. That’s the last thing that I really want to touch on here is about accompliceship And this is something that I’ve been really pushing for for years and it’s, it’s kind of like a relief that that is starting to kind of catch on with people and sit with people Tyra did an excellent job of talking about accompliceship and allyship, and what I want to really add to that is that accompliceship is not, is not a label that a person wears for themselves in a way that that often is the case with allies. In my opinion, you cannot self-identify as an ally. If somebody is an advocate or accomplice for community, that’s something that the community, the equity-seeking community or marginalized community gets to choose for ourselves, it’s not for you to judge if you’re an ally to a community You may have that intention, but that is always for the community to decide if you are, if you’re standing with us, if you’re in solidarity with us. And accompliceship—the way that

I see it is it’s really that active dismantling part, it’s not simply getting to label oneself as an ally and share some memes, or you know share some things on social media and you’ve checked off your ally card. It doesn’t work like that. Accompliceship is actively looking to the leadership of racialized people in the community Tyra touched on this but I really want to, to, to signal boost this is positions of leadership and authority. That is one of the most, I think, critical ways to be dedicated to anti-racist advocacy and activism People of colour being in positions of authority and leadership is actually where we start to, we start to see those wheels turning, and it cannot be in a tokenizing way. Too often people of colour are selected for these positions of authority or leadership, it’s usually on the two extremes, because the organization believes that they want that change, and then what ends up happening is that person says things are wrong; and one of the metaphors for this is a Problem Woman of Colour. Then that person ends up becoming a problem because the structures actually weren’t in place, to, to bring a person of colour into a leadership role in that organization. Or, you get kind of that checkbox, that checkbox diversity where a person of colour is selected for leadership role because it looked different but they actually uphold those systems of white supremacy and they have the same views already as the people who are in those leadership positions And so when you’re embarking on, you know, the anti-racist change at institutional structural levels, it needs to be, it needs to be done in an intentional structure where you have that infrastructure in place um before before even thinking about having racialized people in those positions of power and and authority And so I, I do want to address, ah. Yes, so one thing I did mention about the program which is really critical is that it is for Black youth of all of all intersections and so, and also this was represented on the panel, or the, the artist team with myself being queer. So all of those intersectionalities of queerness, of ability, of the different ethnicities within Black, because Black is a racial group, but there are so many identities within being Black. And so, the program was really centered on whatever, wherever somebody is, wherever the youths are in their understanding of Blackness, we welcome that. Black Canadians, Black, well I guess if they were born in America, Black Americans, Afro Caribbean folks, and African youth as well and so it was really understanding that Blackness is that big, that big umbrella of experience So, if possible, I just want to briefly show the Black Kid Joy Facebook page and you can check us out there, we’ll be posting more about the showcase Bring that up. I hope I’m sharing it, okay Oops. Technology fun. Now I get to have my turn So the Black Kid Joy page is simply Black Kid Joy, on, on Facebook talks a little bit about the program. We have our pinned post and the artist team and you can learn more about us there and we’ll be updating this more as we get closer to the showcase which we’re hoping for in September, but the venue, the venue struggle is is real And then I wanted to show a little example of one of the learnings that we did. We did a specific learning, on, on Blackness so I won’t go through every slide, but just to just to give folks a sense of some of the learning that went on in this program. So looking at these key ideas and misconceptions about being Black, Blackness culture, what does it mean to be Black. We had a whole section, two lessons actually on intersectionality

because it’s such a big, big topic and there’s so many intersections within being Black We talked about why this is so important And just, you know, as you can see, really bringing that positivity into our understanding of Blackness and really giving the kids an opportunity to think about what does it mean to be Black, why do we capitalize the term Black when referring to a group of people And we got the kids to do different exercises around their own self, their own self expression, and about themselves so that they’re thinking about these things, because they will be integral to their, their experiences as people And one of the things that I want to kind of bring home as soon as my last point is a really big, a really big impetus for for making this specifically a youth program is the high rates of of mental illness and attempted or completed suicide for for Black youth It’s about four times higher than white youth And so we really really really wanted to find a way to, to start to address that mental health piece by empowering and to have the kids learning about their Black identity And so I’m going to stop. Stop that share Hopefully I didn’t go too over my time. I will drop my contact information on the chat, in case folks want to connect with me and learn more about what is going on in the arts, or on the AROC – Black Caucus Thank you so much, MelVee, for sharing with us today. I really appreciate that so much We have about half an hour and I’m going to welcome Beni to make his comments. And, and then at the end of his comments we’ll have a bit of time for Q&A. So again, just a reminder, please add your questions into the chat box or you can reach out to any member of the CADA team, and they’ll be happy to add it We’ve got a little document going live so when you see me looking over that’s what I’m looking at, just because we want to be sure that we capture all of the comments and questions So, Beni Johnson is a creative momentum maker and serial entrepreneur. For 10 plus years, he’s run his own graphic and web design studio, expanding recently to branding, marketing and music artists consultancy. He was awarded as Calgary, he was recognized as one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine for developing some of the most respected and unique cultural experiences throughout Alberta. He is most recognized for his work as founder of 10 at 10, Calgary’s premier hub for hip hop culture, music, Black entertainment and community As an artist, his original spoken word poetry piece was used to create ATB Financial’s award winning Amplify campaign. And as a rap artist, he toured Canada and performed at South by Southwest before taking his current hiatus. In his spare time, you can catch him on a basketball court, or being a mentor to young professionals He currently sits on the board of Music Calgary, and the Chinook Blast Subcommittee as a general advisor. 10 at 10 is the premier hip hop cultural events, entertainment and promotions agency that provides opportunity and unique experiences to evolve the cultural landscape. Since 2011, they have produced over 400 events, raised over $30,000 for various charities, grown an online community of 35,000 plus people, and helped notable international artists get their start. Thanks so much for being with us. Beni, over to you Thanks so much for having me guys. This’s been really, really cool. I want to thank Tyra and MelVee for their amazing and thorough work for the Black community. Both the presentations that I feel, you know was very very thorough work, and I encourage everyone in this chat definitely source the information that they brought to the table Yeah, I’m my biggest thing was, I have so much going on right now. I’m moving my condo and I’m moving my office, all in the next like 48 hours, so I’m all over the place but I figured it would be, you know, of value to just hop into this conversation and give people perspective, and you know, be an answer any questions that people do have on on my

side of the tracks I was born in Ghana, West Africa, but emigrated to Canada when I was just a baby and raised in the small town of Fort Mac. I moved to Calgary, you know 14 years ago About 13 years ago, we’ll just jump off there, I started doing work for all the different organizations and festivals and sounds, like Afrikadey, Carifest, and doing that kind of work and creating some of the biggest parties like Rewind, and even working on creating our award ceremony called Black Gold Awards and the Obsidian Awards, which we have to later change the name to because of a bit of pushback. But we can get into that a little bit later I found that as an artist, that there wasn’t a space for me to exist. In that lack of space, I created an event called 10 at 10. And 10 at 10 was to be a hub for hip hop culture, a place where, you know, artists can come together once a month and be themselves We started nine years ago, and at that time, as you can imagine, there wasn’t a place where, you know, Black artists, or hip hop artists, or rappers, or singers can come together in a club setting in a friendly environment where people would think that things wouldn’t happen like you know a shooting, or what have you So we created this artistic once a night actually on First Thursdays, which was an initiative like Art Central or the Glenbow, I believe And we did that at VooDoo Lounge, which is now just Theatre Grand. And that idea and that concept to provide space for artists to grow and find each other, you know predates social media being as rampant as it is now I mean at the time when we started, Facebook didn’t even have like photo albums. So if you can imagine that like trajectory of how long we’ve been kind of doing things on the ground to provide space for artists to feel respected, you know, get a little bit of visibility, and then, you know, get to experience, you know, hip hop culture From that showcase, we’ve grown into becoming curators for events. Whenever somebody would need that hip hop artist, or that singer, or that dancer, they would come to us and we would help provide them with that talent, which helped us get into pushing culture even further by creating our own events Being at both of the One Love Music Festival, doing productions in Edmonton with Red Bull, um creating basketball tournaments with Genesis Basketball, and just really pushing the idea of what people think Calgary represents. You know, often people look at Calgary and they say that it’s a cow town and it’s a cowboy town, that’s it’s whatever version of that I’m sure you all can familiarize with. So our entire thing was like, how do we grow this hub and push it into counterculture, evolving the scene that we have right here to, you know, encourage youth, and just people who come from all walks of life to feel like they actually belong here. Some of the stuff that we’re doing now since we began nine years ago is naturally you guys have all seen what’s happening with Black Lives Matter And when that first week was approaching, you guys started to see a bunch of different protests pop up. Now when I saw those protests pop up, the first thing that came to my mind was how do I bring everybody together. So, I reached out to all of those protest organizations and groups, and we had a four-hour Zoom conversation And all I was trying to provide was mentorship for all the protest planners, because I hadn’t seen any of them. They all seemed like brand-new people And from that happening, I was like okay something’s obviously gonna be happening. There’s gonna be a lot of this stuff that goes, that’s going to happen. And if something goes wrong, you know, it’s just gonna look like Black people don’t know how to organize, or they’re here for riots, or they are here for violence And none of that ended up happening. And I wanna, you know, thank, each one of those organizations who were doing that, but they were all youth, they were all, for the most part, 19 and 20 years old. Everybody older had a lot of, you know, resistance towards that idea. And it was in this process that I figured I could be a good voice for support and mentorship and a lens or like a highly visible lens, so that people can actually find out what was going on Because of our online following, we converted just focusing on like you know hip hop culture, and music, and we became the go to source for educating people about what was happening locally with all Black Lives Matter initiatives And when I say Black Lives Matter, I’m not talking about like some specific organization, I’m saying just the title of this movement right now that people seem the most comfortable with. Um but, again, just being that voice

that allows people to know what’s happening in the city, to have information, to get educated, to get better aware of how to engage, and how to become an ally, how to become an accomplice, and you know how to follow through on the ground And since that time as well, we’ve also grown our media side as well. And we’ve been working, developing our writers internally so that we can present, you know, a publication that can better represent some of the voices and the moment that’s happening right now, without talking about our own, you know, local media and the lack of being able to cover things, you know, properly. We just feel that there’s a need to do that so that’s what we’re, that’s what we’re doing So the other things we’re working on right now, you know, outside of the showcase and outside of event production because of COVID, is we’re launching a brand new office at the end of September; we were supposed to launch April 1, but obviously because of COVID we couldn’t. But inside there, we have and are creating a studio suited for music recording and space rental So, kids, young adults, professionals what have you can actually rent out the space, or they can get their music recorded there We’ve also created space for dance. So it’s not to compete or provide as much room as a big dance studio, but it is to provide opportunity for the young dancer that doesn’t necessarily have aspirations to compete in big competitions, or don’t really have a space to kind of just hang out and, you know, meet other dancers, that’s not part of some other bigger program So we just wanted to provide that kind of space for them We’re also launching a mentorship program for youth looking to get into the music industry and to the arts in general, and also for professionals to launch their careers. You know, a lot of the times you find that you know people can’t truly pursue their careers, from Calgary in the hip hop and R&B side. And, you know, we’re doing the work to try to make sure that that can happen, but we’ll speak on that later Um, and we’re also going to build on a speaker series. So, we have an amazing auditorium inside our new office as well, so we will be having tons of discussion forums about social issues, the music industry, but also like self-development And we feel that these tools are all very important tools in, you know, allowing, you know, artists, or just an individual to have, you know, an advantage and looking at how can they attempt to make their way through the very difficult way of representing themselves through Canada and just, you know, through Calgary as well I believe I have a unique lens, producing hip hop events. Hip hop is a culture, and the culture, you know, includes music. It has elements to it. Um, it was created by Black people, but experienced and contributed to by all. But often, when you think of hip hop, you get your stereotypes, and those stereotypes, you know, can be associated again with being Black, whether it’s going to be something that’s negative, that there’s violence All things that have been put there to, you know, marginalize the groups, Black people, people of colour. And our mission has been to kind of fight back against that. Hip hop’s beauty is that it helps get people identity, taking from the different samples of different Black culture and Black experience, you know whether you’re rapping, DJing, dancing, visual art, those are the main traditional elements of hip hop, but then that grew into things like entrepreneurship and fashion As a culture, it’s a vehicle for expression, you know, you have people that don’t know how to speak in public spaces, that don’t know how to skate or dunk a basketball, but they can play music very well and sequence it very nicely, or they can write down words in such a beautiful way, that now people want to pay attention to what they have on their mind. And it’s also the world’s best tool for exchange, you know you have people that don’t even speak the same language You know, I have immigrants that can’t speak or aren’t used to the culture here, but you can put on some music and they can dance to the same music, and they can learn moves just by following each other, doing those same moves. So, hip hop for me has been a vehicle for identity and success and you know being able to contribute to society in a positive way, and making sure that, you know, Black people who are within it, get the opportunity

to contribute. They continue to create in it, without it being appropriated and stolen, and you know diluted as part of, you know, an anti-racism effort The challenge is I really need people to love Black people like they love Black culture Um, pop music nowadays is hip hop. Hip hop is the biggest genre in North America as per the Rolling Stone in 2018. And what you end up seeing is even in places like Calgary, hip hop is not supported We have been doing things for nine years, And if today’s the first time that you’ve heard about that that’s perfectly fine, because we’re small and we can do a better job of pushing out our words and our message. But you know our show, our shows average, 300 to 400 people, and that’s without us talking about any of our concerts. And we’ve been doing the work for nine years. And we find that the opportunities that may be given to the arts or given to the music industry don’t come our way. You can think about some other like programs out there that you know give $150,000 away for certain artists, but they have to be of this specific genre, either indie, or country music Now, of course, we understand that radio is based on advertising and how many people are listening, but in that same conversation you can also push back and say that you have to create the viewership. If people knew that Calgary was playing hip hop on the radio, they would listen to it in the right kinds of ways, outside of one hour on Wednesday and one hour on Friday. Shout out to CJSW for having about six to eight programs on the radio station over the past 20 years, that’s supported local hip hop and national hip hop, but I’m talking about the general conversation that the entire northern hemisphere, western world looks at hip hop as the most powerful genre, but Calgary definitely sleeps on that opportunity and sleeps on the talent that lives in this city And you can base that on why that would be, not because that the music isn’t good. But because maybe necessarily they can’t familiarize with the roots and the people that are partaking in the culture Um, I want people to understand that there’s also another way of looking at hip hop and R&B, even saying just call it Black music Black music is everything from Jazz, to Rock ‘n’ Roll, to Country. But all of those things got taken away, and hip hop is definitely on a fast route to having a lot of that information, that same thing happening to it, because a lot of Black people aren’t put in position to be the representatives for that genre So, again, when you think of Calgary, I’m pretty sure a lot of people would struggle to find out who the rap artists in the city are, but I guarantee you, a lot of people could also identify who the indie rock stars are, who the folk stars are, who the country music stars are um and why that would be And that’s part of, you know, a smaller but larger conversation around, you know, the genre of hip hop culture Um, to broaden that lens, I do want to talk about other things that have come up like you’re talking about the Black experience Black is not a monolith, but it’s definitely something that needs to be identified. And I think that something even small like BIPOC, an acronym, is offensive. I think that Indigenous people are Indigenous people, I think people of colour are very ethnocentral, they have so many different, or ethnocultural. They have so many different, you know, diasporas, that I think actually speaking about them is part of how we reeducate people towards understanding the differences that we have, but also the commonalities that we’re one human race, but our nationalities are heritages They differ, and they’re worth recognizing and worth understanding Um, that’s, I think, a larger part of what it means when people don’t understand what’s happening when they’re appropriating something Um, well somebody had that same hairstyle they got their hair braided whatever and I know MelVee X she’s she touched on it. But appropriation is about, you know, not allowing people to do the exact same thing that you think is cool. So whether you’re at the workplace and somebody says that you can’t wear that hairstyle, but somebody who’s not Black wears that hairstyle and now they’re not, it’s a bad look for them. It was just recently in 20, I think, 2019 or 2017 that New York made

it a law that you can’t discriminate against somebody of colour, if their hair was different And it’s, this is what we’re talking about, from a standpoint, on the legality side, let alone societal, and how our current offices run. So, anyways I want to speed through I just want to kind of encourage people to, um, find interactive ways of getting educated You know, our education system, you know, has skipped a lot of information. But instead of talking about what was, it’s what can we do right in this moment. And I’d love for that to be an opportunity for people to have, you know, more accessible resources like the ones Tyra kind of brought up, and the programs that she’s working on, but videos, interviews It took us a lifetime to get here, whether you’re in your teens, 20s, 30s, and it’s not going to change in two days. It’s not going to change in three weeks. It’s not going to change in a semester It’s really going to take a couple years, a diploma, a degree worth of information for you to understand and to be a proper accomplice, and ally. And I think that’s the kind of work that we’re looking at doing. I think we need to pressure on rebuilding the educational system at the same time. So obviously speaking with the provincial government, but also teachers we know and principals. Principals have the power to do certain things in their schools Even though it’s not the full curriculum, they can still implement change and how people interact. Teachers we know as well have a certain amount of power within their classrooms to do certain things I think that when we program events we should just think about them being more diverse and having more of a diverse audience. When we’re looking at giving away some funding, um, think about including the people that have been doing the work but not just for a year, I’ve seen so many people get super excited about this moment. They’ve created brand new Instagram accounts and they’re hopping on the scene But when you look at their record, they weren’t even doing work for three weeks, six months, maybe a year. And I think getting people involved that have been doing it for three years, five years, 10 years is where the true, um, you know, type of like movements can be made, because they have so much insight that can really help avoid a lot of the missteps, and will truly bring the community together I think all it takes is for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing. And I think when we start to fill in holes in representation, whether it’s in music, dance or visual art, we can just say like hey we have a music programming program. But who’s representing jazz, who’s representing hip hop. And the same thing can be said for dancing The same thing can be said for visual art, and I know that the Pink Flamingo thing is going on right now. And a lot of people hit me up about what digital artists exist in the city And it’s not really one of those things that everybody was aware that there’s so many Black artists or not Black artists and I do believe that there’s more than just a dozen. And that’s part of their being like this kind of proactive way of finding and looking for digital artists on an ongoing basis, engaging communities, finding movers and shakers, and then also weeding out the opportunities, opportunists I think if you are in a position of leadership at work, looking for more representation in the workplace. You know, I had a company reach out to me and they said that they put out 100 resumes and not a single person of colour was in the pile and in interviews, and I was like well, is that based on how you are as a company, or where you’re looking for about to people to take the opportunity. And how are you representing your company to the city, and to the opportunities that are available, does somebody of colour think that they belong in a situation or an environment that you’re creating? I think that we can provide better funding for marginalized and Black groups and collectives that aren’t as they’re not necessarily nonprofits yet. I think a lot of that is a roadblock even for myself, we just did to do. We weren’t doing it for accolades. We weren’t doing it to do it as like some kind of association We were just doing it because we saw a need, and eventually we grew into being like, we got to be more business oriented, but there’s a lot of opportunities or funding that are present, but, you know, because we’re not a not-for-profit, we weren’t able to get grants for exact descriptions of things that we were doing. Um, and I think if there’s some kind of way that the granting process at least from CADA can look at it to say, okay, well, you guys are doing the work that’s necessary, so as part of you getting the grant, we will help you become a not-for-profit through this process, and whether that’s taking some of that funding to create, you know all this stuff for governance or not, or, you know, helping them by providing a mentor to walk

them through the process and making it be like some kind of one day consulting thing would be an amazing way to get way more companies, people collectives, ideas, immigrants, cultural entities into the fold of doing work together and making it more sustainable and ongoing I think we need to find and amplify more access to Black mental health, um, that’s a very very very big thing. When you’re talking about reliving traumas, talking about PTSD, in regards to how we’re treated on a day-to-day basis And I didn’t get any of that kind of stuff, because there’s plenty of evidence about Black trauma all over YouTube, all over the Internet if people still aren’t up to speed on what’s been happening But I digress. Um, and for anybody looking to get really really involved, and start bringing the community together for Black individuals is going to be a Black town hall this Friday And it’s going to be just for Black voices to all kind of voice some of their main concerns, and from that town hall, it’s about coming together with a bunch of different, you know, experiences and then finding over time how to independently tackle them, and then bring it in our allies and accomplices. So, that is some of the things that I think that we can do to address all that’s in front of us, so I hope I didn’t go too over my time. And, yeah Thanks so much Beni. Ah nope you did exactly the right time, because that’s the amount of time you needed to share your story and to share what you wanted to do. So, thank you so much for that. And thank all three of you, Tyra, MelVee, and Beni for taking this time with us I know that we have questions already. So again, me, the broken record if you’d like to put your question in the chat box, please do, or you can use the raise hand function, under the participants list. If you click on your bottom, the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the icons there and one of them says participants, you click on that you get a list of everybody who’s on this call, and you can hit the raise hand button. And we’ve got team members who are monitoring and keeping an eye out, so please feel free to do that I just want to give everybody an awareness of our time, it is currently 4:26. But as I just said, it’s important to me and to Calgary Arts Development that when we asked our guests to join us and share such important rich information that we give them the space and the time to do that, and the space and the time that they need in order to do that. So, you know, there’s no, you got 30 seconds, go. There’s none of that. But I want us to be sure we create the space and I want us to be sure that we hear what it is that people have to share, because again, as you just heard from these three individuals, we’re talking about voices that have not had a chance to be heard. So guess what, we’re going to make space for these voices to be heard. That’s what this town hall is gonna do So on that note, I recognize that some of you may have to leave our call at 4:30. But I would invite all of you who can to please stay on for 30 minutes more until five o’clock, where we can address and entertain any questions that any of you may have. So, before we hit our 4:30 mark, I just want to thank people very much for joining us. But again, know that we will stay on until five o’clock and I’m kind of throwing this surprising Tyra, Melvee and Beni on that. If the three of you are able to stay on, that’s fantastic and if you are not, that’s okay too. And if we have questions that are directed to you we’ll make sure to get them to you for a response, and then find a way that we can either share it on our website, or attach it to the recording that will be released within the next couple of weeks. So thank you all so much. And thanks to, thanks for those of you, Beni, I know you’re moving, so I completely understand And, and we’ll go from there So the first question that we have is from Wunmi. So, if I can throw it over to you to ask your question please Okay. Thank you so much for taking my question I hope you can hear me Yep Okay, so I’ve been asked a question about why there isn’t many other people who are non-Black that show up for our events—events that are supposed to uplift and highlight

Black arts, Black excellence. And I wanted to just touch on it, because I’m thinking, they might not be comfortable being in that space with other Black people These are people that they’ve not had interactions with. These are people that they don’t understand their culture, they don’t understand the nuances of who they are as a, as an identity. And it brings me to the production we host every year for Black History Month. And I do contact a lot of the arts organizations to inform them of the production so they can come, and these are arts organizations who are from the theatre, the visual arts, dance, and they don’t come. Some of them don’t even respond to my email So I start to wonder. This is the third year we had this production, Why is that? Why don’t they want to meet with us? Why don’t they want to see what we do? Why don’t they want to collaborate with us? And we had this opportunity to digitize the production which we have, and it’s going to be playing from August 16 to the 23 on Eventbrite, and people from Venezuela, people from China are scheduled to watch it, but people in Calgary, who we are trying to work with are ignoring our work. So it makes me very sad to say this, but we need more real allyship. We don’t want performative allyship. We need more of these organizations here to correct what has been done in the past And with these type of discussions, I believe they need to look inwards and see what issues they’re having amongst themselves as an organization, as an individual on why they are not coming to our spaces and getting to know us. So I just wanted to add that to the discussion I don’t know the answer, and I just gave an example of what the answer could be, but I definitely want us to start thinking of how to collaborate more and we’re working on doing projects that would be able to assist with this issue. Thank you Thanks so much, Wunmi. I think that that’s a comment and a question perhaps that she’s posing to all of us who are on the call today, particularly those of us who come from institutions or dominant culture institutions where perhaps our access to audiences, and even in our own leadership in organizations. How do we encourage and support Black-led organizations, and in this case arts organizations, more fully? And that’s by showing up And I really resonate or something that resonated with me, was something MelVee said around accompliceship, which is, you don’t get to decide you’re an ally, the underserved communities get to choose that. So we will show our allyship through our actions. And I know that I can speak for me and for those of us at Calgary Arts Development, we know we have work to do in that respect, but always seek out and try to be more curious As I said earlier, and I don’t want to take up too much time because I want to allow for the questions and the comments that I know people have, with respect to Pink Flamingo, you heard Beni speak to it very briefly. Some of you may or may not be aware of the recent comments and the circumstances surrounding the placement of a Black Lives Matter mural as part of the Black Lives Matter Murals Project that is being led by Pink Flamingo. The first mural is intended to be placed at the old CUPS building on 7th Avenue and First Street SE. And in the last quite literally 36 hours, there’s been a significant outcry from citizens and individuals in the arts community, um registering their, their opposition to painting over a mural that’s been there for 25 years, and for an organization that’s no longer in that particular building. Pink Flamingo are the leads, are the leaders of this project, this is their initiative And so I’m using any opportunity I can, to just let people know that as far as Calgary Arts Development is concerned, we will follow Pink Flamingo’s lead. They will choose the course of action that they wish to take, and we will support them in that decision. So some of you may be curious or been maybe wondering why hasn’t CADA said something. Why haven’t we spoken out? Perhaps some of you have sent me emails or called our office. And the reason

why we haven’t is because when Pink Flamingo shares their position, we will support that position, but we will not supersede their authority, their agency and their leadership with respect to this project So, I just felt that it was important for us to be able to share that with those of you on the town hall today. And also, as I said earlier, I would welcome any comments, or thoughts, or experiences, or questions This is a space for people to be able to ask questions. We will hear your questions with empathy and generosity and curiosity. And I think it was Tyra who said earlier, you know, as accomplices, we’re not always going to get it right. And we’re going to make mistakes, but if we don’t try, then, then this will never change. And so I hope that people feel like this might be a space where you can ask your questions and have, and know that they will be heard with an open heart MelVee, or Tyra ,or Beni, is there anything you wanted to add to Wunmi’s comments? MelVee here. Yeah I can turn on my camera Kind of to, to address what Wunmi’s talking about. I think part of the reason that we’re not kind of seeing that same engagement in terms of you know when when Black folks open up our spaces, I think, I think it’s really an excuse for non-Black communities, unless a space specifically says that it is for Black folks only Otherwise, that is an invitation and so I think the onus really falls on non-Black communities to think about why they’re not, why they’re not coming to Black events, why they’re or not, or Black live events, why they’re or not, whether or not coming to, to those spaces Anytime I’ve you know kind of held space, and it was specifically for a group of people, whether that was for racialized people, BIPOC folks, or if that was open to everybody, you know I know personally I make that very clear And so I think there’s a discomfort that people have with being in spaces where they’re not the majority, or they feel like they might be treading on toes. But by in all earnestness right we often don’t think of white-led events in that same way of, oh this, this must just be for this one group of people and so I think people need to really challenge those those assumptions that they make about Black-led spaces and to check in with themselves why aren’t they showing up to our events, why aren’t they, showing that support Thanks so much, MelVee. Um, as I said my, the team here, and the support I have is just extraordinary and as I was speaking, I was advised that Pink Flamingo has now made an official statement over their social media platforms, and that the project has been postponed to 2021 after violent vitriol has been directed at community groups at this particular group, and to the community at large, and we will absolutely support Pink Flamingo It saddens me and it disappoints me that Calgarians have taken this time, and chosen this moment to show the very worst in our city. And I, for one, cannot and will not tolerate this Calgary Arts Development will be here to support Pink Flamingo in whatever way and in particular the individuals associated. The fact that they’re having to change locations out of safety for artists, and for their own individuals in their organizations is untenable And for those of you who know the folks from Pink Flamingo who are engaged and involved with the community, I would encourage you to please wrap your arms around the folks from Pink Flamingo as well. And that’s irrespective of whether you agree with their choice or not. The fact is nobody should have to be subjected to hate mail, death threats and

being called expletives over social media platforms and I don’t care who you are. And I don’t care what you do. And I implore all of you, if you encounter those individuals who are making these statements, be the active bystander that we’re encouraging you to be And don’t tolerate it or we are never going to find a space to include voices that have never been included or underrepresented, just like you’ve heard today If those of us who have power and who have influenced don’t speak up, don’t show up I hope that I’ll see our social media platforms flooded with support for Pink Flamingo in making this very very difficult decision That’s enough for me on my soapbox. Sorry about that. Actually I’m not sorry about that I’m really glad I said it. I take that back This is not the Calgary I come from. This is not, these are not the neighbours I have This is not the arts community I’ve come to love, and champion for, and I hope you’ll be with me as we fight this Don’t be sorry at all Patti. That was, I’m just pulling up the post now too and I’m actually, I’m choked because it’s, this is the type of stuff that when people say oh there’s no racism. And it’s just like this is how it shows up and it shows up in these, these loud, you know, aggressive push backs and um nobody says anything And in fact, even how the media covered it, it wasn’t based on, they didn’t go to the Pink Flamingo for their statement. They went towards I didn’t even read the article so I’m just paraphrasing what I’m reading just from comments and stuff. And they took what people thought about the other painting being covered rather than understanding the mission of what Pink Flamingo was doing and what was happening with the initiative. And that’s just those are just small ways and how you skew what is happening right now. And keep like referring it to being a Black Lives Matters thing about violence says that whatever that was, anybody’s been paying any kind of attention, or have any kind of education whatsoever Not a single thing of negativity happened during Calgary’s Black Lives Matters protests If you want to refer to violence. We’re a part of the violence that’s been happening to Black people for the past 400 years. Don’t cherry pick and say, “Oh well you know there’s been some riots.” Yeah some buildings have been burned, but some families and human lives have been burned, and killed, and murdered And if you’re not going to pay attention to that, we don’t need to have a conversation with you, unless you want to actually understand what’s happening. And to see this sign and symbol of collaboration and moving forward, to be postponed for a year? Not even like three weeks let’s recalibrate. This is next summer? Yeah, I might have something to say, I think, in a louder way soon because it just doesn’t feel And I get it. I know the pressure, we did, I did the Black Gold awards and naturally doing the Black Gold awards, our pushback was, “Oh, what about the White Gold awards.” And it’s there is white awards everywhere And not only were we trying to do a double entendre saying that black gold is Albertan oil, or also trying to say that it is okay to be Black and we’re trying to represent and show those shining within that community that they’re just as important. And the type of threats and pushback and all that kind of stuff we faced is no short of a politician smear campaign So, I feel very very very disheartened for these girls right now, and that team. And I hope everybody that knows them or doesn’t know them just hops over to their page and gets engaged with what’s going on, because this is part of a louder and bigger thing that happens. You know, Canada’s racism, unlike the States, the States is very like in your face, there’s a gun in someone’s and there’s a billy club in someone’s hand. So you can see it, but when you’re talking about Canada, there are snipers on the rooftops, and they say things they make things happen but you don’t even know where it’s coming from. And it still represses and stops people from doing things. And that’s the difference between Canada and America when it comes to racism, and this is one of the ways that you can see it. Anyways, let me stop rambling That’s fine, Beni. Thank you so much. Anybody else Just looking I’m looking at my questions note. DJ Stagez Yeah. Um. Thank you so much. I’d like to say thank you to the three presenters, Beni, man, it’s great to hear another brother talking Um I was talking about a couple weeks ago that we don’t have a lot of brothers in this fight, but I’m glad that you’re here

Anyways I want to ask the three presenters, question to you. Because I know we’re in a struggle as you can tell, it’s a, it’s gonna take, go into the trenches and it’s a long haul. All I’ll ask you in terms of saying like, long term, what are the strategies that we can embark on to see that we have substantive changes? So each of you can, like, you know, give me for your perspective of what to look at in terms of making substantial changes And by the way, I identify the Black so that’s why I’m. Thank you Thank you very much. Tyra, MelVee, Beni? Which one of you would like to go first I can go first. Um for me, I think it’s all about, we just got to get everybody together in the same room. We like, like I said earlier Black is not a monolith, like there is Caribbean Black, there’s African Black, there’s Canadian Black, there’s Alaskan Black, there is Russian Black. Black is everywhere. And if you’re going to refer to it just a skin color, we’re actually missing out on the other part of people that grew up in Black homes or that are biracial or have mixed parents Black is a very very very very, you know complex statement, in the complex like, construct of culture, so to understand those differences, and those niches, we need to first get everybody together and have that conversation about how things different, differ from everyone’s different experience. And then from there, we can start talking about, you know, how we can provide for the Caribbean youth, for the Afro Caribbean youth, the Afro Canadian youth, the Canadian youth, American youth, the African youth, and referring to in that way, I think it’s already a daunting enough task to understand the differences and the lack of opportunity for Black youth that you know sectioning it off, what we tend to do, we tend to have our different associations and everything. You know, we then, we lose power, and we don’t have a strong enough voice to actually make the right kinds of changes and impacts that we need to see. So, once we can do that I think it would be much much easier to start giving everybody their opportunity, if that makes sense Um, and I think, oh, sorry MelVee. Were you going to go? Ah, I was just going to echo your, MelVee speaking, your comment, Tyra, to show support for Pink Flamingo whether you agree with the decision, or not this kind of violence usually particularly gets directed at Black women Um so, and particularly queer Black women, queer Black folks. So we need to show up for for Pink Flamingo right now Yeah, I agree with that. And also just to add that this is how the cycle goes in the city. Someone tries to do something, and then there is backlash, and then they receive threats Progress has to stop and eventually people have to leave, because then they realize that Calgary isn’t a place that is safe for them And it’s not a place that will support Black people in any way. And then so all of the Black activists will eventually leave. Because it’s not sustainable here So I think what we have to do here is we have to show up for Pink Flamingo. We need to comment on the Instagram page. We have to show support We have to change the narrative, and let them and the wider community know that hate like this isn’t okay here, and that there are people who support the project. And there are people who want to have these conversations, but in a way that isn’t going to accept death threats and like harmful messages, like that is not okay. Regardless of viewpoint, like it’s not okay at all. People should not be feeling this way just because they’re trying to make a mural. People are more upset about a mural than about racism and like that’s not okay. And we have to tell people that So like if you’re watching this town hall I’m going to give you an action. So I need everyone who is here to either go comment on the Pink Flamingo post on Instagram, or find some way to engage in the discourse just to show it to Pink Flamingo people that they’re

loved and that we care for them. And that we got their back for all of this stuff that’s going on. So please everyone take that action Yes, Tyra Yes, I agree with that fully. Definitely I think there’s got to be over 20 or 30 people inside this chat. And if they can see that kind of support. That’s what needs to happen is just people stepping up, right using the privilege, using 57, there we go, and using the representation to say that the voice and you know, bullying of a few, even though, to be taken very seriously is not the same as the support of the community that’s here So, yeah, this is so tough to hear this Can I do supplement to the question that asked you. Um … I Ah Stagez you’re muted Okay, um, I used to work in Saskatoon. And I fled Saskatoon because I had death threats because I work for a company where a guy was so racist. And I know what it’s like when somebody, like you know, you have death threats, because you know it’s not just a job. I’m just wondering like are we not in a way because I don’t know if we have the capacity to sustain any opposition if somebody puts out a death threat and then you show support for the people who are on the frontline Isn’t that in a way endangering them? I know this, the sense on one hand, because you know, like somebody have the last word if it meant mental destruction. But I don’t know if we have enough backup support in a way that if you say that we’ll stand up for these, what, what we back up with, other than just putting some words. And I’m just being practical here because, like I said, when you’re on the front line of receiving death threats, you know that it’s your life on the line, you get a lot of support. But in terms of effectively showing that support and making sure that person is not in danger, how’d you do that? Can I hear your opinions on that? Thank you Well, I think this is where we have to look for um the collaboration, you know, and asking for the CPS actually show up in those ways You know the ways that we have said that, you know, we need reform in our policing system, um looking at an opportunity like this to see like what are they willing to do to make sure that our people, our creatives, our leaders are feel protected in doing something that was completely as I’m reading here from Patti was completely approved by the City Council Right, City Council should be stepping in front of this being like, “hey guys, by the way, we approved this, this isn’t some offshoot thing like this is, this is our decision, and we’re helping to support the decision of these ladies do this, right.” Stepping in front, in a way that again is not performative, that it’s actual leadership and chest out, being in front of this whole thing. That’s how it’s going to change. I mean, we can be loud and we need to be loud, we need to be ignorantly loud because it’s not being heard enough, but we definitely need the support of, you know, the people who are in power We need CPS. We need City Council to be like, “this was us who gave funding.” We did all these things, I know they’re on break right now but, you know, they live in Calgary, they can all call CTV They, we have appointed them to be in positions, if they can’t make these decisions and support us in these positions, they shouldn’t be in positions anymore. They shouldn’t. We need more representation of what we look like and for what represents the decisions that were made like doing this mural as a simple sign of symbolism. And if no one’s there to protect it, we need to get people in there that can I agree. I think that we do need to advocate for The City to support this project, especially because they have their so-called “commitment to anti-racism”. This is like a really tangible way that they like what we were saying so like Hey guys, it’s happening right now Exactly. So we need The City to do something And we need people with like more, I think, protections and like capacity to take this on, cause Pink Flamingo’s group is like very small. So like I don’t think they can handle, doing this on their own, at this point Um, so I think that we need like The City, we need like various other organizations to make statements in support of Pink Flamingo, or at least in support against, or like make

statements like against this like vitriol that like Pink Flamingo is experiencing. So I think people just have to honestly like take a more public approach to this And just to add on to what Tyra and Beni and MelVee have said. Another action you can undertake alongside again wrapping your arms around Pink Flamingo is call 311 at The City of Calgary and express your disappointment at this outcome This happened because the 311 lines were inundated by white people—the vast majority. And I, you know, I can show you the emails and the phone calls that I’m getting. We need to ensure that City Hall knows there are more voices than just the ones who said don’t take the, don’t paint over the mural, that there are other voices and call 311, it’s three numbers And you don’t even get put through the City Councilor, you can just tell the, the person who answers on 311, that you want to register your dismay Otherwise, mainstream media is going to win this again. The least Lisa Corbellas are going to win this, the misrepresentation is going to win again. And this is only going to change, if people like us who are on this town hall are willing to make way. Step aside and show your support. That’s how this will work. It won’t hurt us at all. It won’t cost us for you to show the generosity of spirit and empathy that I know this arts sector has We have more questions, I think. I keep forgetting to look at my screen. I’m sorry team. Anybody else. I’m just scanning scanning. Anyone else want to share any thoughts or comments. We got no current questions. We are almost at 5:00pm. We are four minutes away, that might give time for Beni to pack one more extra box before he calls it a day Just get just getting started. It’s bad out here. It’s bad Perhaps showing up at Beni’s to help him pack That would be great That could be accompliceship Amazing I’m just sorry. I’m looking at a chat box, comment here from Jaqs, and um support for PF, for grassroots initiatives, more than just giving money Jaqs, you are absolutely right. And we were waiting on Pink Flamingo to make their statement first, and you will see a statement from both The City and Calgary Arts Development, as soon as we get the okay from Pink Flamingo to release it. You know, as I said, I think there’s something about recognizing leadership And so, Pink Flamingo is the lead on this So I’m gonna wait for them to tell me when it’s right and when it’s time. So, so just know that a statement is ready. And we will be releasing it I will be responding to all of those individuals who have reached out to Calgary Arts Development, basically telling them what I just said to you, not in so many words. But that is the practice that we will be undertaking, and that throughout all of this. Well, from the beginning of taking on this project, we committed to Pink Flamingo to support them and to provide any kind of internal or infrastructure support that they needed, and then, particularly in those last 36 hours we’ve been on the phone a lot, and in conversation a lot to provide moral support, emotional support, all of it And again, for those of you who know the folks from Pink Flamingo, again I’d encourage you to reach out, they need us all right now I know, right at the very end and that was an amazing close. Thank you for that. Um, I’m gonna go read the article, but I figured I’d ask since I’m here Yeah Why was that wall selected and not like any other wall as well? And I know it’s not even about, doesn’t matter where it was. It could have been a back alley, somebody would have something bad to say. That’s just how these people function Yep But why was that particular place selected and approved. Do we know?

Pink Flamingo chose that location. And they chose it because of the prominence. That wall is seen by 35 to 50,000 people a day. Okay, because of it being on the CTrain and they wanted a place of prominence. That being said, the building is also privately owned. So they approached the owner of the building and undertook an agreement, so that’s what I mean about the permissions, the protocol, like it’s not a city building Yes, that is And so I find it ironic that. Here’s a guy who owns a building. He could have just as easily chosen to just paint over that piece, period, with not a piece of art Yeah And instead, he’s committed to this and now Pink Flamingo is having to change their view for safety. And I think this is all the comments that we’ve all heard really are about that location and that and the replacing of Doug Driediger’s piece. I think what saddens me is that people have turned this into a mean spirited, hateful occasion to share their views. And that’s just the part that I find so despicable Murals change all the time like Absolutely Just even some advertisements. You see they change seasonally just to give people different looks and different perspectives, and they give other artists opportunity for that same kind of real estate. So now when you’re talking about it being private, it’s not even owned by The City, now it’s like, okay. I don’t I don’t know the girls personally but I’ll be reaching out to see how we can help, because this is not cool I’m sure they would welcome it and appreciate it. Yeah, so we’re right at five o’clock And on that note. Thank you all very much for staying with us. I see that the vast majority of folks stayed on for the half hour. Please please undertake the actions that Tyra has identified. Call 311 Our next town hall is August the 26. And stay tuned on our website for more info about what we’ll be talking about then. As well, the recording from our previous town hall around vocabulary with Brea and Ruby is now available and you can go to our website to have a look at that Thank you all again. Thank you, thank you Tyra, MelVee, Beni. You’re amazing for our community. And we’ll see all of you real soon Bye