We live in a constant “migrant crisis” in times of boats sinking in the Mediterranean, overcrowded refugee camps, mass incarceration of immigrants, racial profiling, and police brutality. But within in this global crisis, Black/Afrikan migrants are disproportionately targeted by criminalization, border enforcement, and immigration policies in Canada -- this “crisis” is built on anti-Black racism. As an organization that fights for justice and dignity of all migrant peoples, No One is Illegal - Toronto (NOII-Toronto) has failed to centre anti-Black racism in our political work and to build Black leadership within our organization. As a result, we have been responsible for perpetuating anti-Black racism. This statement comes as a result of the labour that Black-led organizations and Black organizers have put in over the years to hold NOII-Toronto accountable.
Most recently, during May Day 2015, organizers from Black Lives Matter - Toronto pointed out the omission of anti-Black racism as one of the core themes of the march. NOII-Toronto co-organized this year’s May Day rally and we acknowledge our responsibility for this oversight. This omission speaks to the anti-Black racism that persists in “progressive” organizing spaces/movements, and NOII-Toronto is committed to building more movement spaces that meaningfully involve Black-led organizations and Black organizers.
Over the past 5 years, NOII-Toronto has dismissed concerns raised about anti-Black racism and exclusion of issues directly impacting Black communities. We believe that this exclusion alienated Black organizers, many of whom were Black women. As an organization we haven’t emphasized enough the distinct forms of racialization that Black folks in North America experience - particularly as it intersects with gender, class, sexuality, (dis)ability - in comparison to their other racialized counterparts. While we’ve always opposed and campaigned against racial profiling, which results in detentions and deportations, we haven’t focused our efforts enough on building sustained relationships with Black-led organizations in the city. This is reflected in our membership, which while still majority people of colour, lacks consistent involvement of Black organizers.
Going forward, we’re committed to engaging ourselves and our allies on the issue of anti-Black racism. Internally, we are undergoing a process that includes training our members, creating accountability mechanisms, developing a stronger analysis on the intersections of migrant justice and Black liberation, rebuilding and creating new relationships with Black-led organizations, and striving to centre Black liberation in our organizing work. Just as we believe that we cannot achieve migrant justice on Turtle Island without a simultaneous commitment to Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, we believe there can be no true revolutionary organizing without solidarity with Black liberation struggles.
No One Is Illegal-Toronto