This past Sunday, the Black Lives Matter group in Toronto was invited as an honored guest to the annual Pride parade, the largest LGBTQ event in Canada. About two-thirds way into the parade, the BLM float suddenly stopped as protesters staged a sit-in, halting the parade for 30 minutes. The protest was used to raise awareness for a (perceived or actual) discrepancy in how much funding and accessibility was being provided for minority groups in the Toronto LGBT scene. The parade did not continue until Pride Toronto agreed to a list of nine demands for the inclusion and safety of minority groups.
I don’t live in Canada, nor do I follow Pride Toronto very closely, so I can’t speak that competently about what’s going on and whether or not more inclusiveness is of prime importance. I do know that Canada is not immune to racism and racial profiling, and I support activism aimed at raising awareness for and putting an end to such things.
A lot of people are turned off by the aggressive nature of Black Lives Matter protests, and I think this is something the movement needs to take seriously. I think being disruptive is often the only way to get your message across, but it’s also true that you have to think about what’s going to make people less willing to hear your message. Social justice activists often complain about “tone-policing,” but it’s naive to think that your tone does not affect the reception to your cause.
At the end of the day I find that, in spite of the fact that their tactics are often bold and uncomfortable and aggressive, Black Lives Matter groups all over America and Canada are successful at starting conversations, which is the first step towards any kind of positive change.