Tiffany Forde understands the importance of conveying the message that Black lives matter to the community in a small town.
“It’s an important issue, and I do think in a small town it’s important that we recognize the issue and the part we play in that,” said Forde. “To stay silent and complacent is easy, but to actually say something is difficult, change is difficult.”
Forde, a Black woman from Simcoe, was among 30 people who came out to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement during a rally in downtown Simcoe on June 11.
Black Lives Matter protests began worldwide following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was killed while being detained by four Minnesota police officers. One officer has been charged with second-degree murder in his death, while three other officers are facing charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
“It’s simple, Black lives matter. There’s a lot of people that push for the all lives matter movement, and unfortunately, all lives can’t matter until all lives matter literally,” said Forde. “Black lives, LGBTQ lives, women’s lives are all included in that. It’s what I am, it’s my existence, so I fight for it.”
The Simcoe event, titled Peaceful March for Black Lives Matter, was organized by Devin Defreyne.
“Recognize your privilege, our white privilege, and take action,” is the message Defreyne wants to send to the community.
Forde says she has not personally experienced racism, but it does exist in the community.
“I am fortunate to live in an area that isn’t super hateful. Other Black individuals are not so lucky. But racism still lives here. People carry ideals that can be harmful to people who live different norms to them,” she said following the rally.
“People here in Norfolk, and I’m sure in many other small towns like Simcoe, feel that categorizing people of colour, members of LGBTQ, or even women in this ‘other box’ isn’t a problem but it is. It feeds to this mentality that keeps people from getting that job, accepted to that school, or considered for different roles,” she said. “These ideals also create an environment that makes it OK to push Black people aside or leave them down. These systemically racist ideals are harmful to Black lives.”
Sarah Auld was asking herself tough questions as she stood among the others at the demonstration.
“How could I not be here?” Sarah Auld asked. “In this day and age, how is this still happening? How can anyone think they are better than another person?”
Others in attendance recognized the need for more education.
“This is a human rights issue,” said attendee Julia Schott-Ramirez. “We should all be educating ourselves and be aware of how we can decolonize.”