The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society president says there are steps that residents in Victoria can take to foster more diversity and inclusion.
February is Black History Month, where the goal is to share and honour the legacy of Black people. As part of Black History Month, Lucky Budd spoke with Silvia Mangue Alene from the BCBHAS on the Vital Victoria Podcast.
In the Victoria Foundation’s 2022 Vital Signs Report, respondents gave Victoria a B- for diversity, equity and inclusion and Mangue Alene says it is important to have a community that fosters diversity.
“The thing is that we have to have, as human beings, as community, we have to really believe in the idea of diversity, we have to really believe that diversity brings richness to our community, if we don’t believe that, then there’s nothing you can do,” Mangue Alene said.
“Then we make sure that anything we do, we make sure that we we are aware of who is missing in what we do as an organization, especially, we have to look around and say, ‘who is missing at our table? What can we do better? How can we grow better? And how can we include more people?'”
In the Vital Signs report, 53 per cent of respondents said they were committed to anti-racism, equity and inclusion, and 56 per cent of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour respondents said they feel included.
“Diversity is not easy, it’s challenging, but when you have a goal in mind those differences become secondary, because now everybody has one goal,” Mangue Alene said.
Mangue Alene says people can sometimes misunderstand what equity is, which can be a barrier to people getting on board with implementing it.
“I had a teacher that explains equity very well, so imagine that you have three glasses of water, and one is full until to the rim, the other one is half full, and the other one is a quarter full, and I have the jug, which is the resources,” Mangue Alene said.
“I’m not going to pour more water in the glass that is full of water, it’s already full, but I also am not going to take from that from that. They work hard to get what they have, and it’s theirs. But those other two glasses, they need more resources to be able to, not get to the rim, but at least to be able to cover the necessities to be able to say that all this has been a fair treatment.”
In this example, Mangue Alene says equity work would be dedicating resources to the two glasses of water that are less full in order to help them meet their needs.
“We want people to live in a society that allows them to feel that they belong, because we all belong to it,” Mangue Alene said. “We all are Canadians, and we all belong to the society, and we all want to feel welcome, no one is more welcome than the other.”
Listen to the full conversation between Lucky Budd and Silvia Mangue Alene where she touches on what steps we as a society can take to foster a more inclusive Victoira, how you can learn about Black history in Victoria and B.C., and believing in diversity.