Peoples of Colour Caucus Statement of Principles *
This first Statement dated June 2013, based on discussions in Ottawa on January 26-27 2013 and in subsequent discussions online
We, the members of the Peoples of Colour Caucus within the Peoples Social Forum, are gathered together as diverse communities and peoples, to affirm these basic principles and to stand united in affirming our histories, ancestors, struggles and voices as part of the Peoples Social Forum that is being given shape in Canada. We believe that no credible efforts can be waged against the systemic injustices that pervade this country without fully active and respected representation and participation of Peoples of Colour at all levels of discourse and action within and beyond the Social Forum.
We have prepared this statement as an articulation of the principles we stand for and also issue it as an invitation to all women and men, of all colours, who feel that they broadly share these principles, to join us in our struggle for justice and peace, within the Peoples’ Social Forum and beyond. We also welcome comments on this Statement and suggestions for its strengthening.
As peoples of colour, we also issue this Statement as an embrace to all communities of settlers of colour in Canada, and as an invitation to you to reflect on your position within Canadian society as it is emerging and on your relationships with the Original Peoples of Canada in particular and of Turtle Island as a whole.
At the outset, we acknowledge all the Original Peoples of Turtle Island and respect the diverse lands of the Original Peoples of Turtle Island on which we today happen to individually reside. We recognize the legacy of all Indigenous teachings across this continent and the world. In particular, we are committed to working in solidarity as allies with the Indigenous Caucus within the Peoples Social Forum and with all the Original Peoples of Turtle Island – in words and in actions – against colonization and racism. We are committed to supporting the needs and struggles of your nations.
We understand that there are different processes that make up Canada and Canadian society but can see that there are structural patterns that suggest that Peoples of Colour and the Original Peoples of Turtle Island share much fundamental ground. These include colonization against Original Peoples on the one hand and on the other, the imperialism and interventionism, slavery, and indentured labour of communities of colour locally and globally that historically have particularly targeted women and children of colour – and continue to do so. Canada presents itself as a paragon of human rights, but the Canadian state, Canadian corporations, as well as Canadian civil society, has been complicit in genocide and dispossession of communities within Turtle Island and across the Global South. Thus, we aim to stand against the perpetuation of these dehumanizing injustices through the articulation of the experiences and visions of Peoples of Colour who bear a grossly disproportionate brunt of the inequities of the Canadian state.
We honour our diverse cultures and identities and struggles, including the role of youth and women and grassroots communities as active creative thinkers in the modeling of a better society.
The Peoples of Colour Caucus stands to maintain the visibility of the struggles that are particular to communities of colour. This includes struggles against police brutality and imprisonment; immigration laws that render peoples of colour as ‘non-people’; education and media systems that continue to be racist and colonial; overwhelming poverty and labour exploitation; environmental racism; and many other relationships of domination and exclusion.
On the basis of the above we believe and declare that, consistent with the spirit of the Peoples’ Social Forum, the struggle for the realization of a fair and equitable society necessitates an organized and institutionalized Peoples of Colour Caucus to ensure that the voices and interests of communities of colour are represented, acknowledged, and play a meaningful role in shaping the Peoples Social Forum’s thinking, actions and organizational activities.
We affirm that the local, national, and regional actions of the Peoples’ Social Forum must be consistently framed as being inextricably connected to the global oppressions that inequitably overburden Peoples of Colour around the world. These global oppressions include : Austerity, climate change, militarism, resource extraction, patriarchy, capitalism, dispossession of land, and labour exploitation. All these injustices have and continue to benefit the Canadian state and settler societies in Canada. The Peoples of Colour Caucus affirms that the Peoples’ Social Forum needs to make this a part of its local, national, and regional actions.
We firmly denounce tokenism as a vicious form of neo-colonial oppression that controls, minimizes and/or silences the voices of Peoples of Colour through the marginal and limited inclusion and recognition of our presence and perspectives in collective analyses and actions for social change. We assert that the Social Forum must be accountable to Communities of Colour, build meaningful relationships, and that movements and groups representing communities of colour struggles not be co-opted or tokenized. We need to be part of active leadership and decision-making roles of the social forum at all levels.
We are available to be part of the processes that make sure that all these concerns are an important part of developing the elements that will make the social forum an inclusive and participatory space, not only for Communities of Colour, but for all peoples that experience diverse forms of oppression.
We will work hard to ensure that the Peoples’ Social Forum is grounded in both unity and the meaningful and practical considerations of the particularities of struggles as evidenced by the common, different and complex oppressions that we all face.
We look forward to working together with all allies and movements struggling for a world free of the injustices and violences that mark our lives and this earth.
Contact persons (as of June 2013) :
Nydia Dauphin @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Moyo Rainos Mutamba @ email@example.com
* The Peoples of Colour Caucus is an open group that came together at the first General Assembly for a ‘Peoples’ Social Forum’ in Canada (initially called the ‘Canada-Quebec-Indigenous People’s Social Forum’) held on Algonquin territory and the city of Ottawa on January 26-27 2013, to discuss whether it was meaningful and possible for us to put forward a common statement to the General Assembly on matters of concern to peoples of colour. We agreed that it was, and this Statement is the first outcome of the discussions we had in Ottawa on those days and then online in the subsequent period.
The Peoples of Colour Caucus today exists both as a caucus within the PSF and also in relation to society at large in Canada and on Turtle Island as a whole. For contact details, see the end.