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“It shouldn’t Only Be Tragedies That Brings Us together”

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Interview with Ryan Knight on vigil against anti-black Hatred and Terrorism

By: Charlotte Hui

On May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York, a teenage gunman obsessed with white supremacy opened fire at a grocery store, killing ten black people and wounding three others in a racist terrorist attack.

This incident caused a great response from all walks of life. Many people have been fighting for the right of black people to be treated equally. In Toronto, a Vigil rally against Anti-Black Hatred and Terrorism will be held today in memory of Buffalo victims at Nathan Phillips Square from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Our reporter had the opportunity to interview the organizer of an upcoming rally, Ryan Knight, and discussed the impact of the Buffalo 5.14 event on the black rights movement.

Ryan Knight – Organizer

Charlotte (reporters): “I would like to know why are you doing this rally?”

Ryan Knight: “We noticed that the overwhelming theme of hate has become more mainstream, and we can’t let it settle when it begins to target the black community.

I think it’s been frustrating for too long, and our voices must get heard. And even though it’s happened in the US, these are things that we must address. As a unified voice, we can connect with other organizational leaders to show our support for the victims in Buffalo. We need to come together and collaborate on whatever we can do to support the families.”

Charlotte (reporters):” So basically, we’re gathering people to support the victims’ families, right?”

Ryan Knight: “Right. We’ve been having meetings on how to best support the families and show our community’s unified strength. And again, it’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring us together. The more we organize, we can create better protection against things like this. So using this horrible event to amplify our voice and ensure that we’re unified and organized is important to keep building as a community.”

Charlotte (reporters): “Okay, so what do you think of the US? Can Canada become what the US is in the future?”

Ryan Knight:” Well, that’s the power of the internet. It gets used to radicalize people worldwide. So we can’t be naive to think that it’s only a US problem. There’s anti-black hate on the internet directed at Canadians, which is of great concern. We don’t want our black residents and colleagues to feel scared to go to the grocery store.

There’s never an end to fighting for survival, and many in society feel black people are like the enemy. This attitude is dangerous and has led to increased talks about white replacement theory by white supremacists and prominent community figures.

But if it exists, we have to protect ourselves against it. So yes, it happens anywhere globally, especially in Canada.”

Charlotte (reporters):” So where do you think the Black community goes from here?”

Right Knight: “March! Being able to unite and understand the message organized around supporting the victims of Buffalo and then beyond this tragedy. Our community’s organization will allow us to create feedback against things like these in the future.

I’ve worked with the Afro Caribbean business network, where we talk about economic development. I believe we can bring together the community’s financial strength to support victims of violence and hate within the community.

So if that’s the part that we play, we can organize and be a pillar of strength when tragic things like this happen. Families don’t need their suffering amplified because they don’t have resources. We feel like we can at least address that issue and then help fight the black hate as vigorously as possible.”

Charlotte (reporters): “So what do you think the government could do for black communities in these circumstances?”

Ryan Knight:” It’s going to be difficult to stop, but the government has to show that there are actual consequences to this type of behaviour.

The government must stand firm with the black community and any community that are victims of hate. However, specifically for anti-black cases, the government has to show a strong understanding across all parties, so anybody thinking of perpetrating acts of hate thinks twice. That is a significant role that they need to play.”

Charlotte (reporters):” What challenges do you think you will face in the future?”

Ryan Knight:” One thing is that we can’t only rely on government. I feel you have to do things paralleled in collaboration with the government. Through unity, through the black community, we’re going to be able to create as vital a safeguard as possible. We can’t get complacent. Now it’s always going to be that way.

We’re here now, alive and breathing. We have to be able to lay the foundation that we want to see in the future. It will be a challenge, but I’m up to the task, and so are many other black organizations.

Together, we will get it done, but it will take time.”