The 519 Black Collective was created in July 2020 by Black staff members of The 519 with the mission to confront and advocate against anti-Black racism, and to promote equity for all Black people, specifically Black 2 Spirited, queer, and trans communities.
In 2021, The Collective proudly shared its first public Black History Month reflections dedicated to the loss of a beloved Black staff member. We also harnessed Black History Month 2021 as a launchpad for promoting local Black 2SLGBTQ-owned/run businesses.
In keeping with 2022’s Black History month’s global theme, ‘Black Health & Wellness’, The Collective would like to shine a spotlight on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black communities. The City of Toronto’s COVID-19 Ethno-Racial Identity & Income Report shows that COVID-19 hospitalization rates for Toronto’s Black communities are over 140% higher than the general population (353 per 100,000 for Black communities compared with 201 per 100,000 of the general population)*. According to the report, the reasons for this include:
It should also be noted that Black women who are invested in invisible labour with grassroots organizations, social services, and domestic labour, are facing greater COVID-19-related job losses and loss of wages than men, and have had large decreases in working hours due to child care and school closures. Whilst the income and employment impacts noted are true for all women, we know that the compounding effect of racism means these outcomes severely impact Black women; and are exhaustive for Black trans women.
As you reflect on the contents of this statement, and beyond, ask yourself the question: What holds me back from supporting systemic change for Black 2SLGBTQ+ communities?
The 519 Black Collective calls on all Torontonians to join us in the struggle for equitable access to healthcare, livable income protections, and safe and affordable housing for Black communities facing systemic barriers.
We recognize racism must be understood as its own relentless and parallel pandemic, and that the work of building a better City for Black communities must happen not just in February, but every day of every month.
“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”