Dismantling White Privilege: The Black Lives Matter Movement and Environmental Justice in Canada


  • Cheryl Teelucksingh Temple University Press




On August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, alt-right/White supremacy groups and Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters came face-to-face regarding what to do about public monuments that celebrate key figures from slavery and the Jim Crow era. White supremacists and White nationalists did not hide their racist ideologies as they demanded that their privileged place in history not be erased. The BLM movement, which challenges state-sanctioned anti-Black racism, was ready to confront themes of White discontent and reverse racism, critiques of political correctness, and the assumption that racialized people should know their place and be content to be the subordinate other.

It is easy to frame the events in Charlottesville as indicative of US-specific race problems. However, a sense that White spaces should prevail and an ongoing history of anti-Black racism are not unique to the United States. The rise of Canadian activism under the BLM banner also signals a movement to change Canadian forms of institutional racism in policing, education, and the labor market. This article responds to perceptions that the BLM movement has given insufficient attention to environmental concerns (Pellow 2016; Halpern 2017). Drawing on critical race theory as a conceptual tool, this article focuses on the Canadian context as part of the author’s argument in favor of greater collaboration between BLM and the environmental justice (EJ) movement in Canada. This article also engages with the common stereotype that Blacks in Canada have it better than Blacks in the United States.