Of the many rea­sons I ad­mire [Black Lives Mat­ter Toronto co-founder] Sandy Hud­son, the pre­ci­sion of her work stands out — Hud­son doesn’t play. I have re­peat­edly wit­nessed her stand up to those who at­tack her ad­vo­cacy, not by re­turn­ing fire, but by ask­ing more gen­uine and rel­e­vant ques­tions than her in­ter­roga­tors. To me this is not sim­ply pa­tience, but a sign of Hud­son’s re­lent­less de­vo­tion to and un­der­stand­ing of the ex­is­ten­tial strug­gle for black lib­er­a­tion.

I spent sev­eral days and nights at the makeshift tent city camp that BLMTO and many Indige­nous al­lies main­tained for 16 days out­side Toronto po­lice head­quar­ters. Dur­ing a week­end rally that drew thou­sands to the camp, Hud­son stood with her team on the bed of a truck and, af­ter ad­dress­ing the crowd, she be­gan to sing “A Change Is Gonna Come.” As she belted, her voice raw from nearly two weeks of out­door pub­lic demon­stra­tion, I re­mem­ber think­ing “Damn, you sing too?” When some­one is es­pe­cially good at some­thing, it’s easy to over­look their true range and depth.

One of Hud­son’s great con­tri­bu­tions to our think­ing about black lib­er­a­tion in Canada is her fo­cus on the no­tion of care. She is con­stantly re­mind­ing us that end­ing state vi­o­lence against black peo­ple is only one step in our strug­gle, that in or­der to truly thrive, we need to de­velop sys­tems that cen­tre black peo­ple’s heal­ing and care. This idea ex­pands pos­si­bil­i­ties for black peo­ple and en­cour­ages us to dream beyond the poor ex­pec­ta­tions our coun­try con­tin­ues to hold for us. It’s a great bless­ing to be alive and in the strug­gle in the same place and time as Hud­son.

Hud­son at­tended Den­low Pub­lic School in North York

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