Attention White People: You CAN Do Something


Yonge Street Mission manager Natasha Armstrong, left, joins the premiere of the short film, Ride or Die

Our souls were seared by the racist violence we witnessed this week. Feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion have been left in its wake.

What can we—especially us white folks—practically do to take a stand against this anathema?

You may feel hopeless and helpless, but there is a way for you to get involved in important anti-racism work, especially if you a few extra dollars in your pocket.

You can make a donation to the work of the Regent Park Film Festival, a festival based in Canada’s oldest housing project that is a forum for the voices of marginalized people here and around the world.

Click here to make a donation now.

I’ve been raising money in the charity sector for most of my working life.

And it always amazes me how people will fork over millions of dollars at the slightest suggestion of the word cancer and fork over millions more if a hospital puts a sick baby on television. (I have a whole book coming out on the topic early in the new year.)

But what about this other form of cancer we’ve witnessed this week? And the at risk children who are not in a hospital?

Wringing our hands is a luxury we simply cannot afford.

I have been serving the Regent Park Film Festival in one capacity or another for many years. I love this festival and see the difference it makes in the lives of people inside the community and around the world. Regent Park Film Festival is ready, willing and able to address at the community and global level, the issues that so frighten us today.

We are currently on a special mission—to improve representation in the film and movie industry in front of and behind the camera.

It may not be breaking news to you, but the vast majority of film trailers parked on our city streets across the country, and the film production companies that park them there, are white both inside and out. We are working to change that.

For a year now, we’ve been meeting with people in the industry on ways to break past the barriers. Frankly, some of the companies we’ve met with are not interested and have told us that straight up. But there are a few who are interested in working with us on our plan of internship, community workshops and industry partnerships that will, we believe, help break the doors down, one by one.

But we need help from people who believe in the value of the day-in, day-out community-based work on racism and marginalization.

Most of you have probably never had the blessing, as I have, of meeting the brilliant youth and youngsters who live in and around Regent Park. And, to tell the truth, it makes me feel like an angry  bear when I see how the straight-up prejudice and racism those children face on a daily basis.

You  might be surprised to know how tough it is for these young people, even here in Canada, to keep a modicum of their equilibrium given what they go through outside their community. They leave their homes with their dukes up, metaphorically speaking. That so many of them do manage without blowing a gasket is testament to their fortitude. But life shouldn’t be so hard and so frightening.

You can take a stand against racism by supporting the work of the Regent Park Film Festival today. You can make anti-racism your “charity.”

Retweets and Facebook posts alone will not get the job done. Use your wallet as your weapon.

Please give and please share with others who can give.

Click here to make a donation now.

And, in return, I guarantee there will be joy in your future as well as a sense of being part of the solution to a big problem.

Plus … there’s a free outdoor screening in Regent Park of Purple Rain on August 24th that you are very welcome to attend.

We also know how to have fun.


Gail PiAuthor Photo 01 Sandy Tam Photographycco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years, most of which as President of Gail Picco Associates. Prior to establishing Gail Picco Associates, she spent eight years working in a shelter for assaulted women and children. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, of Your Working Girl, a blog of memoir and commentary on politics, charity and popular culture, and writes a regular column for Hilborn Charity News. She is a Principal with The Osborne Group in Toronto and Chair of the Regent Park Film Festival.


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