Race, Class and Collective Bargaining by Riot
On May 4, 1992, in Toronto, a peaceful march against police brutality turned into a riot. The march was organized by the Black Action Defense Committee, a civil rights group, police and criminal justice system watchdog founded by members of Toronto’s Black communities. While the media and politicians called it a riot, anti-racism activists insisted it was a “rebellion,” even an “uprising.” It Takes A Riot: Race, Rebellion, Reform is a provocative new documentary film exploring the events of May 4, 1992, their historical context, political impact, and relevance to contemporary struggles against anti-Black state violence and racial capitalism. Starting from Stuart Hall’s maxim, “race is the modality in which class is lived,” in a talk to follow the screening filmmaker Simon Black asks in what ways we can understand the Yonge Street uprising as a form of “collective bargaining by riot”? And as the labour movement marks the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, why are the events of May 4, 1992, not understood as “labour history”?
Simon Black is an assistant professor of labour studies at Brock University and a scholar-activist who writes and speaks on issues of race, gender, work, social justice and social movements. He co-produced It Takes A Riot with Prof. Idil Abdillahi (School of Social Work, Ryerson University) and Brooklyn-based director Howard Grandison. Black is the author of the forthcoming book Social Reproduction and the City: Welfare, Child Care, and Resistance in Neoliberal New York (University of Georgia Press).