Video interview: Moka Dawkins, August 7, 2020

Hi Everybody! I’m Moka Dawkins, I’m here to share my experience being incarcerated and my experience in reintegration, which is still happening. I have to say I’m very fortunate to be back out here with everyone, my family, my loved ones, and really good to be with them because there’s a lot of sisters and brothers and siblings that are still inside who can’t be here with us today. Sometimes it’s even hard for them to get to the phone to even just call and say “hey, how you doing, just wanna let you know I love you and I’m still thinking about you.” So this is my opportunity to let all you all know inside that I’m out here, and you have the opportunity to live through me until you get out here. Know that you are loved, you are missed, you are heard and you are validated, regardless of all the pain and disconnect, whether it be within yourself, within your community, family, whatever the case may be just know that there’s a connection here, a free spirit of love, joy and happiness. This drink right here is for you all, so just know that I’m out here for you all, I’m doing the damn thing and I can’t wait for the day when we get to all be amongst each other again. So here’s a shot for you all right now.

I hope that whoever’s watching this it brings some type of awareness, restoration, it brings some kind of understanding and enables communication, maybe for those family members who are incarcerated who you think did a bad thing but you don’t really know what they’re going through, or someone who’s just inside because they didn’t do a bad thing but they got set up for it. There’s a lot of possibilities inside and you meet a lot of different individuals with a lot of different stories. 

One thing, which I’m proud to be here to say today, is that individualism is community. A lot of things we promote in society when it comes to societal norms is not acceptance of femininity. There’s no acceptance of individuality. It’s more of a statistic basis in which people really look at us. My fight is to break down those barriers, the same way how when you’re inside they want to push policies and procedures on you, like the CO and the sergeants and the captains and all of them, they talk about it like it’s a case by case basis, nonetheless if you do case by case that means you have to recognize individuality and who that person is. I know what it’s like to be inside and not be recognized for who I am and have to fight for that recognition, and to be out here today, to really push for that for you all is a serious thing because I know the struggles that I went through and there’s a lot more people who went through a lot more hardships than I have. So just know that I’m out here and I’m doing the damn thing always for you all. Even when I’m feeling tired and weak, if I’m not out and if I’m not advocating know that I’m home laying down resting and praying. I just want to let you all know that I’m still here, I love you all, things are happening and I believe things are gonna happen for the better. Right now I’m associated with Not Another Black Life, Black Lives Matter, PASAN, Maggie’s, St. Stephen’s, Parkdale Queen West, a lot of community organizations and a lot of them stand for abolishing the system, period, the police. We do understand that things have to take place, you know there has to be some type of structure. The structure which I implement is the fact that if we give land acknowledgement.

Just so everybody knows I’m Black, I’m a Scotian, my daddy’s Jamaican, but on my Scotian side I have my great grandma, on my mom’s side, she was half Cree half Mi’kmaq. And on my daddy’s side, one of my grandma’s parents, their father or mother I don’t know, was Chinese. So I’m mixed with BIPoC, I am BIPoC, you know what I’m saying? I fully understand the struggles between each of the diversities, and sometimes when it’s combined in one, things seem to really just be over the top. Because you can go this way, that way, whatever the case may be, but nonetheless I realize again there’s a lot of lack of recognition of individualism. I believe in the fact that when we give land acknowledgments, we cannot just give a verbal acknowledgement. We must also, as a Canadian citizen, as a born Canadian, we must give the act of acknowledgment. In that case we have to go back to the roots of the land which I’m privy to have in my bloodline – I don’t like the word “aboriginal,” I’m going to use the word “native” – the native roots.

We really need to look at the structure which they had for troublemakers in the community, how they dealt with it. When we look at police officers we know the foundation of officer comes from overseer, and overseer was what white men had back in the United States. Just a quick background in case people don’t know of the police foundation and how they were formed. Slavery was starting to become abolished and people were living their lives and there were white individuals who didn’t accept it, who didn’t like it. What they did was they hired – and they were wealthy, they were privy to money – they hired individuals and gave them a title. The title was called “overseers,” and those overseers would round up Black people, whether they had worked for their freedom or gotten their freedom in whatever way necessary. They would round up those same Black people and then re-sell them to white people. That’s the foundation of police alone. So when we look at that root we understand that that root is a toxic root, that root is a colonial root, that root is a capitalist root. At this point I’m here and I’m fighting the government. I’m telling the government, real life, you’re fucked up. For you to even sit here and know the foundations of how this all formulated, and then you want to recognize the fact of over-population of Black and Indigenous people in prisons, and yet you’re still incarcerating Black and Indigenous people. You’re not even offering them a fair opportunity to bail. Just because of an accusation just because of whatever. I feel like the justice system has let down society in a whole. The police system has let down society in a whole. When you look at just the whole function of police. Me myself, being diverse in cultural backgrounds and being here in Canada, we recognize alone that the police … You know they talk about – I don’t want to use the word reintegration – they talk about restorative community acts, the police really mention that. But when you actually look at police they have a problem with society in a whole, they have a problem with the LGBTQ+ community, they have a problem with the Black community, they have a problem with the Muslim community, they even have a problem with the Asian community. They have a problem with it as a whole. We have to recognize the fact that it’s because of the roots they were formulated on. They were formulated on just disgustingness: racism, capitalism, colonialism, just self-gain. We already know that we do not prosper as a society because of self-gain. We prosper as a society because we are a community.

I feel like the world of academia needs to really step in because you have people, you have individuals who are paying x amount of dollars just to be social workers. The money that they’re paying in academia is higher than what a police officer pays, and it’s a higher level of education than what a police officer pays, but yet we want to give police officers guns, and a right, and a privy to arrest people to take lives and call it serving and protecting. That’s the hardest thing we stand on. Canada globally is known as the “peace country” but in ourselves we deteriorate. Because we choose to only commercialize what we all have here, instead of actually embracing the natural resources we have that we could use amongst ourselves before a capitalist approach comes in and sells out to another nation. I don’t want to say another nation, I don’t like the word nation, but just another country, whatever the case may be, you know it’s capitalist talk. First off, my mind is just flicking right now, that’s what happens when I start to get going I bounce, bounce, bounce, but it all comes to a sum. What I’m thinking is that we’re here now and we’re only now – Canada is only now – representing diversity. Canada now is only really showing acts of acceptance. It’s hard, it’s really hard, especially when you’re a person of my stature, to be a Black trans woman. I more identify, just so everybody knows, more as Black because my mom’s Scotian, she’s Scotian Black, but the mix on my mom’s side is my grandfather’s mother. And my daddy’s Jamaican, but Black Chinese. So that’s where you get my complexion from.

To really see the lack of acceptance of individualism… It’s okay to say, you know what? here we’re going to put out a billion dollars… okay I’m going to stop it like this: this is what I’m going to say and I’m going to say it so straight forward for you all. The Canadian government alone, not looking globally, just the Canadian government, put in how many billions of dollars into Covid? The biggest situation that we have with Covid and trying to fight it is the fact that we had a lot of homeless people who were contracting the thing. I worked with St. Stephens in the first isolation centre ever in Canada when Covid first struck our nation. It was very difficult to see because I don’t understand how you have money, to say you’re throwing in money somewhere but yet here we are in stage three and wherever we go we still have to pay for masks. Where’s these billions? How are they protecting us? You understand? A dollar here a dollar there for if you forget your mask at home, it still adds up. They turn around, they say we’re putting billions of dollars into this, into fighting Covid globally, but yet all they did was they opened up hotel rooms and old run-down places for people to have homes to isolate for them to feel better and then they shipped them right back out onto the streets in order for them to contract it again. Why is the fact that you know we are in a global crisis and you didn’t even take a hundred million dollars and spread it around Canada to build community housing for people? When you really look at the government, the government is disgusting.

The government is disgraceful. They’re over here and they’re giving CERB and if you’re on ODSP the only thing that you could get in an extra hundred dollars. We already know the cost of living in Toronto is expensive, it’s crazy. CERB alone should translate into the new ODSP, just so people could afford a bachelor, a basement, whatever the case may be. You know what I’m saying? It’s really hard to sit here and say “I’m proud to be Canadian.” I don’t want to commercialize myself as what everybody else in Canada stands for because what they claim they stand for and the actual acts of what they do to us citizens is two different things. This is really the barrier I face and a lot of the hardships I face alone is the fact that as I speak out I’m still – politicians hear me, politicians see me, I make sure I’m seen I make sure I’m heard, but nonetheless they know I’m detrimental to their career. And what kind of career do they have? A capitalist career. It’s not a career of community like Ford likes to promote himself for the people.

I just want to say at this point in time, don’t forget, before Covid really struck, we knew Covid was coming. They left the borders open number one. But before that you had Ford restricting healthcare, taking funds from children with disabilities, the people who are the most vulnerable to Covid. And then he had the nerve to turn around when Covid hit Canada and ask for funding from the federal government. Yet, all the money that he took away, he did not put one dollar back into it. This is who you are electing as premier. This is a party, this is a Conservative party, this is what they do as a whole, this is commercialism. I’m fighting a great fight, I fought it from inside and out, I’m telling you. I really know what it’s like to be in there to be locked up inside. People may think whatever, I did my whole time provincial, but I was sentenced to federal time. Could you imagine having to do my whole time provincial? Insane, insane. I want everyone to know who’s seeing this it’s a fact that we have a lot to work on. This is a new era. We are the future. We have to take hold of that. That comes in every aspect, that comes from everybody. That comes from not just Black people, not just brown people, not just [air quotes] yellow people, not just white people. People as a whole, we need to come together as a community, that’s what it is, that’s what we like to promote so we must put those things and those words and those feelings into action about making that change. We have youth, this is not even touching the youth system, this is just adults alone. Us as adults have to fight for the youth so we can all have a future. And they need to know what a future is.

My vision of the future is really just expressing individualism. When people run for government, obviously you have to enter into the world of academia in order to do this. What if I wanted to run for premier, would you all vote for me? You know what I’m saying? What if I said I really want to make a change because I done did the thing, would you all want to vote for me? What if I wanted to be prime minister? Would you all really vote for me? I don’t know, because everybody’s locked in a colonial mindset.

We have to recognize the acts of generational trauma. When we recognize these things we recognize the act of self-awareness, the act of vocalism. Sometimes people hear things but they don’t act on it. This is a point for us to really take all the hurt that everyone has faced. One thing that I want to say is, I’m not going to lie, sometimes you’ll see me on the road and I’m like I’m over it, I’m over all you white people. You know what I’m saying sometimes there’s just too many white people around me and I’m feeling allergic, I feel an allergic reaction for real because I need my culture around me, you know what I’m saying? Because mindsets are totally different sometimes, just the stream of it. But nonetheless, it’s a fact that if we turn around and we act on the recognition which we want to give, we could be so much more greater than where we are. I just want to continuously promote that act of individualism. You did not go to school and you did not pay for your stuff to settle. You did not go into debt and look for a career to settle. That is just a behavior thought pattern. When you look into these things these are acts of settling, and this is the way in which white supremacy embeds that into a global society. We have to recognize that we cannot settle we cannot just accept the fact that okay, there’s a lot of protest over here or a lot of talking over here so this is what we want to do this is what we think is best right now in order to amplify our voices so our party looks good to the people. Come in there and make a change, disrupt the whole party, you know what I’m saying? Destruct the whole party. And if the party don’t accept you make your own. This is Canada, anything is possible.

I just really want to promote to all the university students and the college students and even the high school and the elementary students who are watching too – hey you all! – to never be afraid of who you are and never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if the rest of the world disagrees with you even if they say you’re over the top. You know what? You’re over the top because you are the top. That’s just what it is. That’s just things that they just take away from us, and that’s something that almost affected me, but I’m out now. They almost had me, for nothing. Just out of lies. If I didn’t have the love of community, if I didn’t have somebody really wanting to speak the truth on my behalf, I would have been lost in that systematic oppression. I just really want to again thank everybody who came out who has come out, who is going to continuously come out not only to support me but to support the act of community, to support the acts of individualism, to support the acts of progression, in a prosperous way for all. Not in a capitalism approach. I feel like everybody should be privileged to that, and that’s something that I would personally do if I could do, if I could take all the money in the world from all the ignorant people, you know how much community housing I would build for people? I would build everybody a condo. All these condos that are being built, not one building has gone into community housing, it’s all been a capitalist approach. And it’s just so disgusting because there’s so many people who deserve to be loved, who deserve an opportunity. We cannot stand here and say that we are Canadian and not give opportunity when this is the land of freedom. It only takes one person to spark that desire.

When I say spark the desire I mean spark the desire of positive change. I just don’t want anybody to feel misled or confused of what I’m trying to say because a lot of words can be manipulated. I want a lot of positive change for everybody. I want people to have beds. Everybody should have a Sleep Country mattress, everybody should have Sleep Country pillows, everybody should be entitled to eat some good chicken good steak good whatever, that’s community as a whole and that’s what our government should stand for. Nonetheless if we look into these billions of dollars, how many deaths have we had in Canada? And how much money did you say you wasted in it? Well now you owe us. Again Ford, I’m coming for you the hardest, I hope you see this, and I really hope you’re stupid enough to run for the fucking next election. I really fucking do. And I’ll say it with curse words because I will be at every place you go cursing your name. Cursing your name. Because you did nothing for this province, nothing, but deteriorate it and act like you were for it. You manipulated your family’s legacy for your own gain. And that’s just the most disgusting part. Because when you have white allies, and sometimes our white allies their family members are not actual allies but they would jump on that bandwagon and act like they are and that’s the most dangerous fact. That is the most dangerous fact. So, nonetheless, I feel like I need to end it here with you all right now because I feel emotional and I feel like the next thing I’m going to say I’m going to bust out tears because I’m really and truly like “what the fuck’s wrong with you all” like I’m going to run up in Ottawa right now, run up in parliament hill, run up in the house of commons and be like “You all are fucking stupid. You all are fucking stupid,” you know what I’m saying? Real life, let’s strip you of your title and let’s treat you how your system treats a regular Black person. Let’s treat you how your system treats a regular Aboriginal person. And you go through it, go through it, go through the whole thing: have to sit inside and wait for trial, have to sit inside and find a lawyer who’s willing to really put it to work to back you up who really believes. It’s not an easy thing.

A lot of people plead and a lot of people settle just because they’re tired. They’re tired. A system should never tire its citizens. A system should stand up for its citizens. And the system that we have, the whole system needs to be abolished. Not just the police system, but every system associated with it: probation, and parol, the court system, and the court system includes the crown attorney’s office because it’s the crown attorney’s office who really depletes community the most and people don’t recognize that. Yes, police officers kill us – physically police officers kill us – but the crown attorney’s office kills us in community, kills us spiritually, kills us mentally. These people go to school, they become crown attorneys because they think that they are justice. You’re not. You stand for everything that’s against it. The fact that you want to recognize mental health, and not put enough resources into mental health alone. When we’re talking about Covid we’re not even talking about like when we watch what Ford did – I mentioned Ford and how he really disabled people who are already disabled – we don’t even look at the fact that we just think of autism when I say that, kids with autism, in a societal norm, that’s what comes into mind. But we don’t think of people who just suffer from everyday mental health like schizophrenia, paranoia, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, there’s a lot of things that they don’t take into consideration. For the minister of health to dare come up on CB-24, to dare come up on CTV and talk about this is what we’re doing to protect. You protect nothing because you don’t recognize no one. We are not a statistic, we are people. People are individuals. If you cannot stand for that you cannot stand for any of us. I’m just calling for the resignation, while I have this opportunity, of Ford, immediately. I’m calling for the resignation of the minister of health, immediately. Because none of you guys, you knew that Covid was happening way before it even touched Canada. You allowed it to touch Canada and then you allowed yourself to capitalize in your position off of it. I call for a resignation of all your positions, and I just really hope that everybody, not just in Canada but people who are outside of Canada, who have family in Canada, or who have lived in Canada, came to visit Canada, whatever the case may be, or even wants to come here, that you all stand behind me, and you all really call out the government on their nastiness because I can’t do this solely. Here’s another drink to you all.

I just want to say, let alone, talk about government cut-backs. I was inside and had to deal with – you know how I had to fight for my education just to have a little bit of education in psychology and business – if it wasn’t for Amadeusz, this is a program that is privately funded. I want to ask people of financial privy to fund Amadeus, to fund education. Because if you’re inside, we understand that people have learning disabilities and because people have learning disabilities that mix with societal norms, we understand that people feel indifferent in certain environments. Certain environments are forced upon people like the world of academia. But yet the lack of acceptance of individualism in academia, and the way in which we could progress has really been looked down upon. There are a lot of people in there who could really use the one-on-one help that is offered. Sometimes they just need to talk to a person to have understanding. In a classroom you have one teacher to like 35 students, 40 students at the most. Here you claim that you create these institutions, that’s what it is. The court is an institution, the justice system is an institution. Even right down to the crown itself, when you have to stand up in court it’s an institution. When they say “hail” before whatever they fucking make you say, it’s an institution. It’s an institution of capitalism, it’s an institution of colonialism, it’s an institution of just straight hardship, just straight hardship for certain individuals straight up.

One thing that I’ve really focused on and one thing I’ve been advocating to people who I talk to is the fact that when you look at the British system alone, and when you recognize the fact of just how they colonize for their own gain, it’s a very sad thing because the queen is not British. Maybe she was born in the land like I was born here but I talk about my roots. First I tell you that I’m Scotian, that I’m Jamaican, before I say I’m Canadian. She don’t tell you she’s German. It’s so destructful in one’s peaceful mindset. Because you have these people in power who are only in power for their own gain and they only think about their own family, they don’t think about the families who they’re hurting. They don’t think about your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, your uncle, your auntie, niece, nephew, cousin, they don’t think about none of those people. When it came to a war they didn’t even want Black people in the war at first because they didn’t want to associate themselves with them. Don’t forget the world of academia. They never even wanted Black people to go to school in the first place, we had to fight for that shit, and now they want to over-charge us. Now this is what they want to do. It’s all a capitalist approach. We need real self-recognition of our nation and that is the only way positive change is going to come. We have to take out the ignorance, we have to end it. It’s up to you if you want to stand by me or not but me, by myself, until my last breath I be fighting for everybody inside, those who are about to come outside, and those who are outside and trapped within themselves who are incarcerated within themselves, I will always be fighting for you all until my last breath. Know that there’s someone out here who does love you, no stalker no weirdo things. Just come at me with respect, come at me with love and come at me with solidarity and know that I got your back same way that you got mine. You know what I’m saying? That’s just what it is when it comes to the real life of things.

To all the people that are inside: freedom is a must. Know that a girl is out here and she’s doing the damn thing! Ah-eh-ah-ee-a-day-okay! The girl is here, I Love you! [air kiss] Until next time, stay strong.