What Kathleen Wynne can do about anti-black racism

Anthony Morgan, a research lawyer at the African Canadian Legal Clinic, proposes the creation of an anti-racism secretariat to undertake research and public education to reduce racism.

Not really sure the extent to which this will be effective, compared to the Ontario Human Rights Commission as well as other activities, governmental and non-governmental, with the comparable objectives:

Peel recently joined Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and London as Ontario jurisdictions where black people are the primary targets of the humiliating, human rights violating police practice of street checks and carding. Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans has even decided to join the line of other Ontario chiefs who are defiantly committed to continuing this practice despite evidence of its discriminatory impact on black people.

In the realm of child welfare, black children are grossly overrepresented in every Ontario region where there is a sizable black population. After initially being caught flat-footed, the Ontario government has responded by supporting two separate province-wide consultations to address the systemic anti-black racism chronically plaguing Ontario’s policing and child welfare institutions.

It’s likely only a matter of time before similar province-wide government consultations have to be launched to remedy the over representation of blacks in school dropout rates, suspensions and expulsions, Ontario prisons, mental health committals and incidents of police use of deadly force, among others.

Though not as prominent on the public radar as it should be, anti-black hate crime also remains a pressing problem in Ontario. According to annual reports by the Toronto police and Statistics Canada, for the last few years blacks have been the principal target of racist hate-crimes in not only Toronto but across Canada.

Recently in Ottawa, a Black Lives Matter mural was defaced with the following threat: “ALL LIVES MATTER, NO DOUBLE STANDARD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” This was the third Black Lives Matter mural to be defaced in Ottawa over the last few months. In another jarring incident in April, a black assembly plant worker in Windsor faced repeated incidents of nooses being tied and mysteriously placed in and around his working space.

The above incidents are not small, isolated and unconnected mishaps enacted by a fringe few. They collectively form part of the continually creeping culture of anti-black racism embedded in the public consciousness, conventions and institutions of Ontario. This culture is critically implicated in constructing a context for black life in which chronic crime, violence, unemployment and poverty too commonly compromise the health and well-being of Ontario’s black population.

None of the above is to suggest that the Ontario government and its institutions are not leading and/or supporting some important work to directly or indirectly address anti-black racism. It is to point out that what is being done is simply not enough.

There remains a powerfully promising institutional response to anti-black racism and other forms of race-based discrimination that the Ontario government is yet to deploy: the Anti-Racism Secretariat. Since 2006, Ontario’s Human Rights Code has provided for the creation of this secretariat mandated to undertake research and public education programming designed to prevent and eliminate racism in Ontario.

For reasons that are unclear, the secretariat has never been established. In the chasm of the Ontario government’s silent inaction, it is tempting to speculate that black people being the primary targets of racism in Ontario is the reason for this.

Source: What Kathleen Wynne can do about anti-black racism | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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