New StatCan data shows how Canada is failing new generations of Black youth

Looking forward to seeing future StatsCan work to see if this pattern is common to both recent and long-term immigrants and region of origin, given that recent Black economic immigrants tend to be more highly skilled/educated than earlier waves. As there are few third generation immigrants for recent immigrants, will take some time to see but second generation outcomes will likely be illustrative:

If statistical data tell us stories in numerical form, new information from StatCan depicts Canada as a nation that’s continuing to fail its Black youth. It also shows that the commonly accepted narrative that immigrants fare better with successive generations simply may not hold true for all immigrant groups.

While these outcomes will not come as a surprise to those who have long observed and studied Black experiences, they make the implications of Statistics Canada’s conclusions inescapable.

“The persistent gaps between the Black population and the rest of the population suggest that other factors not measured by the data used, including discrimination, could have an effect,” concludes Martin Turcotte in the study, titled “Education and Labour Market Integration of Black Youth in Canada.” It was published this week in the journal Insights on Canadian Society and is based on information from the 2006 and 2016 censuses.

The study compares Black Canadian youth with non-Black youth as they transition from childhood or adolescence to adulthood.

StatCan also released what it called a booklet, “Canada’s Black Population: Education, Labour and Resilience.”

Two key data sets show why this latest snapshot has significant implications for the Black community, said York University professor Carl James, who, as a member of the Working Group on Black Communities, offered advice and guidance for this project.

First, the Black population is young and growing. Canada’s Black population doubled between 1996 and 2016, from 600,000 to 1.2 million. In 2016, more than a quarter of the Black population was less than 15 years of age, compared with 16.9 per cent of the total population. Its median age is about 30, while it is 40 years for the total population.

“This means you can understand how the concerns of the Black community are weighted around ‘What’s happening to our young population,’” James said.

Second, about nine per cent of Black people in Canada are at least the third generation to be born in this country — a rate that is higher, he said, than for other racialized minorities.

“There needs to be a serious concern about this generation,” James said. “We’re responsible for their welfare in the Canadian state.”

Because the modern wave of Black immigration to Canada dates back to the 1960s, the outcomes for Black people could serve as a bellwether for minorities who arrived later.

“This is what we see for Black youth now. It is possible as other groups become third-generation you’re going to see more similar patterns,” he said.

The unique experiences of Black people also mean they should be disaggregated from the more general “visible minority” category, he said.

Some of the key StatCan findings include:

  • Most Black youth aspire to a university degree but are less likely to think they will obtain it. In 2016, although 94 per cent of Black youth aged 15 to 25 said that they would like to get a bachelor’s degree or higher, only 60 per cent thought that they could.
  • There persists a gap in post-secondary graduation rates between Black youth and their counterparts who are not Black. About half (51 per cent) of Black men aged 23 to 27 in 2016 had a post-secondary qualification, compared with 62 per cent of other men.
  • There persists a gap in employment rates between Black and non-Black youth. Young Black males were nearly twice as likely as other young males not to have a job in 2016.

Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview Text – Selected

The booklet provides a good overview of the diverse demographics of Canada’s Black population. Look forward to future work looking at the socioeconomic characteristics of the different Black communities in Canada, in particular with respect to whether how well the more highly skilled recent Black immigrants and their children in relation to earlier waves of Black immigrants, as well as with respect to other immigrant and non-immigrant groups:

There were almost 1.2 million Black people living in Canada in 2016. The Black population is diverse and has a long and rich history in the country. More than 4 in 10 Black people were born in Canada.

Among the Black population born outside of Canada, the source countries of immigration have changed over time. More than half of this population who immigrated before 1981 were born in Jamaica and Haiti. Black newcomers now come from about 125 different countries, mainly from Africa.

The vast majority of the Black population live in large urban areas. In 2016, 94.3% of Black people lived in Canada’s census metropolitan areas, compared with 71.2% of the country’s total population. Toronto had the largest Black population in the country, with 442,015 people or 36.9% of Canada’s Black population. It was followed by Montréal, Ottawa–Gatineau, Edmonton and Calgary, each home to at least 50,000 Black people.

To illustrate the growth and the diversity of the Black population, a first infographic was released on February 6, 2019. A booklet is now available to provide more information about the richness of diversity among the Black population in Canada. A number of topics are covered in this booklet including population growth, age and sex structure, place of birth, generation status, immigration, ethnic and cultural origins, languages and a few geographical highlights.

Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Black stories. Black voices. Black spaces. This is media by and for Black Canadians

Ethnic media provides opportunities and opens doors:

Black-owned media helped shape the identity of CBC on-air personality Nana aba Duncan as a Black woman; it planted the early seeds for her foray into journalism.

“What would my life be like, if not for Share?” said Duncan, the host of Fresh Air on CBC Radio One.

“What would my life be like, if not for the Ghanaian News?”

As many of her peers of colour do, Duncan credits the city’s Black-owned media brands, for serving as a launch pad for budding journalists struggling to get hired by mainstream titles, and shaping the way Black stories are told, and also for serving as a bridge between the diaspora and its diverse countries of origin.

“I remember writing for the Ghanaian News,” said Duncan, who was born in Ghana.

“Seeing a Black face on the cover of Share is part of my experience. We need that.”

Duncan said Black-owned media is a key source of representation “to an under-represented group.

“It means that there is another voice.”

While brands such as Share, a newspaper of record serving the African and Caribbean community, have been around for decades, several newer entrants, such as ByBlacks.com and G 98.7 FM have recently taken up the mantle of telling the stories they say are typically ignored by mainstream media.

Strengthening Black representation in Canadian media was one of the motivations behind the creation of Roger and Camille Dundas’ ByBlacks.com.

After they launched the site about seven years ago, the couple quickly discovered that their readership is hungry for the stories they provide.

“The Black Canadian community is desperate for positive representations, positive reflections of themselves,” said Camille Dundas, the editor-in-chief.

“Mainstream media’s relationship with the Black community has, for the most part, been predatory, in the sense that they are very interested in the stories of our pain, of our suffering,” she said.

“They’re not so interested in the stories of our success.”

Having a hand in shaping how Black stories are told is critical, she said.

ByBlacks.com covers a little bit of everything relating to Black people in Canada, from business profiles to music reviews to opinion pieces.

One of ByBlacks.com’s most popular series was #BlackHistory365; throughout 2017, it shared a story daily about influential Black Canadians — people such as Carrie Best, who founded the first Black-owned newspaper in Nova Scotia in 1946; and Mathieu da Costa, who was the first-recorded free Black person in Canada and worked as a Mi’kmaq translator for European settlers. “I learned so much (more) in that one year than I ever did in school here in (any) one year, about Black Canadian history,” said Camille.

“Black people in Canada have for so long had to look to the U.S. for any type of positive reflection of (themselves),” she added.

“We wanted to create a space where we could do that for Black Canadians.”

Roger Dundas said they optimize their website diligently. They’re “ranked number one in Canada for Black online magazines,” based on Alexa.com rankings, he added. This makes them a suitable choice for ad clients seeking to reach Black audiences, such as TD Bank, the City of Toronto and Soulpepper Theatre. It’s been enough for ByBlacks.com to pay its writers and “keep the machine going.”

The Dundas’s goals for the near future are to grow their younger audience, cover more Black Canadians outside of Ontario and move their presence offline through events such as Essence Fest, a music festival and conference organized by the American magazine of the same name.

Roger Dundas wants to see Black Canadian titles to become more established, visible household names.

Sharine Taylor, 26, is betting on a boost in visibility for her brand, Bashy, a magazine by and for the Jamaican diaspora.

It’s focused on Afro-Jamaican content primarily.

Just more than 200,000 people in Toronto are of Jamaican descent, according to the last census.

But migration from a number of countries has a large influence on the Black Toronto experience.

“I find that people are often, whether subconsciously or not, trying to recreate feelings of home,” she said.

As a freelance writer, Taylor got tired of having to justify why her story pitches, which championed dancehall artists and Jamaican culture, would be well-received by the readership of the publications.

So she created her own title in 2016.

Bashy, gleaming and glossy, is still “very much a baby,” she said. A few issues have been published in print and in a digital format, and it has a website.

Taylor is able to offer writers honorariums and hopes to increase these.

She wants to offer Jamaican people around the world a positive representation of themselves, as told by them. “I no longer want a seat at the table; I want to dictate who’s in the room.

“I want to create the space that I aspire to be a part of,” she said.

Veteran newsprint journalist, Ron Fanfair, who has written for Share News since 1986, is optimistic about the future of titles such as ByBlacks.com and Bashy.

He said Black-owned and managed print entities, such as Share News and Contrast newspaper, were beacons of hope for budding journalists in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, as they saw them as stepping stones to mainstream titles.

“They gave me an opportunity and without that opportunity, who knows what would’ve happened,” he said.

Donovan Vincent, now a Toronto Star reporter, wrote for Share, and Royson James, an eminent Black columnist for the Star, wrote for Contrast, which was conceived in the 1960s, as the “eyes, ears and voice of Canada’s Black Community.”

James said Contrast “was like a community centre. That’s where we all came together.”

Jojo Chinto, who went on to work for CityTV, was an editor for Contrast.

Media catering to a Black audience is key to shaping the landscape of how Black stories are told, he said.

“Share was the one that stood out for me, because they were telling the stories you weren’t seeing in the mainstream media.”

Fanfair said Afro-centric newspapers have consistently profiled both social issues and pioneering Black people in an uplifiting way.

“Stories about our young people doing well are the ones I enjoy doing, and you won’t see those stories in the mainstream media,” he said.

Share, as most newspapers have, has been hit by a decline in advertising dollars. The once weekly paper is now only published twice per month.

Fanfair is concerned about the dearth of new-media Black-owned brands, even with new online outlets, such as ByBlacks.com, emerging.

“I hope we can see more publications come to the service of telling those positive stories,” he said.

Delford Blythe, part-owner of G98.7 FM, a radio station geared toward the Afro-Canadian diaspora, said titles have to be prepared to evolve..

“There’s lots of room, so we should come up with interesting channels (podcasts), for people to listen to,” he said. “We have to anticipate change and be ready to deal with it.”

The times have certainly changed from when Denham Jolly fought to get the first Black-owned station, Flow 93.5 FM, on the air, in 2001.

Black music, culture and stories are now more widely accepted and appeal more broadly, Blythe said.

“From a Black-owned perspective, I don’t see a threat; I see an opportunity, because more diversity in Toronto makes our message acceptable,” he said.

“The younger generation is into different experiences and different cultures.”

Blythe said in the ’90s, Black media brands weren’t seen as viable places for advertisers to promote their goods and services.

Now major brands endorse diversity.

“We don’t have the same type of barrier …,” he said. “It’s now about performing, so they can see the value, so we can bring them in.”

He recalled the concept of a dedicated Black-owned radio station was still a lofty goal in the ’90s, and Afro-Canadian newsprint served as the key source of content for the diaspora.

“We got our news from Share, and, earlier on, Contrast,” he said. “We used to look for them dropping on the newsstand.”

Source: Black stories. Black voices. Black spaces. This is media by and for Black Canadians

Black Canadian groups call on feds to address economic inequities facing community

Will be interesting to see what, if any, concrete initiatives emerge from this meeting. The Federation of Black Canadians was successful in securing funding for anti-racism programming:

A collective of Black Canadian groups is appealing to the prime minister to address the barriers that prevent the community from achieving economic parity with the rest of the country.

The Black Political Action Committee’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.), Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen (York South-Weston, Ont.), and Liberal MPs Greg Fergus (Hull-Aylmer, Que.) and Emmanuel Dubourg (Bourassa, Que.), on Feb. 3 is part of a long-running lobbying effort during Black History Month to engage the government and other Parliamentarians in its efforts to tackle anti-Black racism.

With this year’s effort focused on the theme of economic inclusion, the collective brought together several groups and individuals—including Arielle Kayabaga, the first Black city councillor in London, Ont., Dahabo Ahmed Omer of the Federation of Black Canadians, and Michael Forrest of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce—engaged in this field.

Economic inclusion is “the basis for all other aspects of what inclusion might mean,” said Tiffany Gooch, a Liberal strategist and principal consultant at Aurora Strategy Group, who spearheaded the effort for Black organizations to meet with Parliamentarians in Ottawa, which is in its fourth year. This year marked the effort’s first sit-down as a group with the prime minister, according to Ms. Gooch.

Among their asks was a call to increase Black representation across government and other arm’s-length institutions and to level the playing field in competing for federal procurement contracts. “We want it to be closer to the representation of Black Canadians in population,” Ms. Gooch said. “There’s often a lot of stages involved and red tape, and not a very large understanding of the processes.”

One proposal floated by the collective was to change the points system for awarding tenders, giving firms with a diverse workforce more points.

Black Canadians account for more than 3.5 per cent of the population and 15.6 per cent of visible minorities, according to Statistics Canada. The agency projects that, by 2036, the community might represent between five and 5.6 per cent of Canada’s population.

Public Services and Procurement Canada does not currently have disaggregated data that breaks down the contracts “awarded to specific groups, outside of Indigenous companies,” according to a departmental spokesperson. But the spokesperson noted its Office of Small and Medium Enterprises “is increasing activities across the country to diversify the Canadian bidders and suppliers represented,” and will be on hand at the National Black Canadians Summit in Halifax in March, organized by the Michäelle Jean Foundation, to offer workshops on the procurement process.

Anecdotally, Ms. Ahmed Omer said her organization has observed that Black businesses tend to employ two to three people. “If we’re able to increase that, from two to three, to four to five, that micro change would allow for a macro impact,” she said.

“We got a lot of time with the prime minister. We asked for a response on some of the metrics we’re looking to track the success in the work they’re doing,” Ms. Kayabaga said. “It was more than a photo-op.”

In 2019, the government committed to spend $25-million over five years “for projects and capital assistance to celebrate, share knowledge, and build capacity” in Canada’s Black Canadian communities. The previous year it also recognized the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, which wraps up in 2024.

Mr. Fergus pointed to the funding, and the creation of an anti-racism secretariat to oversee the culture in the federal public service, as an outgrowth of the Black Canadian community’s efforts to press the government to respond.

In explaining why he helped facilitate the meeting, Mr. Fergus said, he did not set out to become a standard bearer for the Black Canadian community in its push for equity when he was first elected in 2015. “But when you see this lack of representation, and you hear from communities, ‘Thank God you’ve made it,’ you feel a responsibility to try to open doors.”

Ms. Ahmed Omer said the task before the government now is to ensure programs and services established to help Black Canadians’ businesses scale up have adequate resources, noting that the UN decade, which Canada adopted, outlines a commitment to advancing economic equality.

‘Elephant in the room’ 

The meeting took place several months after news broke in the middle of the federal election campaign that Mr. Trudeau had worn blackface on more occasions than he could recall. While some members of the community believe Mr. Trudeau’s actions reflected a lack of education on racial issues, others argue that the prime minister should have resigned.

Though Mr. Trudeau’s history did not affect the tenor of the meeting, Ms. Gooch said, “it’s always going to be the elephant in the room.”

“The work they’re [Liberals] doing is going to need to speak for itself,” Ms. Gooch said. “Education is likely coming from all the conversations he’s going to be having across communities. The measure of him as a leader is how he grows from that.”

Though the committee does not purport to be fully representative of the Black community, the Federation of Black Canadians faced scrutiny a few years ago from other prominent Black activists, including journalist Desmond Cole, for being seen as cozy with the Liberals after news surfaced that the group was founded by a sitting judge, Ontario justice Donald McLeod, and counted the wife of then-immigration minister, Mr. Hussen, as its member. Both eventually left the group amid criticism.

“You can find a few well-connected Black people and get into a private meeting with them, where we don’t see what you talk about, where we don’t understand which Black people even informed the agenda,” said Desmond Cole in an interview with The Hill Times on the release of his book, The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, in which he dug into the history of the Federation of Black Canadians. “The Liberal Party is completely capable of finding their handpicked, elite class to meet behind closed doors.”

Asked whether such criticism that their ties posed conflicts of interest, Ms. Ahmed Omer said she wasn’t a member of the federation at the time, but that one’s political connections should not bar him or her from participating in “civic duties.”

“We are Black Canadians; we all have a stake in this,” Ms. Ahmed Omer said, adding that the committee’s engagement extended to opposition parties. “I would not agree with the idea that we were too cozy with the Liberals.”

Mr. Fergus dismissed the notion that an individual’s political affiliation bears weight in deciding who he meets with. “I don’t see the relevance of that,” he said. “I have no idea who has ties to the Liberals. This is ridiculous.”

But Ms. Gooch acknowledged that her connections to the Liberal Party didn’t hurt in helping arrange meetings with Parliamentarians.

“All of our communities, political operatives have some sort of political partisan ties. … I try as much as possible to encourage all of these groups to have partisan ties,” she said. “My longtime volunteer and work with the party’s apparatus definitely means I have few numbers to follow up on the logistical side. But across parties, we’ve had a very wide interest in engaging [with us].”

Source: Black Canadian groups call on feds to address economic inequities facing community

His family was banned from a Toronto roller skating club for being Black. He fought back in court

Note from our history:

Before Viola Desmond refused to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia theatre and Hugh Burnett led sit-ins at restaurants unwilling to serve Black customers, a barber in Toronto pushed back against racial intolerance.

During the first decade of the 20th century, a roller-skating craze swept North America. Rinks sprang up in cities across the continent and Toronto was no exception. Citizens had several options including Victoria Rink on Huron Street and Granite Club Roller Rink at 519 Church. Roller skating appealed to all ages. The craze was so popular sporting goods stores quickly ran short of skates. Participants were required to rent skates from rinks. Ads placed in newspapers by competing arenas boasted “Strictly select patronage.”

The Taylors lived in a home in the shadow of St. James Cathedral on Francis Street. On a cool November evening in 1906, Arthur Taylor, 12, and his mother, Lydia, dressed against the chill and boarded a Toronto Railway Co. streetcar for the short ride north to the Granite Club, a forerunner of the city’s current Granite Club. After purchasing tickets and entering, they queued up to rent skates. Before they could join the crowd on the floor, however, an attendant instructed by management informed them they were unwelcome because they were Black.

Mother and son returned home humiliated.

The Granite Club chose the wrong family to discriminate against. Arthur’s father, the successful barber Armistead Pride Taylor, refused to take the slight lying down. Incensed, Taylor rushed to the courthouse at city hall and issued a civil claim for $50 in damages.

Armistead Taylor was born a freeman of colour in Virginia in 1845. After visiting an aunt in Toronto in 1870, she convinced him to settle here. Prior to the move, he wed Lydia Hegetscweiler in Virginia and relocated north of the border with his new wife.

The newlyweds initially resided in Yorkville, where Taylor opened a barbershop. Within a decade, he earned a reputation for challenging social norms. Fined two dollars for violating the Lord’s Day Act — Taylor shaved a customer on a Sunday — he won the case on appeal.

Taylor descendant Paul de la Rosa of Toronto is familiar with his ancestry but remained unaware of the specific indignity experienced by his great-grandmother and great-uncle.

What does de la Rosa suppose gave his great-grandfather confidence to challenge the WASP establishment? De la Rosa speculates, “Being considered freeborn in a time of slavery gave him hope for a better life. His move from the States to Canada was also part of that. Self-esteem, pride, and a determination not to go backwards … probably were driving forces. Along with some rage!”

The Taylor family eventually grew to 10 children. By then the barber had standing in the community. He opened the first bathhouse in Yorkville and managed barbershop facilities at the Queen’s Hotel. A talented musician, he was a member of local marching bands.

Lydia and Armistead valued education for their children. Those who survived into adulthood would pursue higher education, going on to make valuable contributions in the fields of medicine and law, in Canada as well as south of the border.

Judge Frederick Morson heard the case before Christmas 1906. With a reputation for fairness, the magistrate was known to dispense swift justice. The defence was mounted by Edward Bayly, a skilled lawyer later appointed deputy attorney general to the province of Ontario.

Hotelier Abram Orpen, a former bookie with previous run-ins with authorities, managed the rink. In years to come, Orpen would establish Dufferin Park Racetrack. The successful venture led Orpen to open additional horse tracks throughout the province. As his wealth and influence grew, he became a friend to politicians and a favourite son of the city.

At trial, the lawyer representing the Granite Club claimed the recreational and social club was not liable for damages since Orpen leased the rink from them for his own purposes.

From the witness box, Armistead Taylor surmised staff initially permitted his light-skinned wife and son entrance assuming they were white. For his part, Orpen unabashedly testified ordering mother and son from the rink after discovering they were Black. Upon hearing arguments, Judge Morson admitted never having adjudicated a race-based case such as this. Court was adjourned to allow his honour to examine Canadian jurisprudence and case precedents.

Two weeks later a decision was rendered. In a challenge against the WASP establishment of the day, a verdict in the Taylors’ favour seemed unlikely. Win or lose, Taylor would not tolerate the indignity afforded his wife and son.

He refused to back down and his tenacity paid off. This doggedness doesn’t surprise de la Rosa. It runs in the family. “I attended a large family reunion many years ago,” he explained, “During this reunion, I actually saw a bill of sale for one of my ancestors that had bought himself! It seemed that that determination and drive was alive then, and was passed down.”

Judge Morson’s judgment read, “In this country nobody has a right to subject anybody to indignities because of his colour. Be a man or woman coloured … he or she is entitled to respect and protection.” Reflective of the times, however, he stated that if management intended to deny entry based on skin colour, a notice should have been conspicuously posted.

The judge denied Taylor’s claim for punitive damages but ordered the Granite Club to reimburse the ticket cost.

What effect the small victory had on young Arthur is impossible to say but it is worth noting, after completing his education in Toronto, the young man attended Lincoln University in Philadelphia and then Yale to study law. He would become assistant district attorney for the District of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Why isn’t the Taylor victory widely known? De la Rosa ponders. “How many know that Toronto once had a Black mayor?” (William Peyton Hubbard, elected Toronto’s first Black alderman in 1894, served as acting mayor on several occasions.) There were schools and streets named after prominent Black leaders in the community that have quietly had their names changed over time, and those stories have been lost to history as well.”

Source: His family was banned from a Toronto roller skating club for being Black. He fought back in court

Why Canada needs a national policy for Black arts, culture and heritage

Not convinced by the rationale for a separate strategy for Black arts, culture and heritage rather than the current strategy of increasing diversity in existing arts and culture programming in institutions like Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada and others.

The return of the Multiculturalism Program to Canadian Heritage reflected the intent to ensure the program, both directly and through the Canadian Heritage portfolio agencies, recognized the importance of arts and culture.

The commentary would benefit from an analysis of the effectiveness of existing government and agency programs in advancing diversity for the Black and other communities.

And if the government does for the Black community, one can expect pressures from other communities to do the same (as we have seen with history and heritage months:

Like the ones before it, this Black History Month is blessed with a cascade of creative programming that will uncover and convey Black Canada’s complex and compelling stories through an array of artistic mediums. This includes varied and powerful artistic performances of theatre, music and dance; photography and other visual arts exhibitions; book talks; community tours; film screenings, and so much more.

However, the troubling truth is that, outside of February, consistent and prominent displays of Black creative talent and artistic direction are exceedingly rare in Canada. Beyond Black History Month, Canada’s Black creatives and creative industry professionals experience what one of Canada’s leading Black professors, Katherine McKittrick, might refer to as an “absented presence.” This absenting of Canada’s Black creatives is especially revealed in the leadership and programming of Canada’s dominant cultural institutions, including major galleries, museums, art, film and performance spaces. This is why Canada needs a national policy on Black arts, culture and heritage.

Towards a national arts policy for Black Canadians

A national arts policy for Black Canadians would enable Canadian governments to fulfill the legislated promise of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. This Act recognizes multiculturalism as a “fundamental characteristic of Canadian society.” A proposed Black national arts policy, then, would leverage the diverse and dynamic profiles of Canada’s Black communities to support our country’s commitment to “a policy of multiculturalism designed to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Canadians while working to achieve the equality of all Canadians in the economic, social, cultural and political life of Canada.”

A Black Canadian national arts policy would also substantially enhance the principle of multiculturalism as a human rights instrument enshrined in Canada’s Constitution in section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Given the typical absence and erasure of Black arts, culture and heritage in Canada, protecting the “preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians” of African descent, through a national Black arts, culture and heritage policy is prudent policy intervention with significant value that transcends party lines.

Because of the aforementioned legal and constitutional provisions, Canadians and parties of all political stripes have a vested national interest in ensuring due respect and presence is afforded to Canada’s Black communities through arts, culture and heritage place-making. More specifically, the current government also has an interest in adopting a national Black arts policy because it would markedly enhance Canada’s commitment to implement the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.

Black Canada’s got tremendous talent

For decades, and particularly in the last year couple of years, the artistic excellence of Canada’s Black creative talents has abundantly demonstrated that now is the time for Canada’s adoption of a national policy for Black arts, culture and heritage.

Consider, for instance, some of the most recent Black Canadian successes in the literary arts alone:

  1. The 2019 winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama: “Other Side of the Game” by Amanda Parris;
  2. The 2019 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for debut novel, Reproduction by Ian Williams;
  3. A 2019 winner of the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in Fiction, Brother, by David Chariandy

This is to say nothing of Canada’s longtime literary treasures Dionne Brand, Andre Alexis, Esi Edugyan, Lawrence Hill, Dany Laferrière, M. NourbeSe Phillip, George Elliott Clarke, the late Austin Clarke, and many more. There’s also a coming tide of gifted breakout writers who are poised to soon follow in these writers’ footsteps, including Eternity Martis, Zalika Reid-Benta, Kagiso Lesego Molope, Chelene Knight, Desmond Cole, Téa Mutonji, Rebecca Fisseha, Nadia Hohn, Evan Winter, Whitney French, Djamila Ibrahim and Canisia Lubrin.

In music, Black Canada’s creative genius is also gaining increasing traction beyond the superstars Drake (including his OVO Sound mega artists and producers) and The Weeknd. For instance, in 2019, the Polaris Music Prize went to rapper Haviah Mighty for her album 13th Floor. Karena Evans is also making her mark as one of the hottest new award-winning video directors. There’s also the increasing embrace by the global hip-hop community of Juno award-winning artist Shad as a trusted and true hip-hop historian thanks to the ballooning success of the Canadian music documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution on Netflix.

In Hollywood, actor Stephan James and his brother, Shamier Anderson, are doing bigger and bigger things in front of the camera while breakout film director and screenwriter Stella Meghie’s filmmaking career has taken off in the US and Canada; her highly anticipated film The Photograph arrives in theatres this month. Also, actress Vinessa Antoine recently came to national attention as the lead character in Diggstown, the first Canadian drama series to feature a Black Canadian woman as its lead, also produced by fellow Black Canadian Floyd Kane. Finally, there is the growing fame of Winnie Harlow, who continues to change the game as a global fashion model and a public spokesperson with lived experience having the skin condition vitiligo.

These are some of the most prominent Black Canadian creatives recently achieving great successes. They’re doing so in a way that is defining and refining what it means to be not just be Black, but Black and Canadian.

Valuing Black arts is valuing Black people

Without a national policy or infrastructure and a strategy to support, sustain and/or nurture the creative and professional growth of the hundreds of thousands of young Black Canadians inspired by the above-mentioned successes, they are left without much needed support to pursue their own creative dreams. This policy gap contributes to the erasure of Black people from Canada’s collective consciousness.

This experience of Black Canadian erasure is captured by Black Canadian historian Cecil Foster, who has said: “In Canada, the norm has always been to either place blackness on the periphery of society by strategically and selectively celebrating Blacks only as a sign of how tolerant and non-racist white Canadians are (as is seen in the recurrence of the Underground Railroad as a positive achievement in a Canadian mythology of racial tolerance) or to erase blackness as an enduring way of life from the national imaginary.”

Canadian policymakers must realize that how Canada treats its Black creatives is an extension of how Canada’s Black communities are treated by Canadian society writ large. This connection is captured by a poignant comment made by Toronto hip-hop intellectual Ian Kamau, who has said, “Black music and Black art, like Black people, are undervalued in Canada”

This undervaluing of Black Canadian voices brings a sense of perpetual social and civic disposability to the Black experience in Canada that can feel suffocating. This undervaluing tends to make being Black in Canada feel like Blackness is only something to be put on display for temporary and specific purposes. It’s important that Canada boldly demonstrate that our country finds worth, value and meaning in Black Canadian life well beyond the short and cold days of February. We need to build on the good that comes out of Black History Month.

Black arts, well-being and belonging

Without a long-term, robustly resourced, multi-sectoral and intergovernmental national policy for Black arts, culture and heritage, Canada risks turning celebration into exploitation of Canada’s Black creative class (and by extension, of Canada’s Black communities). Not having a national framework for birthing, incubating and nurturing Canada’s Black talents is a lost opportunity for all Canadians. This is because such a policy would only advance the currency of Canada’s global cultural capital.

Finally, while many Black communities love Black History Month, it is also true that for many Black Canadians, it perpetuates a sense of Black disposability. It is a stark contrast to the almost complete loss of positive time and attention that Canada’s Black communities are given by governments and mainstream institutions the rest of the year.

A national Black arts, culture and heritage policy would help Black History Month to enhance its commemoration of Canada’s Black histories while also serving as a vehicle for an annual launch and exhibition of a year-long display of Black Canada’s diverse established and emerging talents. This would go a long way to not only fostering a deeper sense of belonging for Black Canadians (new and old) but also materially advancing the economic well-being of the Black creatives and administrators who too often struggle to support themselves and their art the rest of the year.

The Swahili word for creativity is kuumba, which has become a principle of Kwanzaa, the African diaspora’s cultural celebration. It’s time for an African Canadian Arts Council, and we could call it Kuumba Canada. Because our #BlackArtsMatter.

Source: Why Canada needs a national policy for Black arts, culture and heritage

Searching for Fred Christie, the Jamaican immigrant who tried to end legalized racism in Canada

Part of our history:

Fred Christie was no stranger to the York Tavern, a popular watering hole in the old Montreal Forum.

As a season ticket holder, Christie often dropped by the tavern during hockey season.

But this was the summer of 1936, boxing season, and unbeknown to Christie, the rules at the York were different in boxing season.

He walked in with two friends one Saturday night. The tavern was crowded. Christie slapped 50 cents on the table and asked for three beers.

The waiter said no. He explained that he’d been told not to serve black people. Christie went to the bar. The bartender told him the same thing. So did the manager.

So Christie, a private chauffeur, went to court. Eighty years ago this week, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its ruling.

In a 4-1 decision, the court recognized that staff at the York Tavern had refused to serve Christie “for the sole reason that they had been instructed not to serve coloured persons.”

However, the court concluded, merchants are free to serve who they please, and in turning Christie away, the York “was strictly within its rights.”

And with that, the highest court in the country enshrined racial discrimination in law.

It wasn’t until Quebec passed its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1975 that Christie vs. York ceased to have effect in the province — and seven years later in the rest of Canada when the federal charter was passed.

Black community rallies

The case has not surfaced in news coverage much since then.

As for Christie, he moved to Vermont not long after the decision and little is known about his life in the U.S.

But a prominent civil rights group in Montreal is using the anniversary of the 1939 Supreme Court decision to seek more recognition for Christie and the legal fight he mounted with the help of Montreal’s black community.

“It’s of major historical importance to the laws of this country and the fight for racial equality — as important as the battle of Viola Desmond in Nova Scotia,” said Fo Niemi, who heads the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

Niemi is hoping to persuade the federal government to issue a stamp in Christie’s honour or have him declared a person of national historical significance.

In the meantime, local historians are talking to parishioners at Union United Church, Montreal’s oldest black congregation, to gather more details about Christie.

It’s known he arrived in Montreal from his native Jamaica in 1919, settling in Verdun. According to one scholar, that neighbourhood might have appealed to Christie because it was not far from the Forum arena , and he was an avid sports fan.

Legalized racism differed from the U.S.

When Christie decided to take the York Tavern to court, Montreal’s black community rallied behind him. A young doctor, Kenneth Melville, chaired a committee that raised money to cover his legal costs.

Melville, also a Jamaican immigrant, was the first black medical student at McGill University and went on to chair the university’s pharmacology and therapeutics department.

The committee raised enough money by collecting nickels and dimes at barbershops, newsstands and churches.

“The black community was quite concerned about trying to acquire rights at a time when human rights legislation didn’t exist,” said Dorothy Williams, a historian who teaches black Montreal history at Concordia University.

“They were trying to set up an environment where they would have the same liberties and privileges that their white neighbours had.”

Legalized racism operated differently in Canada than in the United States, where a whole regime of segregation was spelled out in the so-called Jim Crow laws.

“Much of the legalized racism in Canada was enabled through private means,” said University of Alberta law Prof. Eric Adams, who has researched the Christie vs. York decision.

By invoking legal principles such as freedom of commerce, Canadian courts chose not to intervene in areas of social life where racial discrimination was occurring.

“The freedom and rights that mattered to the Supreme Court of Canada were the freedoms to conduct yourself in a racist manner,” Adams said.

In the absence of legal principles ensuring equality, which institutions chose to turn away black people at which time fluctuated in a seemingly arbitrary manner.

This helps explain why Christie would have been served at the York Tavern during hockey season but not during boxing season.

“We didn’t have written laws of segregation,” said Williams. “In Montreal, certain customs and mores were in place that made it very clear that certain people were not welcome in certain establishments.”

Law as a double-edged sword

The decision, which only runs 15 pages, was delivered just days after the start of the Second World War.

Writing for the majority, Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret claimed the York’s rule of not serving black people did not violate “good morals or public order.”

Adelle Blackett, a professor of labour law at McGill University, recalled how reading the decision as a first-year law student left her unsettled.

Blackett, who teaches the case regularly, read the decision again on Monday, 80 years to the day after it was delivered.

“I still found it painful, frankly, to read,” she said.

Even the dissent is “not exactly a strong articulation of the importance of human rights,” said Blackett, a former commissioner of Quebec’s Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

The lone dissenting judge, Henry Davis, argued the freedom of commerce principle shouldn’t apply because the York was benefiting from the provincial government’s control of the sale of liquor.

“It’s not rights language,” said Blackett. “It’s not: Mr. Christie, by virtue of being a human being deserving of dignity, has the right to be served and not discriminated against.”

“That’s the kind of specific language that comes through a charter of rights.”

The decision helps illustrate the ways in which human rights codes, which began to emerge after the Second World War, contributed to how Canadians interact with each other.

But for legal scholars, Christie vs. York is also a reminder that the law can be a double-edged sword — a source of protection and of oppression.

And that hasn’t changed.

“There is no monopoly on wisdom in our legal order,” said Adams.

Source: Searching for Fred Christie, the Jamaican immigrant who tried to end legalized racism in Canada

In wake of blackface scandal, actual Black Canadians left in out-of-cabinet cold

Along the lines of the previous post, just phrased more sharply but more rhetorical and easier than reviewing the record and making specific criticisms or proposals:

Justin Trudeau doesn’t care about Black people.

In a post-blackface Canada, with a post-blackface prime minister, Black representation in the House of Commons, the Senate, and the judiciary—much less cabinet—remains abysmal, with only a smattering of chocolate in a sea of mayonnaise. After all of the ostensibly remorse-filled, Lena Dunham-esque apologies, peppered with activist language such as “intersectionality” and “privilege,” one would think Justin Trudeau would’ve learned something. He did not. It was all a ruse to get Black votes, only to shut them out of the important decision-making positions.

He continues to perform in blackface.

The 2015 election seated the most ethnically diverse House of Commons in Canada’s history: five Black MPs were elected, all Liberals, three of whom were newly elected. This election held the total steady, but with four Liberals and one New Democrat. Given that the Liberals usually elect the most Black candidates, and they were the ones caught in blackface, it is more incumbent upon them to practice what they preach. And preach they do. Like Kanye at Joel Osteen’s bible study.

After Time Magazine revealed who our prime minister was, the need to put this behind them was paramount. So what does one do when faced with the revelation of such racially heinous act? You call your Black friend. Enter Greg Fergus.

In the last Parliament, MP Fergus twice held the position of parliamentary secretary, first to the to the innovation minister and then to the Treasury Board president. In the wake of the blackface scandal, Fergus was called upon to do his duty and he did so with alacrity; his was the most prominent Black face imploring Canadians to forgive and move on. He even had the support of prominent cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, who stood by his side, nodding, at a press conference. It was a grotesque display of whiteness, to have a Black man tell other Black people how they should feel about the PM committing such a racist act, flanked by a white woman.

In that moment Greg Fergus made himself an agent of colonialism and allowed himself to be used as window-dressing, or the Black face of a scandal involving blackface.

And what did he get for it? Why wasn’t Fergus awarded a cabinet position like his white counterparts for his unwavering loyalty, especially as someone who has been in the Liberal trenches since he was a tyke (he was president of the Young Liberals of Canada from 1994 to1996)? Tap dancing for whiteness never brings prosperity, especially in the ignominious position Fergus put himself in.

But here is where Black people must take some responsibility.

After Trudeau was caught with his face singed, a private meeting was held between the PM and a myriad of “Black leaders” (whoever they are) to enact Part 2 of the apology tour. While it is not known all of what happened at this meeting, what we do know is that apologies were given, Trudeau was forgiven (by them), and Black people in the 905 and 416 subsequently came out to vote Liberal. Like Greg Fergus, these “leaders” allowed themselves to be used. And that is the problem with Black leadership in this day and age: they are too happy with the crumbs from Massa’s table and are too quick to give up the currency of political power—the vote. And what did these old wise men (and I do mean men) negotiate for the Black community in exchange for their continued votes? Not a damn thing.

And this is where Black people are: no currency, no power, no payoff. We sold out our negotiating power—along with our souls—by keeping that meeting private. The lack of transparency gave Trudeau an out. Since he didn’t have to be accountable to anyone, they got played, meaning the entire community got played.

However, all is not lost. Many of the strides made by the Liberal government came about due to an extraordinary amount of advocacy work done by Black organizations, and not because Trudeau cares about the plight of Black people. Within a minority Parliament situation, Black Canadians have more power and it’s time to toss out these old dudes who can’t figure out the cloud and add younger, more diverse leadership in the Black community—including women, LGBTQ, disabled, poor, and working-class people. We can lift others up instead of the few in Black “leadership” who only act as gatekeepers to power, while rewarding themselves.

Black organizations need to start seeing other people. Every party should be lobbied by Black advocates (except the PPC, because screw them) because loyalty to the Liberal Party has just gotten Black people to the back of the bus.

There needs to be a targeted lobbying plan to address the ministries who have a hand in policies that primarily affect Black people. These ministries need to be diversified and adjusted to benefit Black needs, Black aspirations, and Black dreams. And once these dusty Black leaders finally find the exit, the community may get somewhere because not all skinfolk is kinfolk.

Source: In wake of blackface scandal, actual Black Canadians left in out-of-cabinet cold

Those who toil in low-wage jobs in the GTA more likely to be visible minorities

Of note:

The swelling ranks of Greater Toronto workers who pour coffee, clean offices and toil in other low-wage jobs are more likely to be visible minorities, according to a new report.

Although visible minorities make up just 46 per cent of the Toronto region’s workforce, they account for more than 63 per cent of the working poor, says the report being released Tuesday by the Metcalf Foundation.

Within each of the area’s four largest visible minority groups — Chinese, Black, South Asian and Filipino — the Black community has the highest percentage of working poor, at 10.5 per cent, says the report written by social policy expert John Stapleton, who used the latest census and Statistics Canada income data.

Second- and third-generation Black Canadians are especially vulnerable and often earn less than recent Black immigrants, according to the report.

Working poverty is lowest in the Filipino community, at 5.3 per cent, just above white residents at 4.8 per cent.

“It is striking and concerning that the Black population has the highest percentage of working poverty among both the immigrant population and those born in Canada,” says the report.

The growth in working poverty among and second- and third-generation Black Canadians is “particulary pronounced” among Black Canadian-born females, who saw an increase from 9.7 per cent in 2006 to 12.2 per cent in 2016, the report says.

As highlighted in a recent United Way report, the Toronto region is “coming to the uncomfortable realization that our increasing economic inequality is also highly racialized,” says University of Toronto professor David Hulchanski.

“We knew this, but now we have solid data and evidence,” says Hulchanski, who has been tracking disappearing middle-class neighbourhoods in the GTA and other Canadian cities for almost 50 years.

The report reflects “facts and trends that cannot continue if we want a productive, prosperous and harmonious Toronto region,” he adds.

The report is the second update of Stapleton’s groundbreaking 2012 analysis, which found working poverty in the Toronto region spiked by an alarming 46 per cent between 2001 and 2006, largely due to the demand for entry-level service workers to support the burgeoning high-paid knowledge sector. This includes lawyers, business and finance professionals.

Over the past decade, working poverty grew by another 27 per cent, Tuesday’s report shows.

“Although this slower growth is a welcome trend, the continued growth is troubling,” Stapleton says.

High rates of working poverty along with data that points to “the racialization” of working poverty is a serious public policy concern, he says.

“These trends ought to be considered unacceptable anywhere, and definitely in the wealthiest and most diverse metropolitan area of an affluent nation,” Stapleton says. “We all lose out when a significant part of our labour force cannot make ends meet.”

Black community scholars Carl James and Kofi Hope, who independently analyzed the report’s race-based data, say the findings have to be seen in the context of “the reality of anti-Black racism, and the reluctance of Canadians to acknowledge that this phenomenon has existed in our nation for hundreds of years.”

“This report shows why it is important to collect disaggregated data,” says James, who holds the Jean Augustine chair in education, community and diaspora at York University’s faculty of education. “And it also shows why it is important to disaggregate the visible minority category.”

Soha Mohamed, 29, a decent work project facilitator at the Victoria Park Hub in Scarborough, says the Metcalf report paints a “disappointing” portrait of the experience of Black workers.

“But it doesn’t come as a shock, especially for me, personally, and my own relationship to precarious work,” adds Mohamed, a Black woman whose part-time contract, with no benefits, expires next March.

“Even though my work is to promote stable employment and opportunities for job advancement, health and pension benefits, equality and rights at work for women, it’s also something that I aspire to achieve,” she says.

Mohamed, who has two young daughters, immigrated to Canada with her parents from Sudan when she was 5. Combined with child benefits and her partner’s meagre income as an upholsterer, their household income falls below Canada’s Low-Income Measure of about $47,000 after taxes for a family of four in 2017.

“I am already looking for work because I know my current contract won’t be extended,” she said. “There is always that level of uncertainty. What happens next? How will I pay the rent?”

The report defines the working poor as people between the ages of 18 and 64 who are not students, are living independently and have an annual after-tax income between $3,000 and the Low-Income Measure of $22,133 in 2015, the year the most recent census was taken.

By this measure, 7 per cent of Toronto workers — almost 170,000 — are “working poor.”

The working poor tend to be younger and less educated than the overall working population. And they are more likely to be men, a reflection of the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area that tended to be dominated by male workers.

Although the data doesn’t show why the growth in working poverty has slowed in the past decade, increases to the minimum wage and new and increased income supplements for people living in poverty likely helped, Stapleton says.

“These interventions, which continue to moderate the incidence of working poverty, illustrate that governments have a crucial role to play in assuring adequate incomes for residents,” says the report by the Metcalf Foundation, which is dedicated to equity, sustainability and the arts.

Strategies to reduce working poverty also need to address systemic and structural issues that continue to marginalize the Black community, the report adds.

Society needs to value work done by those in lower-paying jobs and find a way to turn them into full-time, less precarious employment.

“We believe that through higher wages, better job stability, anti-racism strategies, and more effective support programs, Toronto could reduce and even eradicate working poverty,” Stapleton says in the report.

Many of the factors driving working poverty among all GTA residents — including being a young worker, having no post-secondary education, and living outside the downtown core — are common among Black Canadians, say York University’s James and Hope, a senior policy adviser at the Wellesley Institute.

A February 2019 Statistics Canada report says 26.6 per cent of the Black population was under age 15, while only 16.7 per cent of the overall Canadian population was in that age group.

According to the Toronto District School Board, Black students — particularly males — are more likely than other students to be suspended or expelled from school and have a higher dropout rate.

And Black people in Toronto are also disproportionately watched, stopped and “carded” by police, leading to higher rates of criminalization, they add.

As far as intergenerational working poverty, James and Hope say it appears the longer Black families live in Canada and interact with Canadian institutions, “the more difficult it becomes for them to overcome entrenched barriers.”

“Further research is needed to look more closely at the ways anti-Black racism manifests to produce barriers to Black people’s success in the labour market,” they say. “This research is critical to moving forward if we are to get a full picture of what is happening within Black communities, and what policy and community responses are necessary to change this situation.”

Source: Those who toil in low-wage jobs in the GTA more likely to be visible minorities

Black families twice as likely to go hungry as white households, study shows

Disturbing findings:

Black households in Canada are almost twice as likely as white households to have trouble putting food on the table due to lack of money, according to groundbreaking new research based on Statistics Canada’s community health survey.

This is the case even when Black people are homeowners and have the same income, education levels and household makeup as white people, said Leslie Campbell, director of programs for FoodShare, which partnered with the University of Toronto on the research.

The data shows for the first time that there is a direct correlation between race and food insecurity, independent of all other factors, said Campbell, who presented the findings at a FoodShare conference on food justice and equity on Wednesday.

“When you look at the whole population, there are certain factors that are seen as being protective,” Campbell said in an interview. “But when you look only at the Black population … all of a sudden, they don’t apply.”

“For example, while it matters greatly for white folks whether your household is headed by a single parent, for Black households, you have a significantly higher probability of food insecurity regardless of your household composition,” Campbell said.

The study suggests “there are other factors — structural barriers that Black communities are having to navigate — that mean the rules don’t apply in the same way when it comes to protection,” he said.

The findings impact everyone, he told the conference. That is because people in households struggling to pay for food cost Ontario’s health care system an average of $3,930 annually, more than twice as much as those in households where food is plentiful, who cost the system an average of $1,608.

The findings are based on data pooled from five Canadian community health surveys from 2004 to 2014 and include responses from almost 500,000 individuals. The study focuses on respondents who answered all the questions on household food security and who reported their ethno-racial identity as either Black or white.

The survey, which asks 18 questions related to food and hunger, defines “food insecurity” as marginal, moderate or severe.

People in households that are marginally food-insecure are worried about running out of money to buy food. Moderate food-insecure households may struggle to buy enough food, or have to skimp on quality and nutrition. People in households experiencing severe food insecurity are missing meals due to lack of income.

According to the analysis, one in eight Canadian households — or four million people — is experiencing food insecurity. But when broken down into white and Black households — before adjusting for income, education and other factors — just 10 per cent of white households are food-insecure, while more than 28 per cent of Black households have trouble affording the food they need, the study found. After adjusting for external factors, Black households are still 1.88 times more likely to have trouble paying for the food they need, the study found.

The picture looks even bleaker for kids. While just over 12 per cent of white children are food-insecure, almost 34 per cent of Black kids — one in three — are struggling, the data shows. Food insecurity among children is linked to learning problems, greater difficulty recovering from illness and long-term health problems such as depression and asthma, according to the study.

“I have to say, I was a bit heartbroken to see how bad it was, in particular for Black children,” said Valerie Tarasuk, principal investigator for U of T’s PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research program.

“Even after taking into account things like income and home ownership and education, we still find a substantial differential” between Black and white households, she said in an interview.

“This study says it matters for us to get a grip on race issues in Canada,” she said.

“I think our study really screams that there needs to be much, much more attention (paid) to the ways in which governments at all levels can use their policy levers to offset what has to be a fairly significant level of race-based discrimination in the workplace, the housing market, the education system, in corrections and other places,” she added.

Home ownership is seen as a buffer to food insecurity because households facing a sudden loss of income or an unexpected expense can borrow against the value of their homes to make ends meet.

“But when you compare the Black homeowner to the white, they have way less protection,” Tarasuk said.

In fact, the study found the risk of food insecurity among Black homeowners was the same as for a white renter, she noted.

The only explanation is that Black households have lower-value homes or carry higher mortgages, or both, she said.

“It’s another illustration of the ways in which accumulated wealth in our country is racialized,” Tarasuk said.

Among all Canadians who experience food insecurity, the study found that 62 per cent are employed.

Since income is the largest single protective factor that determines whether a household has trouble paying for food, Campbell said the study findings point to the lower quality of Black employment.

Jobs without benefits and part-time, contract and other forms of precarious employment impact a household’s ability to afford food, he said.

Quality of employment isn’t just about whether people are contract or full-time employees, Campbell added. It also relates to a worker’s position and salary.

FoodShare advocates for equitable access to fresh, healthy, affordable food for everyone and partners with schools and community groups to provide low-cost, locally sourced fruits and vegetables through student nutrition programs, neighbourhood gardens, local markets and other initiatives.

The non-profit organization recently raised the salaries of its lowest-paid employees by 25 per cent to reduce pay inequities, said executive director Paul Taylor. The agency also tries to ensure diverse populations are included in recruitment efforts.

A universal basic income would help people experiencing severe food insecurity, Taylor said.

“But more holistically, we really need to look at systemic discrimination in housing, education, policing and employment that all disproportionately, it seems, have an impact on Black folks,” he said.

The collection of more race-based data — particularly related to employment — would be a good place to start, he added.

Source: Black families twice as likely to go hungry as white households, study shows