Black advocates must put cause ahead of career

Desmond Cole’s counterpoint to Karen Carter’s earlier column (My activism is better than yours | Toronto Star) and critique of the Federation of Black Canadians.

Ironically, his commentary appears a few days after Budget 2018 provided significant funding to help address issues facing the community, where the Federation (or at least its chairperson) is being given public credit:

Nearly three months ago in a Toronto library, I stood with El Jones, a devoted activist and professor from Halifax, and asked the federal minister responsible for immigration to stop the deportation of a black youth who grew up in Canada. The exchange I had with Minister Ahmed Hussen that morning was like many with government officials — he asked for more information and agreed to follow up.

I feel responsible for what happens to Abdoul Abdi, 24, a refugee who came to Nova Scotia from Somalia at age 6, was taken into the child welfare system, and never got his citizenship because the government, his legal guardian, never applied for it. I’m lucky to be in a position to raise my voice for Abdi, and I have made many sacrifices so I can speak as openly as I need to for Black people across Canada.

I regularly meet Black folks who encourage me to speak out, who say they cannot for fear of compromising themselves, especially in their workplaces. While I truly understand how they feel, I also believe that Abdi is still in Canada because Black Canadians and many others have publicly told the government to stop his deportation. People who are not free to make such demands, or who refuse to, can never propel the libratory changes Black people in Canada need.

A new group calling itself the Federation of Black Canadians (FBC) is led by well-connected Black people who cannot, or who choose not to demand Abdi’s freedom. I don’t believe the judges, police officers and corrections officials who helped create FBC can speak to Abdi’s particular situation, nor do I think they can openly critique their own institutions — the courts, the prison system, the law enforcement regime — without jeopardizing their careers. This obvious fact, bears repeating given the sudden rise of the previously unknown FBC.

The FBC is led by chairperson Donald McLeod, a sitting judge in the Ontario Court of Justice. Whatever duty McLeod feels to our community, he also has a professional duty to the court. The Ontario Principles of Judicial office state judges “must avoid any conflict of interest, or the appearance of any conflict of interest,” in the performance of their duties; that a judge “must not participate in any partisan political activity;” that an Ontario judge “should not lend the prestige of their office to fundraising activities.”

McLeod has spent the last 18 months building the group now called the Federation. During that time he has held meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, and a host of Liberal cabinet and caucus members, including Hussen.

More shockingly, freelance journalist Ron Fanfair reports that, after high-level meetings with the federal government in 2017, McLeod “received a call from Ottawa indicating they would prefer the initiative to be national.”

McLeod’s behaviour, including his reported willingness to take direction from Ottawa about the FBC, gives the strong appearance of conflict of interest and partisanship.

The Federation has no formal bylaws, constitution, or public membership, yet it is asking for donations, with McLeod saying he wants Black people to scrounge up our “toonies and loonies and fives and tens” to fund the initiative.

Again, this behaviour appears to conflict with the rules of his office. Even if it doesn’t conflict, such conduct is not good enough for Black people fighting in our name.

On Sunday, Ebyan Farah left the Foundation steering committee — the group claimed her term of service had simply ended. Farah is the spouse of Hussen, and it only took days after I publicized this news for her to leave abruptly, without further explanation.

Imagine Farah, as part of the Federation, wanting to advocate for Abdi but knowing her husband may be ultimately responsible for the refugee’s fate. This compromised advocacy is what the Federation of Black Canadians is offering us, and we must do better.

Karen Carter took space in this publication Tuesday to criticize me for “personally attacking” McLeod (I never have).

Interestingly, a Feb. 23 tweet by MP Melanie Joly tweet shows Carter sitting next to McLeod at a meeting with Joly at BAND, Carter’s Black-owned art gallery. Carter says there are many ways for Black people to advocate, and that all are valid — I disagree.

We can only get free by putting the plight of people like Abdi ahead of our own access to power, safety, and comfort.

via Black advocates must put cause ahead of career | Toronto Star

Suspicion of immigrants is a Canadian value: Cole

Element of truth in what Cole writes but lacks balance and nuance in failing to acknowledge attitudes and policies have and continue to evolve.

And are some of the ‘values’ talked about only a “reflection of our colonial, white, British, monarchical heritage,” or are they not broader and more universal?:

Conservative MP and party leadership contender Kellie Leitch doesn’t really want a conversation on Canadian values. The callous Leitch, who has been insisting lately that we consider a values test for prospective immigrants, simply wants to boost her brand by playing to racist and xenophobic fears of some Conservative party supporters. Modern conservative groups keep questioning immigrants’ values because they know their liberal political opponents, who are prone to the same prejudiced scapegoating, will struggle to condemn them.

Many have criticized Leitch’s proposal by saying it is impractical, since no one person or group can define or determine Canadian values. That’s a nice idea, but in practice we know the values our politicians attempt to sell us are a reflection of our colonial, white, British, monarchical heritage. There are such things as Canadian values, and they explain how our politicians have been peddling a fear of foreigners for the last 150 years.

Suspicion of all immigrants who are not white, or are not members of the former British Empire, is a Canadian value. Canada’s founding prime minister, John A. Macdonald, argued that Chinese immigrants to Canada were unfit to vote because they exhibited “no British instincts or British feelings or aspirations.” Macdonald didn’t need to cloak the authority of the state in the language of wanting a “conversation” about immigrants, as Leitch does today. In his time, there was no conversation to be had.

Assurances that we no longer live in the 19th century are beside the point. Every politician from Macdonald to Leitch has been able to bank on significant support by distinguishing between British or Canadian values and those of everyone else. Yes, even many newer immigrants echo these suspicions of outsiders’ customs or beliefs. They may hail from countries that our government is wary of. The pressure on these newcomers to conform — to validate the wisdom of the system that chose them, to scrutinize those who come after them — must be overwhelming.

Of course, all of this is only possible because of another fundamental Canadian value: erasure. Our modern mythology suggests that indigenous people were never here, or that if they were, their values and customs gave way to a superior British way of life. Our history books and our educational resources for prospective new Canadians have little to say about the values and traditions of indigenous people. British colonialism made outsiders of people who had been here for thousands of years, and cast their values aside.

That’s how a white man in a red coat who carries a weapon and patrols stolen land has come to symbolize the enforcement of Canadian values. We are taught to honour the force Mounties used to Anglicize this land, to view the guy in red as a symbol of honour and patriotism, no matter what despicable crimes he carries out. The values of dominance and separation enforced by the modern RCMP, and the Canadian Border Services Agency, are not universal or self-evident — they are steeped in centuries of racism, colonialism, and white supremacy.

Leitch may not win her leadership contest, but the fact her naked appeal to prejudice can still spur “debate” in this country says it all. Polls suggest a majority of Canadians agree with Leitch’s call to screen immigrants for good values. Few of us really care about the content of the questionnaire. What we care about is our very Canadian right to demand that immigrants be questioned, scrutinized, and weighed against the comfort and well-being of those already established here.

Conservatives are more likely to support the traditional dominant values openly. It was Leitch who announced a 2015 Conservative campaign proposal to create a “barbaric cultural practices hotline.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has cast himself as being far more progressive on immigration and cultural issues, had little to say about the Macarthyist snitch line — Trudeau and his party had quietly voted in favour of a Conservative law called the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” only four months before the election.

Maybe one day, we will be able to have genuine conversations about human values that transcend not only borders, but so many other ideological barriers we still use to divide one another. For the moment, the state and its actors keep pretending there is something especially benevolent about being Canadian, and the culture wars continue.

Source: Suspicion of immigrants is a Canadian value: Cole | Toronto Star

Non-citizen voting in local elections is long overdue: Cole

Desmond Cole on municipal voting for non-citizens. While I understand this position, have never been convinced by the arguments in favour of municipal voting, as most of these also could be applied to provincial and federal voting (e.g., healthcare and education provincially, EI and employment programs federally).

Given that Canadian citizenship is relatively accessible (apart from the fees!) in contrast to many European countries, simpler and more effective from a political integration perspective to encourage and facilitate citizenship, with the full range of voting rights:

Immigrants are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and the source of much of its growth. Our government deems newcomers fit to live, work, invest and raise families here, but somehow unfit to make electoral decisions about the laws and regulations that govern their lives. Sheesh.

While municipalities all over the world allow at least some non-citizen residents to vote in local elections, Ontario’s politicians have long seemed afraid to follow suit.

Interestingly, our provincial political parties allow non-citizens to buy party memberships and to vote in partisan leadership contests. Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown allegedly signed up more than 40,000 new party members during his recent leadership bid, many of them from so-called “cultural communities” (i.e. black and brown first- and second-generation immigrants). His campaign didn’t ask if all these folks were Canadian citizens — it wasn’t deemed a relevant factor to their ability to partake in that democratic process.

Canadians seem increasingly supportive of allowing some non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. City councils in Toronto and North Bay have formally asked the province to enfranchise non-citizens who have obtained permanent residency; officials in Halifax, and in five municipalities in New Brunswick, have made the same request of their respective provincial governments.

This was what I hoped for all those years ago with I Vote Toronto and in retrospect I am only sorry I didn’t push the threshold even further than permanent residency.

Before 1988 in Ontario, you didn’t have to be a citizen to vote. You had to reside or hold property in the municipality where you planned to vote; Nova Scotia allowed non-citizen British subjects to vote in local elections until 2007.

The need to vote and the benefits of being able to do so — for permanent residents, foreign workers, students and undocumented people — are just as critical for new immigrants as they are for citizens. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals should acknowledge this and extend the municipal franchise to all non-citizen residents.

Source: Non-citizen voting in local elections is long overdue: Cole | Toronto Star

Robyn Urback: On that contentious Black Lives Matter tweet…

One of the better commentaries:

…. I sort of understand why members of the Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) group all but shrugged this week in response to a controversial tweet put out by one of its co-founders. The tweet was originally posted back in February, but only came to light this week after Jerry Agar, a local Toronto radio host, reported on it on his show. In the tweet, BLMTO co-founder Yusra Khogali wrote, “Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz.”

It was a dumb thing to post, especially for a leader of movement that — one would think — would want to covet potential allies rather than ostracize them. And it shouldn’t be surprising that some people found it offensive. But rather than acknowledge the inappropriateness of the tweet, apologize for it and move on, BLMTO members dug in their heels and went on the defence: the group’s other co-founder, Sandy Hudson, refused to comment on it during an interview with a local television station, and instead criticized the reporter for focusing on the tweet, rather than the issues about which BLMTO was trying to get attention. In the Toronto Star, journalist and activist Desmond Cole explained Khogali’s tweet as a “common response to violence and injustice,” “an honest appeal to restraint and wisdom in the face of violence, racism and misogyny.” And Khogali herself refused to comment on the issue altogether.

Meanwhile, critics of the BLMTO movement latched onto the tweet as a sort of “smoking gun,” which supposedly proved the violent intentions of the group. But to make that assertion is a pretty remarkable stretch: people say and post all sorts of hyperbolic things when they’re angry — and despite some progress in recent years, black Canadians still have plenty to be angry about — but that doesn’t mean they actually intend to act on it. And it also doesn’t mean that the group’s core message should be wholly discredited because its co-founder posted one thoughtless, offensive tweet.

None of this is to say that Khogali’s tweet was in any way acceptable, though her defenders have demonstrated some phenomenal mental gymnastics in attempting to explain why it’s somehow OK to post a prayer to God, asking for the strength not to kill people of a certain group and gender. It’s not. The impulse to hunker down in this case is understandable, especially as BLMTO is slammed with criticism, seemingly from all sides. But it’s ultimately disingenuous: no group is, or should be, above criticism — not Black Lives Matter, not Orthodox rabbis in New York, not National Post columnists who, perhaps unwisely, wade into the most contentious of social issues.

BLMTO representatives say they would prefer we talk about carding, or wage discrepancies, or violence against blacks at the hands of police — which are all worthy topics of discussion. But at the same time, there is no better way to get people interested in a tweet than insisting that the media stop talking about it. Had BLMTO led the discussion, and heard the criticism, I suspect the conversation would have been over by now.

Source: Robyn Urback: On that contentious Black Lives Matter tweet…

Shunning hatred online won’t make it go away: Cole

Desmond Cole on the tendency of media outlets to eliminate online comment sections:

Few people are mourning the disappearance of online comment sections in major media outlets. CBC recently removed public feedback for all stories involving indigenous people; the Toronto Sun and the Star have done away with the feature altogether. Gone is the fear of scrolling down too far in an online story, and taking in the hateful filth of mostly anonymous provocateurs that had become so common. As a bonus, cash-strapped media outlets who kill comment forums no longer have to pay staff to police them. Everybody wins, right?

But beware: the “block” function doesn’t transpose so easily into our live, face-to-face encounters. It’s tempting to ignore the hatred and discrimination we hear at work, in transit, at the dinner table. But while it’s not always safe or advisable to confront such oppression head on, we need to find ways to challenge it. The instinct behind the closing of comments sections is perfectly understandable, but looking away from the worst in our culture is generally not a path to progress, and can leave vulnerable people at the mercy of the haters.

Ontario’s Liberal government, for instance, should be applauded for its work to establish a clear definition of sexual violence and harassment for the first time. The government’s provocative “It’s Never OK” ad campaign against sexual violence has earned lots of attention; a set of proposed legal changes also deserve public consideration. We know, for example, that employers in Ontario regularly encounter sexual harassment in the workplace, and often choose to ignore it.

….It’s dangerous to dismiss oppression anywhere, including the rampant misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and racism that can dominate internet forums. It may be pragmatic for media outlets to eliminate it from their pages, but it endures in the hearts of hateful people. As we move to limit the impact of oppression online, let’s not fool ourselves that we can shun it without consequence in the many places we find it.

Source: Shunning hatred online won’t make it go away: Cole | Toronto Star

Ontario sets strict new limits on police street checks

Changes to carding, the new Ontario policy:

You will be told you have the right to walk away. You will be told the interaction is voluntary. You will be told that you do not have to give any information, and why you are being stopped and asked for it to begin with.

You will be provided with a written record of your interaction, given information about the officer, and informed about the police complaints system.

In a move hailed as historic — and overdue — the Ontario government is proposing a strict set of regulations banning all random and arbitrary police stops, and setting limits on how and when police can question and document citizens.

“The regulation makes it very clear that police officers cannot stop you to collect your personal information simply based on the way you look or the neighbourhood you live in,” Yasir Naqvi, Ontario’s minister of community safety and correctional services, announced at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

“This is the first rights-based framework surrounding these police interactions in our history.”

Source: Ontario sets strict new limits on police street checks | Toronto Star

And Desmond Cole’s reminder that rules need to be accompanied by cultural change:

The Wynne government is finally acknowledging that residents’ stories of intimidation and surveillance are credible, and deserve a response. It’s a welcome, if long overdue, development. But new rules cannot, on their own, reverse a police culture of aggression and hostility towards residents, especially black Torontonians. We can’t regulate decency and respect in policing, but we must nevertheless demand it.

… Too many residents — especially those who are black, indigenous, homeless, or living with mental illness — can recount stories similar to Miller’s. They rarely have the video evidence to prove what we should all collectively know by now: the police regularly abuse their authority when dealing with vulnerable and marginalized people.

New rules and technologies can help discourage bad behaviour and hold officers to account when they transgress, but without tackling the ingrained culture of police intimidation no real solution to this problem is possible. Indeed, the arresting officers in Miller’s incident directed their TAVIS colleagues to “turn the camera on that guy,” to use their recording devices as a tool of intimidation. Equipping police with body cameras is different from insisting that police respect all residents, and ensuring that those who do not are taken off the streets.

Likewise, provincial rules on carding, which have simply not existed until now, can’t fully eliminate arbitrary police stops or disproportionate police suspicion of black people. It makes no difference that the TAVIS officers who accosted Miller are themselves black; if the expectation in police culture is to treat black residents with greater suspicion and less respect, all officers must fall in line, or must face internal scrutiny for failing to play the game.

It took too long for the province to object to carding. It will be many months before the new regulations are critiqued, modified and passed. Even then, it will be up to local police services boards, many of whom have shown no interest in stopping carding, to make the proposed changes real. But carding is just an ugly manifestation of the dominant social belief that blacks and other marginalized people need to be kept in line with aggression, dominance, and disrespect.

Subtle racism is the real threat: Cole

Desmond Cole on subtle racism, following UofT’s ‘White Student Union’ controversy:

The SFWC [Students For Western Civilization] website also features an interview with University of New Brunswick professor Ricardo Duchesne, who claims that “there is a real bias in university against white students, against white history.” Duchesne is the founder of the Council of European Canadians, whose mission statement proclaims that “Canada should remain majority, not exclusively, European in its ethnic composition and cultural character.”

For the moment, these messages of blatant white supremacy, and resentment for racialized people and movements, are thankfully unwelcome in mainstream Canadian conversation. That could change, of course, which is why it is important to challenge and oppose Duchesne, SFWC and their sympathizers. But we must also recognize them as merely the leading edge of a racist undercurrent in Canada, a mainstream fear that insists white people are under attack, but skilfully avoids examining what whiteness is or where it originated.

Race is a social construct, a false classification of humanity with no basis in science. However, thanks to our human history of European colonialism, slavery, and appropriation, whiteness has been established in Canada as an unscrutinized norm, a blank standard against which all other races are measured.

In Canada, white people are rarely named as a definitive group of people with a common identity or culture, a collective existence or set of values. Instead, whiteness stands invisible behind the camera and the microphone, examining the actions of others and demanding an explanation without acknowledging its role in framing nearly all mainstream conversions.

This is why, for example, a Canadian national newspaper can publish the headline, “We can’t keep tiptoeing around black-on-black violence,” as if the public is consumed with some other form of intra-racial violence, or would even validate that, say, white-on-white violence, exists or is a problem. It is why I, as a well-known black Canadian, am routinely asked my opinion about the actions of alleged black criminals, when it is the opinions of our white-dominated media that truly guide that narrative.

Most political observers and even casual news watchers remember city councillor and former mayor Rob Ford’s statement that “Oriental people work like dogs.” That kind of shameless racism gnaws at our Canadian sensibilities. But few people remember that Ford, whose heritage is hardly indigenous to North America, also said that East Asian people are “slowly taking over.”

Ford didn’t have to say what “Orientals” were taking over or, more importantly, from whom they were taking over. Similarly, when Conservative politician Larry Miller recently said that Muslim women in Canada who cover their faces should “stay the hell where you came from,” he did so without irony despite the fact that his own ancestry is not indigenous to Canada.

We can all recognize overt racism, and we should all condemn it, but our bigger problem is the subtle, unexamined sort. While we may reject uncomfortable notions of white student groups and organizations that promote European “cultural character,” most of us are more accepting of the equally racist notion of a dominant “Western civilization” they employ as a substitute for talking openly about whiteness.

Our unacknowledged assumptions, and our language about human diversity are better indicators of racism and discrimination than the impolite outbursts we seem so prone to recognizing. The clumsy expressions of hatred on local university campuses this week are like weeds — we can tear out the unsightly offshoots that pop up, but ultimately we have to address the problem at its root.

Premier Wynne, give us the data on police carding | Desmond Cole

Agree. The data should and needs to be shared:

Last week, the province launched a public consultation on police carding, the controversial practice of stopping and documenting civilians who are not suspected of any crime (some police forces use the terms “street checks” or “proactive policing” to describe the practice). The news is welcome and overdue — for years, police forces across Ontario have been disproportionately carding people with dark skin in the name of public safety.

The consultation includes an online survey, whose opening paragraph claims that “information collected during street checks may help solve and prevent crime.” Our police have never produced any data to back up this critical argument, and the province fails to do so in its consultation. If Queen’s Park wants meaningful public input on carding, it must publish independent, province-wide data showing how often carding happens, whom it tends to affect, and how much relevant information, if any, it produces.

Carding remains controversial in part because police tend to suppress data about it. The few existing stats tell us nothing about the relationship between carding and public safety. But data from police in Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto is clear about carding’s racial bias; in each of these cities, black residents are overwhelmingly the most likely people to be carded.

Only 5 per cent of Ottawa residents are black, but 20 per cent of people carded in the nation’s capital in recent years have been black. Since 2010, Hamilton police have carded blacks at a rate of three to four times their share of the local population. The total number of people carded in Toronto dropped sharply in 2013, but during the same period the share of blacks being carded actually went up. This is the reality in three of Ontario’s five most populated cities.

The police forces responsible for this skewed policing deny there is any problem, and simultaneously hide relevant info on their activities. In June, Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau claimed his force did not collect information on the racial breakdown of carding incidents. A month later under growing public scrutiny, Ottawa police produced the race-based data the chief claimed they didn’t have.

…Officers with the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) have done the majority of Toronto police’s carding in recent years. TAVIS has refused the Star’s requests for data on the number of its contacts that result in arrests or the recovery of guns. However TAVIS data from 2008, the most recent year available, shows that officers failed to lay charges during 98 per cent of carding interactions; that same year, TAVIS officers recovered a firearm once in every 650 times they carded a resident.

Premier Wynne, give us the data on police carding | Toronto Star.

Toronto Mayor John Tory calls for end to carding – Toronto – CBC News

Quite a change from his earlier position (not a bad thing in itself to be flexible and respond to public pressure):

Tory said the issue has been among “the most personally agonizing” since he became mayor.

“After great personal reflection and many discussions … I concluded it was time to say, enough. It was time to acknowledge there is no real way to fix a practice which has come to be regarded as illegitimate, disrespectful and hurtful.

“It was better to start over.”

Tory said his discussions included a talk with journalist Desmond Cole, who recently wrote about his experiences with carding for Toronto Life.

Cole said he was “overjoyed” with the mayor’s move, but cautioned that more action is needed.

“This has been a long time coming,” Cole told reporters. “Now we have to make sure [Tory] and the police services board and Chief Mark Saunders follow-up on this announcement … so carding is actually ended. So we’ll wait and see.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory calls for end to carding – Toronto – CBC News.

Christie Blatchford’s take:

Carding aside, what’s interesting here is that as of last week, presumably shortly before he hopped that plane to Edmonton, Tory was proudly standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Toronto’s new police chief, Mark Saunders, in defending the practice — always with a view to reforming it and improving it, he said (as indeed does the chief) but defending it nonetheless, and seemingly with sincerity.

It was a brave, if politically dangerous, position to take, I thought, and reinforced the romantic notion I think I had of the new mayor. (Before running for mayor, he was the host of a radio show on Newstalk 1010, where I was a regular guest, and I came to like him very much, and still do.)

But he is a politician, after all, and one who after several unsuccessful forays in politics has landed in a job he absolutely loves and for which he seems tailor-made: He works like a dog, is out and about every weekend at this festival or that, and has been by most measures a pretty good mayor.

And politicians, perhaps particularly those who enjoy the work and relentless social contact it entails, don’t like being unloved.

The voices against carding were rising; nothing said that better than a press conference last week featuring all manner of former civic leaders (why, they ran the gamut from A to B, from Gordon Cressy to David Crombie) denouncing the practice. And the voices against it were also louder (the Star has made it a veritable campaign, with at least one of its columnists suggesting pretty directly that Tory was a racist for supporting carding) than any on the other side.

I suspect internal polling numbers told Tory this was not a fight he would win, and that his support, even for a reformed version of carding, might define his mayoralty. And it’s a more believable explanation than the revelation-in-a-taxi or the epiphany-on-the-streetcar.

Christie Blatchford: Epiphanies on playing the cards right

How we can all stand up against carding | Desmond Cole

Desmond Cole, the author of the Toronto Life article on his experiences with discrimination, on the role that all of us can play:

As the realities of police carding become more known in Toronto, the public is increasingly rejecting the practice. Sixty per cent of respondents to a recent Forum poll disapprove of carding, the Toronto police practice of stopping civilians who are not suspected of any crime, and documenting their personal identification. Black voters, who admittedly made up a small sample size in the survey, rejected carding to the tune of 81 per cent. Given that innocent black people are disproportionately the targets of carding, this is no surprise.

Since I wrote a Toronto Life feature on discrimination, in which I documented the many times I have been needlessly stopped or carded by Toronto police, I’ve received hundreds of messages from people asking what they can do to counter this shady practice. I propose a simple but revolutionary intervention that nearly anyone can take up: if you see a black person being stopped in public by Toronto police, simply approach that person and ask, “Are you OK?”

In my experience, this suggestion evokes a curious amount of anxiety in people, particularly white people, the vast majority of whom are never arbitrarily stopped by police. They wonder if they might be putting themselves in danger by intervening in a police interaction.

To this I can only reply that in 2013, black Torontonians were up to 17 times more likely than white residents to be carded by police in certain neighbourhoods, particularly those with a majority of white residents. Those who are not targeted in this way might consider how scary it is for those who live it every day.

How we can all stand up against carding | Toronto Star.