MP says feds stall promise to act on anti-black racism one year after Trudeau pledge

Money was in the 2018 budget so it appears the issue is more with respect to implementation. Given the previous hollowing out of the multiculturalism program and the time needed to rebuild capacity, not that surprising expect perhaps to MPs and stakeholders:

Federal efforts to address systemic issues affecting black Canadians appear to have stalled one year after the prime minister made it an issue, says the head of Parliament’s black caucus as he put words to simmering frustrations with the slow pace of change.

It was a year ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for action to ensure equal opportunity and treatment for the more than one million black Canadians to address the “very real and unique challenges that black Canadians face,” including anti-black racism.

The cross-party caucus chairman, Greg Fergus, a Liberal MP from Quebec, described Sunday how the words were the culmination of a long lobbying effort that included politicians from different parties, political assistants and grassroots organizations.

Fergus said he thought the speech would mark a change in how the federal government interacted with black communities.

Instead, he said, the bureaucracy, which moves the machinery of government, doesn’t seem to have responded.

“I thought once you get the prime minister saying it, the whole system responds. But I have discovered how mistaken I was,” Fergus said during a panel discussion at a national summit Sunday.

“If there is not buy-in from the public service — if the public service, the machinery of government is not reflective of the diversity of the country, and doesn’t see that the black community is an important community that you want to deal with — it’s like Astroturf … it exists on the top but there are no roots.”

The two-day National Black Canadians Summit, which was the second one organized by former governor general Michaelle Jean’s foundation, kicked off Saturday.

The first summit laid out areas where the federal government needed to prioritize for work or strengthen efforts.

This time around, the aim is to connect different groups to mobilize the voices of the 1.2 million black Canadians to effectively lobby politicians as the country lurches towards a federal election in the fall.

Fergus’s comments put into focus frustrations voiced during the summit about federal efforts under the banner of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, which requires governments to address systemic barriers in laws, services and housing, for instance, for black communities.

Fergus suggested his experience over the last year shows that lobbying isn’t a one-time event, but a constant push.

The Liberals have promised $19 million over five years for mental health and youth programs for black communities, and $23 million more over two years that included money for a broader anti-racism strategy, as part of its efforts.

The election is a chance to amplify the voices of black Canadians, said Richard Picart from the Federation of Black Canadians.

“This community, my community, is becoming more active politically,” he said.

“It’s becoming more difficult to ignore the black elephant in the room.”

A lobby day is planned for Monday where dozens of representatives attending the summit will meet with cabinet ministers and MPs to put forward specific asks and put black voices into the political conversation.

“The message is nothing can happen without us. We’re in. We are in and we need to be considered,” Jean said.

“We’re saying here we are and you need to listen to what we are bringing to the conversation.”

The federal government has been able to hire more blacks into the public service, but once in, they don’t seem to rise to the upper ranks, said Liza Daniel, a founding member of the Federal Black Employees Caucus.

She said the employees caucus is finalizing a report about a gathering in Ottawa last month, where participants talked about ways to improve the system for black civil servants.

Source: MP says feds stall promise to act on anti-black racism one year after Trudeau pledge

Why the media loves the white racist story

Thoughtful discussion on how sometimes the focus on the individual provides a means to avoid some of the more uncomfortable discussions regarding systemic barriers:

Racism isn’t new and will not go away. What is new is the interest in pointing it out and calling out its perpetrators through both mainstream and social media. Especially white racists. What explains the need to do this? And why do incidents go viral so quickly?

Take for instance the case of Nick Sandmann, a white teenager from Kentucky whose picture and video many will have now seen. In a video, Sandmann is standing across from Native American demonstrator, Nathan Phillips, who is holding a rawhide drum. Sandmann is smiling or smirking at Phillips. From the videos, we don’t know which it is.

What we do know is that Sandmann has been widely condemned for disrespecting Phillips. Sandmann was wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap. And many people believe wearing the MAGA cap proves that Sandmann is a racist.

Maybe, as everyone seems loathe to do, instead of asking whether Sandmann is a racist or not, we might ask another question: Why is there so much interest in this story?

Why are so many people interested in pointing out and shaming individual white racists? There have been dozens of these events highlighted on social and mainstream media this year. Here are a few of the incidents that went viral and sparked outrage: a video of Fort McMurray teens mocking Indigenous dance, another of a North Carolina woman’s racist rant and the racist tirade against a Muslim family at the Toronto Ferry Terminal.

Why are people less interested in calling out the systems that prime them to act in racist ways and foster lifelong inequities.

Easy targets

We think the reason lies in the fact that by pointing out other individual racists, people can feel good about themselves without actually doing very much. In this way, individuals do not need to question how they must change their lives to create the more just society they say they want.

White people can feel good about themselves because, unlike what is claimed about Sandmann, they probably aren’t overtly racist.

These days most people are not overtly or publicly racist. And being labelled a racist can lead to social stigma. The individual (who may or may not be white) racist and their story, however, provides easy answers and easy targets.

Structural racism and colonization are not seen as the problem. It also allows people to ignore broader trends, such as the recent rise of hate crimes. Instead the focus is often on the spectacle of the incident and the problem is pinned on just one individual or a group of individuals.

In the Sandmann case, many see the problem as the individual racist, not the context that created the MAGA movement.

Ignored in the process of labelling people racists and shaming them is that the shaming fails to condemn actions. Instead, it focuses on a single person. Condemning people gives them little room to change, grow or learn from their mistakes. Humility is needed on all sides.

The move to innocence

Pointing out and condemning individuals for their racism is popular because it exemplifies what scholars Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang would call a “move to innocence.” Moves to innocence are the rhetorical moves that people use to distance themselves from genocide and colonization.

Those who have privilege and power can just tell themselves that they are one of the “good ones” because they aren’t racist like the people in the videos.

In pointing out others as racist, people don’t then have to ask themselves difficult questions about their own privilege or do the work of fostering social humility. Those of the dominant society don’t have to think about the ways that they benefit from slavery, colonialism and land theft.

They don’t have to think about pipelines and stolen land. They don’t have to think. They can just point.

If we want to move forward, we need to stop taking an aggressive punitive approach to individual racism. This only divides the right and the left. No side is “innocent” when it comes to discrimination or colonization.

Source: Why the media loves the white racist story 

Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it): Shaista Aziz

Aziz on the first UK audit on racial disparity:

Ms. May announced she had commissioned the report in September 2016 but it was only published last week, alongside the Prime Minister’s call to address “burning injustices.”

The report is the latest in a number of government reports released this year alone into the state of Britain’s minorities, focusing on integration, the criminal justice system and social mobility.

There is nothing new in the report – but the one thing it has succeeded in is this: there is now accessible data stored in one place, laying bare the ugly truths of structural racism in Britain. There are huge discrepancies in the opportunities afforded to and the value of life placed on non-white people in Britain.

The audit shows black men are nearly three times more likely to be arrested than white men, and black children three times more likely to be excluded from school. Black, Asian and mixed-race women are most likely to experience common mental health disorders. Mental health is a complex health issue – but let there be no doubt, racism and the impact of racism is visceral. For many on the receiving end, it manifests mentally and physically.

The same day the racial audit report was released, a report by the Runnymede Trust and Women’s Budget Group showed how the government’s cruel and disastrous austerity program is disproportionately impacting women of colour the hardest. They are still most likely to live in poverty.

The report says the poorest black and Asian households have faced the largest fall in living standards: 19 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Tinkering and repackaging structural systems of racial oppression rather than reforming and dismantling them is something our political leaders and establishment have perfected over the decades.

As evidence of the deepening structural racial injustice and disparity keeps mounting, so does the deliberately dishonest rhetoric about racism.

Britain has never been comfortable about talking about race; any attempt to talk about racism truthfully and meaningfully almost always turns into an exercise of defensive derailment.

In 2017, in Britain (just as in the United States) racism is being weaponized by the powerful against minorities and the marginalized.

Even when reams of data and the realities of our lives show we are being denied our rights to live as equal human beings and citizens, we are told the data is creating a culture of victimization and victimhood. We need to stop playing the race card, they say.

This is the ultimate political punching down.

The shameful, uncomfortable truth is that there is a lack of genuine political and societal will to tackle structural racism in Britain. Because, in order to dismantle structures of oppression, it is the privileged who have to make way for change – and it is not in their interest to turn the tables on a system that they benefit the most from and denies minorities our rights.

Source: Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it) – The Globe and Mail

Calculs politiques déplorables: Francine Pelletier on Quebec’s systemic racism hearings

Great column by Francine Pelletier on identity politics being played with respect to the Quebec hearings on systemic racism:

À la suite des piteux résultats dans Louis-Hébert, on presse Philippe Couillard de larguer la commission sur le racisme systémique, une des raisons, dit-on, de la « claque sur la gueule ». Selon l’ex-ministre libérale et animatrice de radio Nathalie Normandeau, les Québécois n’en pourraient plus de se faire dire « qu’on est racistes, xénophobes ».

Mais d’où vient l’idée (farfelue) que nous assistons ici à une « commission d’accablement des francophones »? Par quel tour de passe-passe une consultation sur la discrimination de minorités visibles devient-elle un exercice de discrimination envers la majorité ? Depuis les années 1960, toutes les grandes problématiques de l’heure — éducation, santé, justice, égalité hommes-femmes — sont passées par des consultations publiques. A-t-on crié au « procès des Québécois » au moment de la commission Parent ? Cliche ? Charbonneau ? Pourtant, à chacune de ses grandes dissections de la société québécoise, il y avait de quoi croupir de honte.

Il serait donc possible de contempler un Québec ignare, corrompu, toujours soumis à un patronage éhonté sans grimper dans les rideaux, sans y déceler autre chose qu’une façon d’y voir plus clair ? Mais entendre parler de racisme de la part de ceux et celles qui le vivent serait un affront inimaginable, une « farce », un « procès du nationalisme québécois », la mutilation de « l’âme et [du] coeur d’un peuple entraînant des conséquences irréparables »?

 Nous voici donc plongés dans une autre tragicomédie dont le Québec semble avoir le secret. On retrouve ici le même dialogue de sourds, la même indignation outrée de part et d’autre, la même incrédulité devant les propos de gens qu’on croit pourtant connaître (eh ? il a dit ça ?), amèrement vécus lors du débat sur la charte des valeurs dites québécoises.

Ce n’est pas par hasard si la première salve dans ce nouveau combat identitaire a été lancée par le chef du PQ. Après l’annonce de la commission en mars dernier, Jean-François Lisée a été le premier à dénoncer ce « procès en racisme et en xénophobie que les Québécois vont subir ». Claque sur la gueule oblige. À la suite de la défaite-surprise du PQ et du rejet de sa proposition de charte aux dernières élections, l’occasion était tout indiquée de reprendre l’initiative en peinturant l’adversaire dans le coin honni du multiculturalisme. « Ça suffit de culpabiliser les Québécois qui tiennent à la laïcité ! » de s’indigner M. Lisée. La pelure de banane était lancée. À partir de ce moment-là, nous assistions à un pugilat entre, d’un côté, ceux qui défendent le bon peuple (le « nous ») et, de l’autre, ceux qui défendent, à l’instar d’Ottawa, les pauvres immigrants (le « eux »). Devinez qui risque de l’emporter.

Il y a évidemment toutes sortes de raison de se méfier des intentions du gouvernement Couillard dans cette affaire. En perte de vitesse auprès de l’électorat francophone — qu’il n’a jamais su, c’est vrai, bien défendre —, M. Couillard a intérêt à garder les communautés culturelles solidement dans son coin. La diversité n’est pas une question entièrement neutre pour le PLQ, pas plus que la laïcité l’est pour le PQ — ou encore pour la CAQ, qui, à l’instar de ces gros footballeurs qui s’empilent les uns par-dessus les autres sur le même petit ballon, n’a pas tardé à se jeter dans la mêlée. Dans tous les cas, le pari électoral pue au nez.

 Cela dit, l’enjeu, dans le cas qui nous occupe, n’est pas la laïcité mais bien la diversité. Ce n’est pas exactement le même débat. La laïcité, d’abord, n’a jamais été perçue ici comme problématique. Les 50 dernières années sont un testament à la transformation harmonieuse d’une société archicatholique en une société qui n’est plus du tout guidée aujourd’hui par des considérations religieuses. Applaudissons l’exploit, mais admettons qu’en ce qui concerne la cohabitation gracieuse d’une société multiethnique, nous avons encore quelques croûtes à manger. La série noire de crimes haineux contre la communauté musulmane, pour ne rien dire de la montée de l’extrême droite ici comme ailleurs en Occident, est là pour nous le rappeler.

Au Québec comme ailleurs, le défi de l’heure n’est pas tant celui de la tolérance religieuse que la tolérance tout court. Sommes-nous prêts, non seulement à accepter parmi nous, mais à traiter comme nos vis-à-vis, nos égaux, ceux et celles qui ne nous ressemblent pas ?

Malgré tous ses défauts, une consultation sur la discrimination systémique m’apparaît, au contraire, tout indiquée.

Source: Calculs politiques déplorables | Le Devoir

Racisme systémique: la CAQ demande l’annulation de la commission

Ongoing denial among the major opposition parties:

La pression s’accentue sur le gouvernement Couillard afin qu’il abandonne l’idée d’une consultation sur la discrimination systémique et le racisme. Après le Parti québécois (PQ), c’est au tour de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) d’en demander l’annulation complète.

Lundi, la porte-parole caquiste en matière d’immigration, Nathalie Roy, a fait valoir que le gouvernement rate sa cible lorsqu’il parle de racisme «systémique». «On ne croit pas que ça existe», a-t-elle affirmé lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec La Presse canadienne.

Le racisme systémique, ou racisme institutionnel, est une forme de discrimination qui s’exprime par le traitement inégalitaire d’individus racisés par une société et ses institutions.

Mme Roy a dit ajouter sa voix à celles des nombreux «analystes, leaders d’opinion, éditorialistes et chroniqueurs» au Québec qui s’opposent à une vaste consultation sur le racisme.

Le PQ avait aussi demandé, le 6 avril dernier, l’annulation des procédures dans une pétition réclamant «l’abandon immédiat du projet de consultation sur le racisme et la discrimination systémique».

Il est illusoire, selon les partis, de penser que l’on puisse tenir une telle consultation en année préélectorale, lorsque traditionnellement les esprits s’échauffent.

«Vous savez très bien que ce sont des sujets extrêmement délicats et qu’il ne faut pas faire de politique sur le dos des communautés culturelles», a affirmé Mme Roy.

«Cette consultation-là repose sur une stratégie de M. (le premier ministre Philippe) Couillard qui va exacerber les divisions et les tensions à un an des élections.»

Par ailleurs, la députée de Montarville maintient que les libéraux ont failli à leur tâche d’accroître la représentativité des membres des communautés culturelles au sein de l’administration publique.

En 2008, Yolande James, l’ex-ministre libérale de l’Immigration, avait pourtant déposé un plan d’action, intitulé «Diversité: une valeur ajoutée», qui fixait un objectif d’embauche de 25 pour cent.

Elle promettait, entre autres, d’intensifier la diffusion ciblée des offres de recrutement, l’analyse des outils de sélection en vue de s’assurer qu’ils ne comportent pas de pratiques discriminatoires, et la promotion des possibilités d’emplois dans la fonction publique.

Or, selon les informations obtenues par Mme Roy lors de l’étude des crédits, le gouvernement serait encore bien loin de sa cible, aux alentours de huit pour cent.

Annonce de la Commission des droits de la personne mardi

La Commission des droits de la personne, qui dirige la consultation, ira tout de même de l’avant et lancera ses travaux mardi, a appris La Presse canadienne.

Elle accuse du retard; la liste des organismes à but non lucratif qui sont impliqués n’est toujours pas connue, alors qu’elle devait être publiée le 1er septembre dernier.

La commission est également aux prises avec des difficultés à l’interne. La nouvelle présidente, Tamara Thermitus, serait visée par des plaintes pour abus d’autorité et mauvaise gestion.

Le lancement des travaux se fera donc sans tambour ni trompette, soit par communiqué de presse, a confirmé l’agente d’information Meissoon Azzaria.

Le PQ et la CAQ en ont également contre la décision de la Commission des droits de la personne de tenir ses premières consultations locales, auprès de personnes racisées, à huis clos.

«Le huis clos, c’est la goutte qui fait déborder le vase, a soutenu Nathalie Roy. C’est cette même commission-là, à l’intérieur de laquelle la chicane est pognée, qui va faire une consultation avec, entre autres, des témoignages à huis clos. Ça ne tient pas la route, c’est parti tout croche.»

La ministre de l’Immigration, Kathleen Weil, a pour sa part affirmé que la consultation sera à la fois publique et privée, pour permettre aux gens de s’exprimer librement.

«Notre gouvernement est déterminé à éliminer les barrières à la pleine participation des Québécois de toutes origines», a-t-elle déclaré dans un courriel, lundi.

«Le racisme et la discrimination en font partie. Nous avons le devoir d’agir et de mobiliser toute la société pour contrer ces phénomènes. C’est pourquoi nous avons confié le mandat de cette consultation à la Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) qui procédera d’ailleurs sous peu à l’annonce des organismes retenus pour les consultations locales», a-t-elle ajouté.

Source: Racisme systémique: la CAQ demande l’annulation de la commission | Caroline Plante | Politique québécoise

Plan for hearings on ‘systemic racism’ in Quebec divides province’s political left

Good capturing range of perspectives, including blindness to the issue:

Quebec is being widely criticized for its plan to launch public consultations on systemic racism, even by those who agree visible minorities face many structural barriers in the province.

The debate has highlighted a deep divide among Quebec’s political left, with some people saying the consultations encourage an ideology of victimhood and demonize the province as inherently racist.

Some civil rights activists argue the consultations are meaningless unless the government is finally prepared to hold its institutions accountable for failing to uphold racial diversity.

Moreover, activists say they will increasingly use the court system to push through changes in society regardless of what comes out of the government’s consultations.

Michele Sirois, a political scientist and president of a women’s rights organization, believes there is no systemic racism in Quebec.

That concept, she explained in an interview, is imported from the United States, which has a history of structural racism against people of colour.

“The Americans had a slave trade,” she said. “We didn’t. Our problem is about the full integration of immigrants.”

Sirois recently penned an opinion piece in Le Devoir, a left-of-centre newspaper, and wrote that the term “systemic racism” reflects “an ideology of victimhood” and promotes the idea that only white people can be racist.

“The left is divided in Quebec,” Sirois said in the interview. “And there is an increase of people on the left who are saying, ‘stop these consultations, which will only increase racial tension in society.”‘

Quebec has asked its human rights commission to launch public consultations on systemic discrimination and racism.

Only discussion on discrimination involving race, colour or ethnic and national origin will be allowed when the hearings begin in September.

The goal, the government said, is to forge “concrete and durable” solutions in order to “fight these problems.”

The Canadian Press attempted to contact Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, whose office is leading the consultations, but was told she would not be available to comment.

Weil said in July, when she first made the announcement, the consultations “are an occasion to mobilize all of civil society … to propose actions to eliminate the obstacles towards full participation of all Quebecers.”

Fo Niemi, executive director for the Montreal-based Centre for Research Action on Race Relations, said those on the right and the left who deny the existence of systemic racism aren’t looking hard enough.

One clear example, he said, is that Quebec’s human rights commission is so understaffed it can only render decisions many years after a complaint is lodged.

Niemi cited the case of a young man who waited seven years to be awarded $33,000 by the commission after he was racially profiled by Montreal police in 2010.

That case also highlighted the fact police are still not tracking data on racial profiling, five year after the force said it would start taking profiling complaints against its officers seriously.

“The system knows that going to the human rights commission is like going to a nameless graveyard,” Niemi said. “This is a systemic problem.”

Another example of systemic racism in Quebec society is reflected in the lack of diversity in the judiciary, he said.

Niemi pointed to a 2016 study published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy indicating that out of 500 judges in Quebec, three were visible minorities.

 He said if the percentages of visible minorities within institutions such as the public service, corporate boards of directors and the judiciary are lower than in regular society, that is a sign of systemic racism.

“It’s an indication,” Niemi said. “It’s a very important evidential element.”

Niemi said activists are increasingly going to the courts to force society to become more diverse, because nothing else seems to be working.

“It’s inevitable,” he said.

“It’s only a matter of time before some of these legal actions start to take place. Quebec is a bit slower in terms of this kind of litigation, but it’s coming and we are leading that movement for change.”

Source: Plan for hearings on ‘systemic racism’ in Quebec divides province’s political left | National Post