anti black racism

Here are some of the facts on anti-Black racism in Canada

Anti-Black racism exists in Canada. Let's just begin by acknowledging that. Despite the words of some Canadian politicians, it's clear that racism against the Black community is a pervasive problem, whether it's through actions, comments or thoughts.

And while it's impossible to summarize the deep, long-reaching roots of the problem in the space of a single article (or even a single book), it's worth considering some recent facts that shed light on how anti-Black racism is still persistent in Canada today.

Take recent hate crimes in the country, for example.

According to Statistics Canada, police reported 1,798 criminal incidents in Canada that were motivated by hate in 2018. With the exception of 2017, that number was higher than any other year in the past decade.

The majority of those crimes (44 per cent) can be attributed to race or ethnicity, and hate crimes targeting the Black population remained one of the most common types of hate crimes in Canada (16 per cent of all hate crimes).

Police-reported crimes against Black Canadians were more likely to be non-violent violations (60 per cent), with most lumped under "mischief" — a broad category that can include anything from spray-painting racist images on buildings to destroying property.

Hate crimes accounted for a very small proportion of police-reported crimes in 2018 — less than 0.1 per cent — but Statistics Canada warns that the emerging diversity in the population could "increase the potential for more hate crimes" in the coming years.

A study on a police force in Canada found that Black youths are also more likely to be charged by police for certain minor criminal offences than white and other youth of colour.

But anti-Black racism in Canada has to do with more than crime statistics. In May 2019, a poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News revealed that nearly half of Canadians will admit to regularly having racist thoughts that they don't share with others.

"We found that (almost) 50 per cent of Canadians believe it's OK and actually normal to have racist thoughts," said Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Despite that number, less than half of survey respondents said that they consider racism in Canada to be a "serious problem" in Canada, with more than 75 per cent saying that they would not consider themselves to be racist.

In December 2019, yet another survey found that many Canadians across different racial backgrounds were still experiencing racism and discrimination from time to time, if not regularly.

Over half of Black survey respondents (54 per cent) said they have personally experienced discrimination due to race or ethnicity in Canada.

Even more troubling, most Canadians reported that they were aware racialized Canadians experienced discrimination either often or at least occasionally, with 73 per cent of survey respondents saying that they believe Black people still experience discrimination.

But the facts don't capture the whole picture. Black people face systemic barriers in North America on a daily basis, and there are so many moving and well-written anecdotal books that talk about that experience.

In The Skin We're In, journalist and activist Desmond Cole offers a comprehensive and unflinching view of life in Canada as a Black person.

Althea Prince offers a collection of essays on the complacency she sees in some manifestations of Black Canadian culture — such as Toronto's Caribana festival — in Being Black.

Anti-Black racism in Canada is a persistent issue, and it will take more than understanding the facts for us to address it.

As Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Tuesday, "It's not enough to not be a racist in our own lives. We need to commit to being anti-racist and actively condemn racism wherever we see it."

"We all need to come together. To stand for what's right. That's the only way to make the world a better place."

Lead photo by

George Talusan

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