Canada is a highly-diverse country that encompasses all faiths, cultures, and creeds. Our country has no place for intolerance and hate. And yet, anti-Black racism exists in Canada. It’s pervasive. And as much as we may want to claim that racism doesn’t exist, we become a part of the problem by denying it.
Anti-Black racism is a particular form of racism that is rooted in the history of enslavement. Anti-Black racism is also a breach of our most fundamental human rights. The bitter truth is that many Black Canadians feel unsafe and threatened every day. That so many people of color fear the police— supposedly there to “serve and protect” says a lot about how broken the system is.
When we consider today’s racial climate, it’s easy to buy that businesses were once able to deny service to someone based on their skin color or that Ontario’s last segregated school wasn’t shut down until 1965. At that time, there were no laws to protect Black people from this kind of discrimination.
Universal Declaration Of Human Rights
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly in Paris, France, drafted a milestone document, entitling every human being to a set of universal human rights. The document outlines thirty different types of human rights— of which five are considered basic. These include the right to equality and dignity, the right to live free from slavery, the right to live free from torture, the right to own property, and the right to live free from all forms of discrimination.
Yet, in this country, Black people are often treated as though they lack any basic human rights at all. A new report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission confirms that Black people are more apt to be questioned, arrested and charged than non-Black people. They are also more likely to be on the receiving end of force during police encounters.
A System Rife With Racism
In Toronto, Black people comprise only 8.8 percent of the population, yet they can lay claim to almost 32 percent of charges. The report also points to systemic racism. Police appear to employ hasty charging practices in altercations with Black people—charges that are frequently later dropped due to insufficient evidence. The report also found that Black people had a higher chance of being shot or killed by police.
Black Lives Matter
To end anti-Black racism in Canada and across the world, people of every color must educate themselves about the myriad ways our country supports systemic racism, regardless of intention. Perhaps, more importantly, we need to listen—really listen. Standing up to anti-Black racism means refusing to tolerate racist talk or language of any kind —no matter how subtle. Failing to do so perpetuates racist behaviour in Canada and increases the potential for violence. Our silence makes us complicit. Anti-Black racism is a violation of human rights. Full stop.
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