On anti-Black racism (Canadian)

When I first thought of starting a blog I wondered whether I truly had anything to add. Are there not already a plethora of parenting blogs? What could I possibly add to the conversation? But then I started to pay attention, like REALLY pay attention, to which voices are represented and which are not.

I’ve always been aware that as a Black woman my image and voice is either underrepresented or misrepresented. But as I began to think about raising my children and searching for resources for the challenges I was facing, I struggled to find anyone who was both Black AND Canadian. For a while I thought this was reflective of a lack of need. Maybe there really is no difference between being Black in Canada and Black in the USA. Maybe it was enough that there were some great Black parenting blogs and it didn’t matter that none were Canadian. Or maybe there really isn’t much racism in Canada, which seems to be the general consensus in the mainstream parenting groups I have come across.

But then….

In 2016, following an investigation by the Toronto Star revealing that Black children are hugely over-represented in care, a ministry-funded review of the Children’s Aid Society recommended changes at every level in order to dismantle the systemic anti-Black racism within the organization.

In November 2016 a school trustee used a racial slur when addressing a Black parent. (After a lot of pressure from community members she eventually resigned.)

In April 2017 a review of a local school board revealed “systemic discrimination” which echoed what parents have been saying for years.

Finally last month, June 2017, an inquest was held into the July 2015 shooting of Andrew Loku by a police officer. The inquest jury put forward a number of recommendations for addressing anti-Black racism within Toronto Police Services. (Although the coroner’s inquest ruled the death a homicide, no charges are being laid.)

And it became clear to me that not only is racism a huge Canadian problem, but anti-Black racism in particular underlies many of the systems which my children and I will rely upon. And I began to interact with other Black and racialized parents who are feeling the same way. My initial instinct had been right, our voices are missing not because we don’t exist but because in a strange Canadian twist, it has been seen as impolite to discuss racism. Our voices had been “swept under the rug”.

So while I have already started this blog, I have become more and more aware of the fact that anti-Black racism in Canada is both insidious and systemic. And that there is absolutely a need to both address this racism, and to share resources and experiences amongst ourselves to help navigate this racism. There is something unique about Canadian racism, something that distinguishes it from that in the USA, and which needs to be exposed and discussed. I hope to provide a space here for those of us who are living this racism every day to both unpack what racism looks like here, and to share how we are working towards dismantling it through our parenting.

I look forward to hearing from all of you about the challenges of raising Black/racialized Canadian children and to sharing my own journey!

 

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On being black in Canada

This week in Canadian news to incidents occurred. Two separate completely unrelated events with nothing to do with each other. Or so some people seem to be arguing. Despite the similarities and obvious racism in both incidents (in my experience) some seem to think there is no proof that either was “motivated by racism”.

Here’s the thing. I don’t care about motivation. It doesn’t matter that it’s possible (although unlikely) that neither woman had any realization that they were addressing a person of colour. I don’t care. Because I am not here to centralize the feelings of the offenders. Both of these women were in the wrong. And there is a deep and long history behind the racial stereotypes which they imposed on these young people.

Let’s focus on the what these two must have felt. Fact is, racism exists. All around. All the time. And if you’re not white you experience this racism. All around. All the time. And since I personally have experienced both of these and worse, in Canada, I can tell you that being in a situation where you KNOW you are being racially profiled but the person is being polite, is THE WORST FEELING. Both of these young people were more collected and calm than the offender deserved. Because they have both been here before, and they are exhausted.

I’m exhausted too. It is exhausting to read these stories. It is even more exhausting to read racism deniers try and explain why it’s never racism. I’m not here for it. So please, don’t even bother.

Here are the two incidents:

A black man was physically assaulted by a white woman. And the internet came to her defense. Video and story here.

A black man was racially profiled (by a white woman) and found guilty of “being black while shopping”: