February is Black History Month...

..and as such, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the ongoing discrimination against black communities here in Canada and beyond. Our societies still have such a long way to go to improve this situation.

Note: As a Caucasian, I cannot ever claim to know what it feels like to be a black person in a world full of many racists. However, I can, and want to, stand in solidarity.

Violence Against Black Persons by Authorities

Racial discrimination, bullying and abuses by authorities are being reported more than ever and this is a good thing. As well, the fact that the police must now wear body cameras (for their own protection as well as for others') means that any officers that are racist may think twice before inflicting injustice on persons they are questioning or arresting. Now, some black people have been able to use such footage, as well as public security-camera videos, as evidence of abuse.

Watch the footage in the link, below. The aggression appears to be instigated by TTC inspectors and police officers towards a black youth who seems to be just minding his own business. He is now suing, due to physical injuries and psychological trauma. (The case is still to come to court.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeT4e-EsAw0

Here is The Toronto Star report about the young man in the video:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/11/16/man-suing-ttc-claims-violent-assault-a-case-of-racial-profiling.html

Racial bias is a pervasive problem. A December 2018 Canadian Globe and Mail report by Molly Hayes titled "Black people more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto Police officers" bears out what is reported in Robyn Maynard's 2017 book, published in Canada: Policing Black Lives (both listed at bottom).

Hayes relays facts from an interim report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) that provides a race-based breakdown of use of force by officers. It was found that although black people made up only 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population in 2016, they were involved in 7 out of 10 cases of fatal shootings by police. As well, black people were overrepresented in everything from investigations into use of force and sexual assault by police, to inappropriate or unjustified searches and charges.  

The OHRC details a number of recommendations for the Toronto Police Service and its Board, as well as each level of government, including mandating the collection of race-based data by Toronto police. The Commission intends to analyze patterns in data, e.g., whether a case was the result of proactive engagement by police, or if it was in response to a 911 call. It will look at age and gender, mental health, socioeconomic status and geographic locations of the cases.

The chief commissioner Renu Mandhane said: “Data collection is the foundation to combat racial discrimination in law enforcement...the commission’s work is necessary because the Toronto Police Service does not consistently collect race-based data, and the board has never required them to do so.” She went on to say that the findings are “disturbing” and called for immediate action.

I believe the OHRC's findings are consistent with what I have read recently in Maynard's bestselling book, Policing Black Lives, in which can be found case studies and much more, from slave ships to the present. This is an excellent read that encourages a national conversation.

Here's a Charlotte Brontë quote from Jane Eyre: Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. This is why we need dialogue...to kill those weeds.

And let's end with this beauty by Maya Angelou: My great blessing is my son, but I have daughters. I have white ones and Black ones and fat ones and thin ones and pretty ones and plain. I have gay ones and straight. I have daughters. I have Asian ones, I have Jewish ones, I have Muslim ones.

Further Reading

Policing Black Lives

https://robynmaynard.com/

The Globe and Mail "Black people more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto Police officers, report finds" by Molly Hayes

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-report-reveals-racial-disparities-in-toronto-polices-use-of-force/

Read also, Doug Saunders' article "Why black Canadians are facing U.S.-style problems"

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-black-canadians-are-facing-us-style-problems/article30939514/

The world will be a better place when all people embrace others with respect and kindness.