Backgrounder: Confronting Anti-Black Racism
December 10, 2018
Toronto is the most diverse city in the world. However, studies continue to show that anti-Black racism still exists in this city, affecting the life chances of more than 200,000 people of African descent who call Toronto home.
According to an interim report released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission about racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service:
- A Black person in Toronto is nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by Toronto Police Services (TPS)
- Despite only representing 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population, Black people were over-represented in the use of force cases (28.8 per cent), shootings (36 per cent), deadly encounters (61.5 per cent), and fatal shootings (70 per cent).
- Black men make up 4.1 per cent of Toronto’s population, but accounted for a 25 per cent of all complainants of Special Investigation Unit (SIU) cases alleging sexual assault by TPS officers.
Anti-Black racism is policies and practices embedded in Canadian institutions that reflect and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and colonization here in Canada.
The legacy of anti-Black racism lies in the current social, economic, and political marginalization of Torontonians of African descent. It is experienced as a lack of opportunity, poor health and mental health outcomes, poor education outcomes, higher rates of precarious employment and unemployment, significant poverty, and overrepresentation in the criminal justice, mental health, and child welfare systems.
To begin confronting anti-Black racism in Toronto, the City of Toronto partnered with Black leaders and organizations to create and implement a four-phase process that culminated in Council’s unanimous adoption of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
Phase one was the development and launch of the Toronto For All campaign in November 2016, naming and challenging anti-Black racism through public education. Phase two was the review of 41 years’ worth of research and recommendations about addressing anti-Black racism in Toronto. This review created the foundation for the 41 Community Conversations in phase three to determine how best to take meaningful action going forward. Black Torontonians reviewed a draft action plan at a city-wide workshop in May 2017 and provided feedback. In Phase four, City staff and subject matter experts from across Toronto’s Black communities worked together to create work plans and to identify resource requirements to begin implementation. The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism is the result of this collaborative effort between the City of Toronto and Torontonians of African descent to take corrective action.
This five-year plan leverages the talents, knowledge, and experiences of Black residents and Black organizations as partners in making municipal services, spaces and policies fully inclusive and accessible to Torontonians of African descent in both intent and in practice. The Action Plan includes 22 recommendations and 80 actions to address five issue areas:
- children and youth development;
- health and community services;
- job and income supports;
- policing and the justice system; and,
- community engagement and Black leadership.
The action plan is aligned with the passed provincial Anti-Racism Act, 2017, which provides for various anti-racism measures that are complementary and supportive of actions in the action plan.
Key accomplishments in year one of implementing the plan include:
- Developed and staff the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit in Social Development, Finance & Administration to lead the implementation of the action plan.
- Developed the Partnership & Accountability Circle to support accountability, transparency and the implementation of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism and community engagement.
- Launched the Black Staff Network as a professional development vehicle for members of Toronto Public Service of African descent.
- Developed the Mayor’s Roundtable on Black Business to provide strategic advice and guidance to the Mayor on entrepreneurship, business development, cultural industries, and economic development issues in Toronto’s Black communities.
- In collaboration with the CABR unit, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has developed an in-service 45-minute Anti-Black Racism (ABR) training module for all frontline TPS officers. In-service training for new hires, lateral hires, special constables and court officers will begin in January 2019, and training for civilian members will begin in the first quarter of 2019.
For more information about the Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit and the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, please visit: www.toronto.ca/abr.
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Media contact: Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins, Strategic Communications, 416-392-5349, Natasha.HindsFitzsimmins@toronto.ca