Hey guys it's Megan. So today I'm going to talk about an issue that plagues not only Canada but almost every other country in the world. Racial profiling in the police force. I was reading an article by Desmond Cole titled The Skin I'm In and it was just fascinating to get a look at what some people in our society go through just because of the color of their skin. So it got me thinking how often does this really occur in our community. And why don't we hear about it more often if it really is that present in our daily life. In the article Cole talks about his first encounter with racial discrimination when he was just 9 years old. The police pulled his dad over because his cousin had thrown a dirty tissue out the window. It didn't seem like a big deal to him but he watched how that officer treated his father and how his father reacted. He states in the article, “my dad isn't a big man but he always cut an imposing figure in our household. This was the time I realized he could be afraid of something.” (Cole, 2019). Despite this cool says his elementary and high school years were like anyone else's. He did a lot of extracurricular’s and even got accepted into Queen's University. (Cole, 2019)
He says that he was only one of 80 black undergrads out of the 16000 undergrads admitted in his here. It wasn't until his second year that he had one of his first encounters with the police. He was walking his friend Sara back to her house after a party when an officer stopped them and with his back turned to call. Asked Sara who is a white woman I might add if she needed any help. When she told them no he simply walked away. The experience had shaken them both. Obviously it wasn't OK for the officer to do that and they both knew it. After that incident calls run ins with the police became more frequent. They would stop him anywhere especially at night and he began to see them as a threat and rightly so. There were times that he would have police pulled guns on him and ask him for identification and the one time he didn't have his I.D. on him the cops didn't believe him. And what made all of this worse especially in my opinion was the fact that when he told his white friends about it they were skeptical doubtful and sometimes made him question whether he had made it all up in his own mind. They would ask him questions like What were you doing to make the cops think that you were a suspect or that you were doing something suspicious when in reality he wasn't. And this is something that a lot of not just young black males but black females can also contend to that this happens on a daily basis when cool turned 22. He moved to Toronto with the hopes that in a city this size he could blend into the crowd and not be racially profiled and singled out because of the color of his skin. But he soon realized just how wrong he was. He realized that there is a heavier policing of black people in Toronto than there was in Kingston. He also notes in his article and this is actually very interesting. Black people make up nine point three percent of Canadian prisoners but only eight point three percent of Canada's entire population is black. And he makes an excellent point when he talks about how black people are always presumed guilty and given a harsher punishments for the same crimes as white people. And it's no wonder many black people end up dropping out of school living in poverty and even reoffending. (Cole, 2019)
After reading this article and being thoroughly disgusted with society in general I started to do a little digging of my own and it turns out there are literally hundreds if not thousands of stories similar to this one. There are numerous news articles video clips academic papers and more on this topic.
There is an article in The Globe and Mail about how black people are more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto police officers. This article is published on December 10th 2018 for those of you who think that this information might be a little outdated. It's not. It has statistics from the Ontario Human Rights Commission from a study in 2017. The research shows that 36 out of view 125 police use of force cases that resulted in injury or death involved black people (Hayes, 2019) That's twenty eight percent of these use of force cases. There is no way that number should be anywhere near that high unless the police were racially profiling these people and projecting this supposedly dangerous stereotype onto them and then there's an article in The Washington Post as well this one stating that over policing in black communities is also a problem in Canada. They look at a report published by CBC News that revealed this shocking statistic. It says that although black people only make up eight point three percent of Canada's total population they make up thirty six point five percent of police fatalities. And it isn't just black men who are experiencing racial profiling by police. Black women also experience physical and even sexual violence at the hands of the police force. (Maynard, 2019)
The report's done by the Ontario Human Rights Commission also an unhealthy and unprecedented representation of what the lives of many black people in Canada look like. Personally I couldn't imagine living under the constant surveillance and possible threat from the people who are supposed to keep our city our community and us safe. And my heart goes out to all of the people who have lost someone to racial profiling and police brutality. It really is a shame that people have to lose their lives because the police perceive them to be something that they're not. I 100 percent do not agree with how police handle these cases because there's so much more that the police could be doing besides pulling a gun and shooting at these young men even if they are running chase them down. You don't have to pull a gun on them if they are unarmed. There should be no need for violence. There should be no need to pull a gun on somebody who is unarmed.
I had the pleasure to interview somebody who was a victim of police racial profiling and here's how that interview went.
So first I want to thank you for coming here today and talking with me. Um, can you tell me a little bit about your experience with racial profiling in the police?
Okay. So basically I live around Jane and Finch area and in that area like theres a lot of crime happens and whenever like I'm around during the night there's a lot of police cars and they always, whenever I'm walking down the street they go by slowly and like look at me carefully and several times ask me where I'm going and all that kind of stuff.
And it's it's pretty it's pretty... All the time whenever I'm walking alone or with my friends at night and.
How does it make you feel when this happens?
Whenever this happens. I feel kind of bad because it's like you know it could either be like and if I were to be in a different area rather than Jane Finch or if I were to be of a different racial background I think that would have a huge effect on whether I would have these experiences with the police. And that's quite tragic because I mean in the end it shouldn't matter where you live or what race you are like. It's kind of unfair how different races and how different areas are treated differently just because of external factors that I can't control.
And do you think that this experience has affected your life in any way do you. Is there anything you do differently now that you've had these experiences that you didn't before.
Oh because of these experiences it has traumatized my life like lately I've just whenever I see a police car it's like my heart is pounding I'm like thinking oh what do I do now. And like what's happening around me now. And like I've had to train my children to be like careful around the police. And like I've had to tell them like to not walk alone at night and just to be careful. And like where you are and who you're with and all that kind of stuff and it's just affected my life and my family in a huge amount of home stress and anxiety.
So I'm going to tell you a statistic now and I want you I want your reaction on this statistic. There were one hundred and thirty five cases of police use of force done in the past couple of years. Thirty eight out of those one hundred and twenty five were against black males. Does that statistic surprise you?
Considering that I myself am a black male and have seen this scene some of these cases happened before me. It doesn't really surprise me that black males tend to be the most the most victimized of people around.
So what do you think that we as a society or our government what do you think we can do different to kind of get this the stigma this stereotyping this racial profiling how do you think we can help minimize that and ultimately get rid of it.
Oh to start off with. I'd say we need better education and this begins with in school because some of my children whenever like I used to send them to white kid schools and they did not like it compared to the local I mean local black kids school because they just didn't seem to fit in because you know they were bullied by the white kids and they kind of left out and everything. And so this has forced this this lack of education in school is forcing us black and white and other racial racial societies apart rather than together.
OK. Well I want to thank you for coming here today and meeting with me. I know it's it's a very controversial topic it's not something that a whole lot of people like speaking out because they feel like their voices won't be heard. And that's one of the reasons that I'm doing what I'm doing right now. So I do want to thank you for that.
There is a disturbing pattern to all of these events and reports. How can we as Canadians supposedly the nicest people on earth sit back while citizens of our own country suffered daily because of what they look like and the perceived stereotypes that go along with the color of their skin. Canadians continue to believe that racism is only something that happens in America. Well I say wake up Canada. This is happening in our own backyards. And we are so blind that we don't think it's happening at all. Something needs to be done about the way we treat people in our country. We need to stand up for our people and treat them with human decency.
The fact that there are people out there who are scared for their lives just because of who they are is absolutely disgusting. We need to do something to help them because I couldn't imagine living in fear of the people who are supposed to be helping me. I can't imagine you know going out of my way to stay away from certain places or not go out at night or just walk on eggshells because of the color of my skin and I cannot believe. That we are not standing up for those we're standing up for themselves. A lot of the times in these use of force cases involving young black people it's only them defending their right to freedom. They're running away from the police because they know that if they stay the police might use force anyway or they might arrest them and blame them for something that they didn't do just because of the color of their skin so they run because they're scared and then the police use force against them because they're running. It just makes me sick because everybody. Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should be given equal opportunity. I know in my heart that if everybody was given an equal opportunity an equal chance that they could do wonderful things with their lives. There are so many people right now who are in jail and it wasn't because of something they did it was because of who they are and they could be doing so much more with their lives than sitting in a cell. It just it's not fair. [
And once more there are many many reports of the police being brutal towards young people in Quebec a young girl named Selena Sylla was leaving a party with a friend when the two had an argument and then the friend lived wasn't too long after that when the police showed up and when they asked her if she'd been involved in a fight she said “No I haven't done anything.” And then the policemen actually grabbed her arm. They were pulling her arm away and she was thrown face first into the pavement before being handcuffed and pushed up onto the hood of a car. (Olivier, 2019) I mean. I can only imagine the amount of terror. This poor girl was going through. She's only 16 years old. She's handcuffed. She's spitting up a lot of blood because you know face first in the pavement. That's got to be scary. Like she even states that she was choking on her own blood because she couldn't breathe. The doctors told her that she had a concussion and a broken nose. (Olivier, 2019)
I mean all of this because she's black like that makes no sense to me. This is definitely something that we as a society need to get a handle on because honestly I can't imagine I can not imagine how this young girl feels. And why we would put anybody else through that..
But I just want to thank you guys for tuning in and listening because the more we talk about it the more we have an open discussion about what's going on right now. The more awareness we bring to it there's more of a chance that we can do something about it. So I just want to say thank you.
Cole, D. (2019). The Skin I’m In: I've been interrogated by police more than 50 times—all because I'm black. Retrieved from https://torontolife.com/city/life/skin-im-ive-interrogated-police-50-times-im-black/
Hayes, M. (2019). Black people more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto Police officers, report finds. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-report-reveals-racial-disparities-in-toronto-polices-use-of-force/
Maynard, R. (2019). Over-policing in black communities is a Canadian crisis, too. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/04/24/over-policing-in-black-communities-is-a-canadian-crisis-too/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9cad6b945bef
Kong, S. (2019). "If It Feels Like Racism In Canada Is Getting Worse, That's Because It Is." Retrieved from https://www.flare.com/news/racism-in-canada/
McQuigge, M. (2019). Black residents more likely to die during interactions with Toronto cops: report. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/black-residents-more-likely-to-die-during-interactions-with-toronto-cops-report-1.4211542
Olivier, A. (2019). Laval teen claims she was racially profiled during forceful arrest. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/5139127/laval-teen-claims-she-was-racially-profiled-during-forceful-arrest/