The Ontario Government has created an Anti-Racism Directorate.

Here is what the website says:

 “The Directorate will work with key partners such as business, community organizations, educational institutions and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

The Directorate will aim to:

  • Increase public education and awareness of racism to create a more inclusive province, and;
  • Apply an anti-racism lens in developing, implementing and evaluating government policies, programs and services.

The Anti-Racism Directorate is part of the government’s commitment to fight discrimination and ensure that everyone in Ontario has the opportunity to fulfill their potential and participate equally in society.”

Despite the diversity we have in big cities like Ontario, racism is still alive and well – because it is systemic.

Unconscious bias over centuries has created systems that unconsciously discriminate on the basis of race. Systemic racism contributes to, and intersects with, things like poverty, education, contact with the criminal justice system (i.e. carding by police), advancement, health – to name a few.

Here are a few ways this plays out in people’s lives:

According to TDSB 2012 statistics, Black and Latin American kids have the lowest graduation rates – 64.5% and 69.9% – and the highest drop out rates (22.8% and 20.5% respectively).

Aboriginal / First Nation statistics are even worse: according to the National Household Survey (2011), 58% of 20-24 year olds living on reserve and 31% off reserve had dropped out of high school.

Child welfare statistics show that although African Canadians represent 8% of the Toronto population, they represent 41% of children and youth in care at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society (this is currently being looked into provincially by the One Vision One Voice project – )

In 2006, Aboriginal / First Nations children made up 1.3% of the Ontario population and accounted for 21% of children in the child welfare system.

In the corporate sector: In 2013, only 6 CEOs in Fortune 500 companies were Black, 10 were Latin American, 10 were Asian ( )

These are just a few examples.
The point is that because discrimination is systemic, the system perpetuates it – and unless we are impacted, we may not notice.

Because we figuratively lean towards people we even think we have something in common with (and thus away from those we even think we don’t have anything in common with) and the people in power are typically still predominantly white, leadership, advancement, and opportunity still have a colour – plus the gap widens and has a cumulative effect on racialized communities over time.

The Anti-Racism Directorate is a huge undertaking, and a necessary one.

We have to start to change the system so that everyone truly has the opportunity to – as the website says – “fulfill their potential and participate equally in society.”

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Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion
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