News / Toronto

UN special group comes to Toronto to explore anti-black racism

“As a society we have to acknowledge that we have a problem of systemic racism, and start working on strategies to undo that kind of thinking.”

Members of Black Lives Matter held protests earlier this year at Toronto Police headquarters, demanding end of the carding practice and justice for black people killed by police.

Torstar News Service file

Members of Black Lives Matter held protests earlier this year at Toronto Police headquarters, demanding end of the carding practice and justice for black people killed by police.

A special United Nations working group is in Toronto this week to study issues of racism against black people — and lots of people have plenty to say.

From lack of access to employment, justice and healthcare to the controversial issue of carding and deteriorating relationships with police, members of the city’s black community aren’t holding back about what needs to be fixed.

“What we have seen is a persistent experience of marginalization and systemic discrimination,” said Ndija Anderson, a research lawyer with the African Canadian Legal Clinic.

The Toronto-based firm, which provides legal support and representation to African Canadians in race-based cases, is one of the groups hosting talks with the five-member UN group.

The group will also travel to Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal and other cities, talking with politicians, community organizations and activists. Recommendations born from what they hear will be presented to the federal government and the UN.

The mission comes at a time when discussions about discrimination against black people have reached a high in Canada and the United States, with Black Lives Matter movements accusing police of excessive force.

Ndija Anderson of the African Canadian Legal Clinic is one of the people holding discussions with the special UN group in Toronto.

Torstar News Service file

Ndija Anderson of the African Canadian Legal Clinic is one of the people holding discussions with the special UN group in Toronto.

Anderson said the bigger problem lies in “implicit biases.”

“There’s this pervasive notion of looking at African Canadian people as threatening or being criminals and lazy,” she said. “As a society we have to acknowledge that we have a problem of systemic racism, and start working on strategies to undo that kind of thinking.”

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