A problem no longer swept under the rug

Racial Profiling in Canada
by Carol Tator and Frances Henry
University of Toronto Press 251 pages. Paper $35, Cloth $75

“This book is dedicated to all those who dared to break the silence surrounding racial profiling in Canada: victims and their families; Black and Aborginal communities; the publishers, editors and journalists at the Toronto Star; and those courageous members of law enforcement agencies who dared to challenge the official dominant narratives of denial, deflection and oppression.” So goes the authors’ dedication.

Supported by first hand evidence, this important book is a review of racial profiling and an advocate of the social changes that need to be made in order to place visible minorities on a level playing field with other groups in this multicltural society of ours.

Beginning with the police but moving on
With the assistance of Charles C. Smith and Maureen Brown, each of whom contributes a chapter, Tator and Henry continue their earlier studies of racism in Canada and take as their starting point the groundbreaking series on racial profiling of Blacks by Toronto police published by the Toronto Star in 2002 and which, in spite of protestations from police across Canada as well as politicians and other persons of influence, and the threat of a lawsuit stared down its opponents

But the authors acknowledge that while the term “racial profiling,” of relatively recent origin, is usually confined to police matters their use of the term is broader and includes government and other authorities and the media to rationalize and justify racialized behaviour and practices.

The book pulls no punches in its approach as it lays bare the various attempts to discredit the Toronto Star and the team of journalists who worked on the profiling series and then proceeds to the treatment of minorities other than Blacks, including Aborginals and Muslims. “Racial profiling by the police is ‘ the canary in the coal mine.,” the book concludes. “It alerts us to the reality that insidious and systemic racism exists in all our supposedly democratic institutions.”

No discourse of this nature can be entered into without using sociological terms with which many readers may be unfamiliar. The authors have wisely provided a glossary of such terms.

Racial Profiling deserves wide readership, especially among the young people who will be our future leaders. If Canada is to fulfil its true destiny there are issues here which must be resolved. The conviction with which Tator, Henrey, Smith and Brown present their argument makes this required reading for every Canadian hoping for eventual interracial harmony
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