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New survey a ‘first step’ to dismantling anti-Black racism: researcher

47 per cent of Black Canadians say they have been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay or promotion in the last year


By Adina Bresge

Seven in 10 Black Canadians have experienced racism on a regular or occasional basis, suggests a preliminary study that experts are calling a “first step” toward dismantling systemic discrimination.

Researchers at York University released early findings Friday from a national survey examining how Black Canadians experience race and racism across social spheres.

The interim report, produced in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, draws from the responses of roughly 5,500 participants, including about 1,800 Black people, between March 21 and May 5.

Action urged to end anti-Black racism in public service

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The ongoing study finds that 70 per cent of Black respondents reported facing racism regularly or from time to time, compared to roughly half of Indigenous people and other racialized people.

More than one in five Black respondents told researchers that they have been unfairly stopped by the police in the last year.

Lead author Lorne Foster says the research breaks new ground in compiling granular data on Black Canadians, in contrast to existing literature that combines all racialized groups into the catch-all category of “visible minorities.”

“We see this data as really the first step in dismantling systemic racism, particularly anti-Black systemic racism,” says Foster, the director of York University’s Institute for Social Research

“With this type of information, it’s difficult now to even deny or ignore the calls from the Black community to address racism in the major sectors and institutions of our society.”

Confronting racism at work

Foster says researchers are using traditional online survey techniques and new digital tool to gather a wide breadth of insights, including participant-submitted policy proposals.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Foster says he and his team will continue to refine and expand their investigation as data collection continues through June 1.

But the initial results paint a clear and detailed picture of the extent to which anti-Black racism pervades Canada’s systems of education, health care and criminal justice, he says.

Of particular concern is racism in the professional world, which Foster pointed to as a primary driver for socioeconomic disparities along racial lines.

A staggering 96 per cent of Black respondents said that racism is a problem in the workplace, including 78 per cent who saw it as a serious issue.

Moreover, 47 per cent of Black Canadians told researchers they have been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay or promotion in the last year.