‘From taking a knee to taking a stand’: Why anti-Black racism in Canada can’t be ignored
Debra Thompson has dealt with racism most of her life.
Growing up as a Black woman in Oshawa, Ont., in the ’90s, she said some salons wouldn’t cut her hair, she felt watched in department stores, and couldn’t find makeup to match her skin tone.
“I was brought up with the understanding that Black people have to work twice as hard to get half as much,” says Thompson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon who specializes in race and ethnic politics.
Thompson made the move to the U.S. to begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in 2010, and as one of many who have lived in both countries, she says Canadians can no longer ignore anti-Black racism at home.
“It was really challenging to convince Canadians that race mattered.”
Protests have been ongoing in Canada and across the world, as thousands of people are calling for an end to anti-Black racism and police brutality in response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Protests in several Canadian cities also sought to bring attention to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. The 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman fell from her high-rise balcony following an interaction with police. The case is currently being investigated by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit.