A year has passed since the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa — a brief moment of self-reflection that punctured through a stubborn, willful and long-standing national blindness.
Picture this: it's about midnight, and two black men are walking up the street in their neighbourhood after enjoying a meal out.
Up ahead in the distance, four young white men, guitars on their backs and shoulders, are walking on the street. The two black men notice a Toronto Police Services car coming south towards them. The car passes the young white men, but as it approaches the two black men, it slows down deliberately. The two officers look at the black men, making sure the men see their stare, as they continue to drive slowly down the street.
Posted by Minelle Mahtani and Rinaldo Walcott · May 26, 2014 6:19 AM
Truth, progress and science.
The relationship between these concepts is unwieldy and complex. As media scholars, we read Margaret Wente’scolumn heralding journalist Nicholas Wade’s new book and cringed, recognizing the ease with which these concepts were used to tell a misleading story about race.
Renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby’s intervention into the Rob Ford spectacle got me thinking about the ways in which this civic mess has unfolded. Namely, it has brought into focus how privilege continues to be accrued unfairly to certain individuals and communities and not others in Canadian society.
Toronto Police Chief William Blair’s announcement concerning the recovery of the infamous video came just as a judge’s ruling on disclosure of the warrant became public. Some of what has been revealed in those documents is more damning than the reality of the video. The video vindicates the reporters and the Toronto Star in particular. However, the documents raise a whole other set of issues and concerns, ones that are bigger than Rob Ford and the specifics of his actions and represent a far more troubling, systemic scandal.
Detroit's recent bankruptcy filing led me to re-read a fine award-winning book by Thomas J. Sugrue, “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit.” The basic argument of the book is that the crisis of that city – now a mainly black, overwhelmingly poor city, a fraction of its former size and a shadow of its former magnificence – is deeply rooted in persistent discrimination against blacks at the workplace and in housing.