Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present

Robyn Maynard. Fernwood (Brunswick Books, dist.), $25 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-55266-979-2
This pointed critique from writer and activist Maynard is an impeccably documented history that supports her charge that Canada is riddled with systemic, antiblack racism. By plumbing the depths of an often-unacknowledged legacy of Canadian slavery, Maynard draws a clear, centuries-long line from that early history to contemporary black life in Canada that weaves together historic newspaper stories, political commentary, personal accounts, and shocking legislative barriers that collectively paint a very different picture of the mythic promised land at the end of the Underground Railroad. Maynard’s economy of language and patient construction of each case study of institutional racism—in housing, employment, education, immigration, the job market, police-community relations, overrepresentation behind bars, and biased treatment in social services—serve as an airtight indictment of the economic, physical, psychological, and spiritual harm experienced by black Canadian communities. Refusing the notion that oppressed people can only be victims, Maynard also celebrates both historic and modern resistance to white supremacy, including the work of groups such as Black Lives Matter. This ultimately hopeful invitation to confront easily hidden realities honorably serves its intended role as a critical catalyst for urgent change. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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