Act 2: Society and Systems
Synthesis of Key Themes
- There are no race-neutral or non-racist policies. Every policy promotes either inequity or equity within an institution, community, or nation (Chapter 1).
- Institutional, structural, and systemic racism are synonyms – one reinforces the other (Chapter 1).
- Focusing on discriminatory “events” is a distraction from the central agents of racism: racist power policymakers (Chapter 1).
- Discriminatory policies that create equitable outcomes are anti-racist policies (Chapter 1).
- Race-neutral policies merely impede the advancement of non-Whites toward equity (Chapter 1).
- “Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas. Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas” (Chapter 1, p. 20).
- Business-as-usual climate policies are a form of environmental racism, as seen in the vulnerability experienced by the non-White Global South being disproportionately impacted by the anthropogenic (human-induced) activity in the White Global North (Chapter 1).
- It is easier to personalize racist acts as deficiencies in people rather than identifying the impact of policies and systems (Chapter 2).
- Cultural assimilation is a racist policy as it suggests that the dominant way of living is a benchmark based on a racial hierarchy (Chapter 3).
- To achieve anti-racism or a post-race world, we must first acknowledge categorizations — Latinx, Asian, African, Europeans, Indigenous, or Middle Eastern — as these six “races” constitute power identities, and race is a power construct (Chapter 3).
- Race creates new forms of power; it frames how you judge, evaluate, exclude, and include other racial groups as monolithic (Chapter 3).
- Racializing ethnic groups serves the core mandate of race, which is to create “hierarchies of value” (Chapter 5, p. 62).
- Social and cultural norms and standards dictate the hierarchy of what is acceptable, which leads to cultural racism (Chapter 7, p. 83).
- Colourism supports and promotes that superiority is attached to the lighter pigment and complexion of an individual. Thus, it attributes good behaviour to something that is closest to the White body (Chapter 8).
- Conceptions of beauty need to be liberated to encompass a diverse range of expressions (Chapter 8).
- White supremacy is a code of anti-human sentiment that is also an existential threat to human existence (Chapter 10).
- Black people can also be racist because there is also power represented in Black communities. It is directly connected to an individual’s power to resist (Chapter 11).
- Generalizations made at the intersections of race, class, and behaviour lead to class racism, which creates elitist policies that are often targeted at specific racial groups, justifying them by racist ideas and stereotypes about the given group (Chapter 11).
- We must consider racism at the intersection of capitalism – a problem that is really a function of economic exploitation and the problem of war (Chapter 11).
- Capitalism and racism are conjoined twins – neither lives in historical or material reality (Chapter 11).
- Power has racialized both people and spaces: (a) the ghetto, (b) the inner city, and (c) the “Third World,” all occupied by a racial majority (Chapter 13).
- Space racism justifies resource inequity. White spaces are seen as desirable; non-White spaces are less desirable (Chapter 13).
The following are some suggested themes and topics to be explored during this Act. Depending on your own frame of reference and the direction you hope to take, it may be helpful to do some preliminary research. Our suggestion is that you approach these themes in a variety of ways, including small-group discussions, sharing circles, visual prompts, brainstorming activities, and annotations.
*Although you may be looking to offer contextual and factual information, prioritize establishing a collective understanding of your theme, and use this as a building block for further discussion and exploration with the group.
- Race as a Concept
- Race Origins
- The White Mans Burden
- Racist vs. Anti-Racist
- Racist, Assimilationist, Segregationist, Anti-Racist
- Case Studies from Around the Globe
- Canadian Time Line of Acts and Events
- Critical Race Theory
- Conjoined Twins
- Capitalism and Business as Usual
- Who Speaks for the Environment?
- Intersectional Urbanism
Racist, Assimilationist, Segregationist, Antiracist
Racist, Assimilationist, Segregationist, Antiracist (Kendi, 2019, p.24).
- Racist: Supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
- Assimilationist: Expressing the idea that a racial group is culturally or behaviourally inferior and is supporting cultural/behavioural enrichment programs to develop the group.
- Segregationist: Expressing the idea that a permanently inferior racial group can never be developed and supporting policy that segregates that group.
- Antiracist: Expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing and is supporting policy that reproduce racial inequity.
- Caste system separates Dalits (Untouchables) from others in society (India)
- Apartheid limits the rights and mobility of Blacks (South Africa)
- Ku Klux Klan members lynch freed slaves (United States)
- Residential schools’ mandate of “Kill the Indian in him and save the man” amounts to cultural genocide (Canada)
- Nazi state-sponsored persecution of Jews leads to the Holocaust (Germany)
- Anti-Asian hate crimes increase over COVID-19 (Global)
- Blanquemiento practices look to mejorar la raza (Latin America)
- “Stop and frisk” policy by NYC police officers targets Black and Latinx New Yorkers (United States)
- Trump’s travel ban restricts travel for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (United States)
- Halifax Regional Municipality refuses provision of amenities to residents in Africville, eventually demolishing it and displacing its residents (Canada)
- Reflecting on intersectional urbanism, what are some of the elements of space, class, and biology that you see and experience in your immediate environment?
- Thinking of your own urban or rural spaces, what stereotypes are associated with the areas that carry a negative stigma in your town or city? How has this impacted your perception, comfort, and frequenting of this space?
- What are some current societal structures, policies, pedagogies, or frameworks that suggest an improvement but have instead had a direct negative impact on a racial or ethnic group’s experience in Canada or around the world?
- Do these policies reflect an assimilationist or segregationist approach? What could these approaches look like with an anti-racist approach?
- Think of your relationship with policy as a decision maker or part of the electorate. Reflecting on your own context and individual privilege (economic, relational, spatial etc.), what actions can you take to amplify Indigenous and racialized narratives and advocate for their concerns to be reflected in policy?
- What are some takeaways from this Act that you can use to design and facilitate ethical spaces that embrace this type of local or global advocacy?
- Discuss one feeling that has surfaced for you during this Act.
- Reflect on one new orientation you’ve gained from this Act.
- Collectively brainstorm steps or actions that this Act has inspired you to take.
- With this theme, create a map of the relationships you see between the opportunities and threats that exist for racialized people to access and freely experience it in your area.
- Using pluses and minuses, highlight the feedback loops that exist as a result of policies, structures, and relationships.
- Place yourself on the map, and consider where you intersect and what opportunities you have to affect change in policy.
- Are the current barriers a reflection of racist (assimilationist or segregationist) or anti-racist policies?
- Fine arts
- Food security
- Environment (natural)
- Remind participants that the objective is not to create an exhaustive depiction that is accurate but rather to locate themselves.
- Have participants share their rationale for including positive or negative feedback loops in their diagram.
- This activity can also be done successfully using a flipchart or white paper. Do not let using a new tech tool distract from the content or intent of the activity.
- Consider some examples from the White Paper, 1969 (Canada), Jim Crow (United States), apartheid (South Africa), or the caste system (India).
Sithole, T. (2016). The concept of the Black subject in Fanon, Journal of Black Studies, 47(1), 24–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021934715609913.
Rashid, A. (2021). “Racism & the Americanization of Canadian history: Why we shouldn’t look at ourselves through a U.S. lens, The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/racism-and-the-americanization-of-canadian-history-why-we-shouldnt-look-at-ourselves-through-a-u-s-lens-159974
Gray, A. (2019). The bias of ‘professionalism’ standards, Standford Social Innovation Review. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_bias_of_professionalism_standards.
Deggans, E. (Host). (2020). Not racist” is not enough: Putting in the work to be anti-racist. [Podcast]. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/905515398/not-racist-is-not-enough-putting-in-the-work-to-be-anti-racist
Canadaland. (2020). The police #2 — The secret history of the RCMP. [Podcast]. https://www.canadaland.com/podcast/the-police-2-the-secret-history-of-the-rcmp/
Warrior Life. (2020). Desmond Cole on anti-Black racism in Canada & US on Apple Podcasts. [Podcast]. https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/desmond-cole-on-anti-black-racism-in-canada-us/id1434096503?i=1000476463578
The Globe and Mail. (2016). Colour code: A podcast about race in Canada. [Podcast]. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/colour-code-podcast-race-in-canada/article31494658/
CTV News. (2020). W5: Balarama Holness fights against systemic racism in Canada. [TV show]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjsTcw0abhs
Hudson, S. & Loretto, N., (Hosts). (2021). Canada’s democratic deficit. [Podcast*]. https://sandyandnora.com/
* Sandy and Nora is a Canadian political podcast that discusses current events and has great episodes over the last year and a half on Black Lives Matter, White supremacy, and police violence in a Canadian context. See episodes 119, 117, 103, 104, and 99.
Chariandy, D. (2018). I’ve been meaning to tell you: A letter to my daughter. McClelland & Stewart.
Cole, D. (2020). The skin we’re in: A year of Black resistance and power (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2020).
Diverlus, R., Hudson, S., & Ware, S. M. (Eds.). (2020). Until we are free : Reflections on Black Lives Matter Canada. University of Regina Press.
Saad, L. F. (2020). Me and white supremacy: Combat racism, change the world, and become a good ancestor. Sourcebooks.
(Kendi, 2019, p. 166)
((Kendi, 2019, p. 151)
bi· o· log· i· cal (/bī-ə-ˈlä-ji-kəl/)
(Kendi, 2019, p. 44)
Discuss and describe key content themes.
Unpack and elaborate on the definitions Kendi proposes.
Discuss the intersectional forms of racism that exist and their implications for individual experiences.
Gain a greater understanding of critical race theory, intersectionality, and other frameworks that offer context for the multidimensional nature of racism.
Consider and apply key learnings to various contexts.
Discuss implications of racism both individually and structurally.
Look at what racism means in the Canadian context.
Understand what racism means within global structures and systems.
Connect ideas across multiple contexts, including personal, professional, and pedagogical.
Recognize and identify personal steps to become an anti-racist.
Gain awareness of individual biases and the impact of our schemas on both our own and others’ experiences with racism.
Engage openly and authentically.
Communicate appropriately for various contexts, audiences, and purposes.
Facilitate and support others to have conversations about racism.
Recognize the importance of humility to anti-racism.
Apply intersectional and transdisciplinary lenses to the multidimensional elements of individual experience.
Consider and apply key learnings to various contexts.
This includes self, society, and schools (specifically post-secondary education contexts).
Plan, design, and facilitate a book club, anti-racism task force, or similar equity, diversity, and inclusion undertaking at your institution.
Design and facilitate appropriate interventions that reflect an anti-racist approach and a pedagogy for self, society, and schools.
Apply learned methodology, frameworks, and techniques.
Create brave, safe, ethical spaces that allow for authentic sharing by approaching difficult conversations with generative discourse.
Effectively incorporate Book Club Hub resources, media, technology tools, and approaches to enhance communication and increase participants’ scope and understanding of the topics discussed.