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2. Naming Racism

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In 2003, the Commission released its Racial Profiling Inquiry report, Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, which examined the impact of racial profiling on people from racialized communities. Among the recommendations made in Paying the Price was that,

Persons in positions of leadership in Ontario, including government officials, should accept and acknowledge the existence of profiling and demonstrate a willingness to undertake action to combat it.[2]

Effective responses to racial discrimination and racial profiling start with acknowledging that racism exists. While often displayed overtly, racism can also take on subtle, unconscious or covert forms. In the Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination (“Policy”), the Commission noted that great stigma attaches to allegations of racism, leading to a tendency to deny its existence in general or in a particular situation. In the Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers, individuals from many institutions were ready to engage in dialogue about racial profiling and saw the benefits of combating it. However, many individuals also expressed that racism was difficult to discuss and were reluctant to include strong messages about it as part of their commitments. Many had concerns that by naming the issue, it paints the whole community or organization as “racist,” generates problems where they may not exist, perpetuates negativity, or was not seen as part of the mandate of the organization.

These strong stigmas associated with discussing racism and racial discrimination present a challenge to the Commission in moving forward generally on initiatives to combat racial discrimination. Although it may be difficult to discuss, the Commission maintains that when racism is named as a problem, organizations become better equipped to appropriately address and prevent it, and are better able to give voice to people who experience it. The Commission is committed to continuing to raise awareness of racial profiling and racial discrimination with public and private institutions in order to provide a forum for open dialogue.

[2] Ontario Human Rights Commission (2003). Paying the Price: the Human Cost of Racial Profiling. Ontario.p. 69.

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