Anti-Black racism lives just beneath the surface


York University expert available for comment during Black History Month

TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2021 – Canada likes to believe it’s different from its neighbours to the south, that there is less systemic racism, but York University Professor Lorne Foster says the Black experience tells a different story.

Canadians may be more polite about anti-Black racism, but it’s still there in abundance. For instance, Black Canadians are twice as likely to suffer unemployment as white Canadians, and they make up 3.5 per cent of the Canadian population but comprise 8.6 per cent of those incarcerated in federal prisons as of 2017.

headshot of Lorne Foster“Canada is defined as a raceless or post-racial society. That is the dominant cultural narrative,” says Foster. “However, disparities in education, child services, the workplace, as well as the criminal justice system, continue unabated.”

A professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Foster is studying how social, political, and economic factors are shaping the Black Canadian experience through his Blackness in Canada national research initiative. A comprehensive web-based survey, expected to go out later this month, will be the first step in gathering these experiences and perspectives. The research will eventually help inform effective policy and find solutions to dismantle systemic racism.

“Racism is so enmeshed in our society, the structure of our workplaces and schools, that it seems normal,” says Foster, who is a professor of public policy and human rights, director of the Institute for Social Research, and co-editor of the book, Racial Profiling and Human Rights in Canada.

On Thursday, Feb. 25, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, he will deliver the McLaughlin College Black History Month Lecture via zoom on The Importance of Understanding Anti-Black Racism in Canada

Foster can comment on the following:

  • What does it mean to be Black in Canada today?
  • What are the historical disadvantages?
  • Black History Month and the Black identity
  • Systemic anti-Black racism
  • Racial profiling, police carding, and data collection
  • Public policy reform and workplace diversity


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Media Contact:

Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-272-6317,