Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Citizen Carding: Toronto's Amended Carding Policy

Parents keep their eyes on the baby learning to open the the front door or climb over the baby-proof gate. Teachers watch those marking-software graphs, eyes out for a sloping curve. If we are suspicious of something to happen, we may step in and solve it in advance. There should be nothing wrong with this idea, right?

Do you know where I'm going? Maybe you do. A study performed by two researchers, one at the University of California and another at the University of Texas showed that in video games of "action/shooter variety of urban/street gaming, blacks and Latinos are portrayed as brutally violent, casually criminal and sexually promiscuous." Surely a civilized society is not done with racial bias?

If you live in Toronto then you must know where I'm going by now. If you don't live in Toronto then still sit back and I'll fill you in about Toronto's Carding Policy.

This month, amendments to Toronto's c0arding policy were approved by Toronto's Police Board. In the revised policy, police officers do not need to give receipts to those they have stopped. Instead they hand out a business card. They do not need to explain citizens of their right to walk away. They can investigate any citizen without a specified reason to do so. The policy's amendments come against the Ontario Human Rights Commission's reccomendations which include informing carded citizens of their right to leave and be silent, collecting and analysing race-based data to detect racial biases in the first place, hand out receipts, limiting an officer's power to stop a person and ridding any carding-related data which "lacks a non-discriminatory explanation."

Even though Toronto is only 8 percent black, in July 2014 the Toronto Star revealed that 27.4 percent of those carded are black. My calculator gives 3.4 times likely to be carded.

A police officer cannot be a community member when using racial bias on the job while serving a community. It may not be a crime, yet when we over-target specific communities, we continue to show that blacks are untrustworthy. We continue to propagate the idea which sat on the North American Plate since the first European settlers arrived, that a person with darker skin is more uncivilized than a person of lighter skin. We continue to put those of dark colour in fear of their next encounter and frustration of why it might be the twenty-sixth time or fiftieth time a police car has stopped them while doing nothing wrong in the first place. Last summer I read Malala Yousafzai's I am Malala (currently one of my favourite books) in which she describes her childhood in Pakistan, a place where one must bribe their way to a fair trial. I heard stories from India of authorities that will not give you a fair say for whom you are. When we allow those in authority to use discrimination on the job, we only stumble a few steps back - or let me be more inclusive and say wheel a few metres back - rather than moving forward to build the progressive multicultural society we want to boast of, some already doing. Race-based policing has no place and neither does a policy which embraces it.

Mark Saunders. Taken from:
The Toronto Police Board chose Mark Saunders as our new chief on April 17th. Unlike Blair, his skin is dark enough to call him black. Can we expect changes to the carding policy? I cannot say I know so. I'm not sure whether Saunders will uphold the policies rooted or shovel around the tree until it tips it over. Meanwhile I urge Saunders to amend the policy. I urge Toronto's police board to stand up to the amended carding policy. I want to walk Toronto's streets believing we live in a society of fair trial where you are not discriminated by a person in authority for whom you are. No person in authority should put down a person for their colour or stereotype.

- FA

P. S: I'm sorry to hear about the earthquake in Nepal. My prayers are with them and this week I'll be donating to relief efforts.

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