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Racial Profiling in Canada

Racial Profiling in Canada: Challenging the Myth of 'a Few Bad Apples'

Charles Smith
Maureen Brown
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Racial Profiling in Canada
    Book Description:

    In October 2002, the Toronto Star ran a series of feature articles on racial profiling in which it was indicated that Toronto police routinely target young Black men when making traffic stops. The articles drew strong reactions from the community, and considerable protest from the media, politicians, law enforcement officials, and other public authorities. Although the articles were supported by substantial documentation and statistical evidence, the Toronto Police Association sued the Star, claiming that no such evidence existed. The lawsuit was ultimately rejected in court. As a result, however, the issue of racial profiling - a practice in which certain criminal activities are attributed to individuals or groups on the basis of race or ethno-racial background - was thrust into the national spotlight.

    In this comprehensive and thought-provoking work, Carol Tator and Frances Henry explore the meaning of racial profiling in Canada as it is practised not only by the police but also by many other social institutions. The authors provide a theoretical framework within which they examine racial profiling from a number of perspectives and in a variety of situations. They analyse the discourses of the media, policing officials, politicians, civil servants, judges, and other public authorities to demonstrate how those in power communicate and produce existing racialized ideologies and social relations of inequality through their common interactions. Chapter 3, by contributing author Charles Smith, provides a comparison of experiences of racial profiling and policing in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Chapter 7, by Maureen Brown, through a series of interviews, presents stories that demonstrate the realities of racial profiling in the everyday experiences of Afro-Canadians and ethno-racial minorities.

    Informed by a wealth of research and theoretical approaches from a wide range of disciplines, Racial Profiling in Canada makes a major contribution to the literature and debates on a topic of growing concern. Together the authors present a compelling examination of the pervasiveness of racial profiling in daily life and its impact on our society, while suggesting directions for change.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7897-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    This book on racial profiling begins with a story. ‘Peter Owusu-Ansah’s Nightmare’ by Carol Goar appeared in theToronto Staron 15 August 2004. Peter’s story is repeated daily on the streets of Toronto and in towns and cities across Canada. The victims are often Black, but racial profiling also affects other racialized minority populations, including Aboriginals, Asians, Muslims, Arabs, and Latinos. The following is an edited version of theStararticle:

    Peter Owusu-Ansah is young, Black, and hearing impaired. Over a four-year period he was stopped by the police while riding his bicycle to work, while sitting in coffee...

  5. 1 Theoretical Perspectives
    (pp. 16-37)

    The relations between Black communities and law enforcement agencies have a long and troubled history in several countries, including Canada. We believe that the nexus between race and crime is rooted in racist ideologies as well as in the processes of racialization, culturalization, and criminalization that form the basis for racism in democratic liberal societies. These same processes provide a strong theoretical framework for a critical analysis of racial profiling.

    This book draws from the work of many scholars (Rose 2002; Garland 1996; Visano 2002; Fiske 2000) and is informed by several theoretical perspectives on how postmodern societies marginalize and...

  6. 2 The Interlocking Web of Racism across Institutions, Systems, and Structures
    (pp. 38-54)

    The questions and controversies surrounding the issue of race, crime, and racial profiling cannot be answered in isolation from other institutional and societal contexts. The production and reproduction of racism does not happen within the hermetically sealed walls of law enforcement agencies, nor is it confined to the specific organizational norms and decision-making processes of particular structures. Policing culture and its structures are a composite of ideologies, values, norms, and practices that are deeply connected to and embedded in diverse societal systems.

    In this chapter we look more closely at how the processes of racialization and Whiteness operate and intersect...

  7. 3 Racial Profiling in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom
    (pp. 55-91)

    Racial profiling is the most recent manifestation of the intensely hostile relationship between police and subordinated racialized communities, especially those of African descent. Racial profiling – especially in the form of ‘driving while Black’ police stops (DWB) — has its own history, which is squarely situated within this relationship. Indeed, racial profiling is integral to today’s so-called ‘War on Drugs.’ Those who believe anything else have blinded themselves to certain crucial issues in the historical relationship between people of African descent and the White people of Britain and North America. This history has been monstrous. It has included capturing Black Africans and...

  8. 4 The Culture of Policing
    (pp. 92-112)

    Policing culture is central to an understanding of how this crucial agency of social control relates to the changing needs of an ethnoracially pluralistic society. There is now a very substantial literature on the ‘culture of policing’ (Manning 1977; Reuss-Ianni 1983; Skolnick 1996; Crank 1997; Chan 1997). The increased interest in policing organizations is probably related to the growing heterogeneity of modern and postmodern society as a consequence of globalization and transnationalism. Postmodern societies are increasingly characterized by difference and diversity based on ethnic, cultural, and racial origins. In this chapter we attempt to demonstrate that despite recent reforms in...

  9. 5 The Role of Narrative Inquiry in Social Science Research: Understanding Dominant and Oppositional Discourses
    (pp. 113-122)

    The quote that begins this chapter suggests that discourse is more than a vehicle for communication and interaction. It is not just a symptom and signal of the problem of racism; it essentially produces and reproduces racialized ideologies (van Dijk 1993). Discursive formations imply forms of social organization, as well as social practices that structure institutions and that constitute individuals as thinking, feeling, and acting subjects (Jordan and Weedon 1995). Discourse represents forms of knowledge. That is, it represents ways of constituting our meaning of the world and of assigning to that world an institutional form and discursive location (Foucault...

  10. 6 The Dominent Discourses of White Public Authorities: Narratives of Denial, Deflection, and Oppression
    (pp. 123-150)

    This chapter critically analyses some of the dominant discourses on race, crime, and policing that were, and continue to be, disseminated by public authorities and the media in the weeks and months after the launch of theToronto Starseries on racial profiling and the police. We refer to these discourses as dominant, elite, or hegemonic.

    The dominant elite discourses that were used to challenge the findings of theStarseries on race and crime are highlighted in this chapter. There were two central themes in these discourses: the denial of racism and racial profiling in policing; and the social...

  11. 7 In Their Own Voices: African Canadians in Toronto Share Experiences of Police Profiling
    (pp. 151-183)

    Narrative is one of the most powerful tools available to paint a multidimensional portrait of a community’s experience. I found this especially true as I interviewed African Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area for a study on racial profiling by the police. The study was commissioned by the African Canadian Community Coalition on Racial Profiling (ACCCRP), an ad hoc group formed in the wake of widespread allegations that police single out Blacks for negative treatment. Youth and adults, city dwellers and GTA residents, wealthy suburbanites and inner-city poor – all told me that from their own experience, they believed firmly that...

  12. 8 From Narratives to Social Change: Patterns and Possibilities
    (pp. 184-204)

    The series in theToronto Staron race, crime, and racial profiling provoked a discursive crisis that reverberated across the country, with profound implications for society – specifically, for minority/majority relations in Canada. More than three years after the first article in the series was published, the debate over racial profiling in Toronto continues to rage.

    We have tried to probe beneath the surface of everyday discourses related to racial profiling as reflected in the dominant discourses of White politicians, the police, and other public authorities, including the media. The crisis that has erupted as a result of theStarseries...

  13. Glossary
    (pp. 205-212)
  14. Table of Cases
    (pp. 213-214)
  15. References
    (pp. 215-230)
  16. Index
    (pp. 231-251)