Tag Archives: profiling

A storify re: Reclaiming our Narratives: Racial and Gender Profiling in Toronto

Storify just collects tweets, so you can use it to tell a story about an event or issue.  Here’s one I put together after attending this event, (you can see the event announcement here).
It was great. Congratulations to the organizers on a really well put together public event.  I met some really great women, learned a lot, had feelings and thoughts at the same time (!), wallowed in being one of the oldest people in the room.  Sometimes folks ask me, what’s up with the younger feminists, what are they reading, what are they doing, what are they thinking?  Here’s one piece of the answer.  Been to any really great events related to feminism and law lately? Want to post about them, even after the fact? About the experience of being there? Let me know.



Reclaiming our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto

GRP - PosterThis event has been fully booked for a while.  It’s tomorrow at Osgoode, organized by a dynamic group of women and a great collection of organizations (see below for a complete list).  IFLS is pleased to be a sponsor of this event and once the post-event report is finished, we’ll hope to have it available on this blog.

You can find a full description of the event below – or click here for a program in pdf.

Reclaiming Our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto 

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 9:30AM to 6:30PM

We all seem to be talking about racial profiling – from lawyers to police officers; from the media to politicians; from people who are profiled every day to those who have never been subject to the experience. But what aren’t we talking about when we talk about racial profiling?
Join us on November 28, 2015, as we discuss the many ways gender impacts racial profiling. We will highlight the often silenced stories of women, girls and trans people, and their experiences with racial profiling — whether at the border or in jails, whether it’s the direct experience of being profiled or the indirect experience of parents and supporters of those who are profiled.

10:00am: Keynote 11:00am: Police brutality and incarceration 12:00pm: Border policing 1:00pm: Lunch & free clothing bank provided by Windfall Clothing 2:00pm: Racial profiling and reproductive justice 3:00pm: Youth experiences 4:00pm: Closing plenary: remedies and resistance
We know these conversations can be traumatizing for people who are forced to live with the experience of being profiled. We will strive to create a safe and accessible space for speakers, facilitators, and attendees by providing the following services throughout the conference:
active listeners and/or counsellors; ASL language interpretation; child-minding;  Halal food options; gender-neutral washrooms;  room accessibility for mobility devices and tokens for transportation support.
A final report detailing the conference will be produced and distributed. We will also explore other ways to share the event’s key insights.
Organizing Partners:
This event is the collective effort of a number of people and organizations, including
Across Boundaries (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Andrea Anderson, PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University; Anti-Black Racism Network (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (rep: Fathima Cader); Harmony Movement (rep: Brittany Andrew-Amofah); METRAC (rep: Jessica Mustachi); Network to Eliminate Police Violence (rep: Kimalee Phillip)


Hoodies (What not to wear, encore)

Osgoode’s Black Law Student’s Association put out a call for members of the Osgoode community to wear red/black hoodies in a photo today as a sign of “solidarity with Trayvon Martin and his family in their time of tragedy” (March 29, 2012 12:15pm Atrium).  The facts of Martin’s murder (which is, of course, a legal term of art that I’m using even though it’s pretty clear that Florida doesn’t think it applies) are egregious and covered everywhere in news and commentary (I particularly like Colorlines, and Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic for his incredibly thoughtful passion on a variety of topics).

Canada, of course, has very different gun laws and self defence laws.  A stand in solidarity with the family knows no boundaries or jurisdiction, but what other actions on this issue might be meaningful for Canadians?  Let us assume that a Zimmerman here would be in custody.  Is this a U.S. issue?  Of course, it is not, though the context here is different.   It made me think of three things, so I’ve just done a little roundup of links based on these different lines of thought.

First, of course, about state sponsored profiling, surveillance and violence against people, particularly young men, of colour.  Any who haven’t had a look at the Toronto Star’s recent series “Known to Police” about the incredible levels of police stops/documentation of black and brown people, particularly in certain city neighbourhoods, you can find it here.  Early last year, I did a few posts on profiling arising out of the case of Stacy Bonds, in Ottawa, because I thought these highlighted gender as a sometimes hidden issue in profiling – for both racialised women and men, gender is very relevant to the context and consequences of “profiling”.  These are critical issues for Canadian law enforcement.  If you’re interested, I recommend following the activities of U Windsor Law’s “LEAP” (Law Enforcement Accountability Project), hereDirector Prof. David Tanovich writes about and litigates in racial profiling cases.


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/OsgoodeIFLS/status/184670434384556033″]

Second, I thought about the clothing thing.  Hoodies, Hijabs, slutty clothes.  Too little, too much, scary, provocative.  I appreciate the importance of the hoodie protests, but I did love the one below, from Wake Forest students, which mixes hoodies and hijabs.  This blog has had a significant amount of stuff about the niqab, but mainly centered around the niqab in court case, N.S. (see here).  I haven’t looked at the cases of women who are accosted in public and assaulted by people who try to tear off their veil like this one, or this one, nor at more common incidents of discrimination against women wearing the scarf, the veil, niqab or burqa.  There is a recognition of the connection between these two items.

There is also significant recognition of the ways in which placing the blame on the hoodie replicates the narrative which sees rape as a consequence of women’s clothing choices (see here for all the IFLS posts on slutwalk and related issues).   So lest you wonder whether Hoodies are a Feminist issue, there are, in my view, at least 4 solid central reasons that the answer is yes.  Audre Lorde puts one of the reasons better than I ever could:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying  .
Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”

My last thought was that I don’t need to analogize Zimmerman to police in order to get into the Canadian context. I can look to private security companies, particularly in malls or even the security provided at Universities and Colleges and schools, and the ways that these entities engage with the racialized public.  See here for the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s info sheet on profiling – it goes far beyond police, and beyond security guards.  The OHRC’s 2003 Report, the Human Cost of Racial Profiling, isn’t purely law enforcement focused.  It takes testimony from those members of our community who have been directly affected, and is worth a read:

“It would be interesting if the powers that be would at least listen to the comments coming out of the affected communities. An entire community cannot have the same impression and … all [be] deluded.” (R.M.) (The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, p13)

“This situation actually scares me because I have teenage children and I have an older son, and I fear when they go into a mall … I constantly counsel my son because of issues like this that occur about going out into the public and how to conduct yourself and what happens if something like this happens, the reaction is anger, the reaction is frustration, at their young age, if they react, then the situation escalates even further.” (L.V.) (at p21)

“My friends who are White are bewildered because their sons do not get stopped, and my friends with Black children are afraid, because they have already had their own teenaged sons stopped, or they have young sons coming up who they know will experience the same treatment. … “(D.W.) (at p25)

I include these testimonials because I wonder what I should along with standing in the photo (if they let me, my hoodie isn’t the right colour, i had only brown and orange, not red or black…).  Trayvon’s case seems, to so many, such an obvious miscarriage of justice – a true travesty, so egregious.  But the reality is that profiling is normalised, that blaming people for the misfortunes they experience because of what they wear, for the suspicions that fall upon them because of how they look, is so ordinary as to be an organizing factor in our daily lives.  It’s true for me that, hoodie or not, these days I could probably walk around Mount Dennis (one of the neighbourhoods the Star focused on in their Known to Police series) for days without getting stopped.  It’s been a long time since the last time I think my partner was racially profiled (he speeds, so not every stop is suspect).  Even the cousins and friends are aging out of the bad years.  I don’t have as much time as I used to have to hang about in the mall with my friends, and the suspicions of sales people about who has enough money to be where feel insulting but not dangerous to me because of class/professional privilege.  So what should I be doing?   I don’t wear the hijab.  And I’ve kind of aged out of certain kinds of reactions others might have to my clothes.   How should I be demanding accountability from our police forces? How should I be challenging the daily, non police, profiling that goes on?  What political and personal actions can I take?  I’ve got some ideas.  I could use more.


As a postcript, this morning on CBC a caller pointed out the way that the word hoodie itself brings in the notion of “hood” – bad guy.  Check out Law Prof Antony Paul Farley’s poetic riff on the word here, at SaltLaw,  Or revisit David Cameron’s so called “hug a hoodie” speech: “For some, the hoodie represents all that’s wrong about youth culture in Britain today. For me, adult society’s response to the hoodie shows how far we are from finding the long-term answers to put things right.”.  One of my colleagues told me that the hoodie, in Saskatchewan, is called a Bunny Hug.  And not that I was checking up on her, but I googled it, and I found corroboration in … the Miami Herald?   The piece closes with a clear hit:

Humans give fashion its meaning. Not the other way around.




Gender Invisible: "Many Police Stops in New York Unjustified, Study Says"

Many Police Stops in New York Unjustified, Study Says – NYTimes.com.

This NYT article on the study, conducted for a test case being  brought by the US Center for Constitutional Rights is interesting and informative.  I suspect that the study is as well, and this issue is critically important.  But with my gender analysis hat on, let me tell you this: Not once in this article is gender mentioned.  So you get really interesting findings:

Another of the Fagan study’s main areas of focus was where stops were concentrated.

It found that the highest proportion of stops occur within police precincts that cover areas with large numbers of black and Hispanic residents. A chart in the study shows that in the quartile of the city with the highest concentrations of black residents, the police stopped people at a rate two to three times as much per criminal complaint than in the quartile of the precincts with the lowest percentage of black residents.

But, isn’t something missing? Is it just intended to be obvious that we’re talking about men?

I’m certainly not alone in thinking that the intersection of race and gender holds a good deal of explanatory power, and I think that it’s equally interesting and important to be asking about gender in these cases.   I don’t know what we’d see with the gender data.  Maybe we’d learn something about gaps in the experiences of black men and women in NYC.  Or, maybe the data would show something surprising – how many people, on reading the article, actually picture the police stopping women at all?  Likely to capture the depth of raced and gendered discrimination in policing you have to study a variety of police activities – not just stops, but for instance, conversations with victims of crime, family members of those arrested detained, etc.

Here’s a link to the CCR and the case they are bringing – it includes a link to the study itself. If you check it out, let us know through the comments what’s in there. I cannot spend anymore time on the internet today!