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Partner perspective: Eliminating racism

Posted: Jan 08, 2018

Vanessa de Koninck
Executive Director, Centre for Race & Culture

The bold move to name racism speaks to EndPovertyEdmonton’s goal of addressing systemic barriers and root causes that keep racialized and Indigenous peoples in poverty.

The EndPovertyEdmonton (EndPovertyEdmonton) Strategy identifies eliminating racism as one of its six game changers that will make a substantial difference to those living in poverty in our city. The bold move to name racism speaks to EndPovertyEdmonton’s goal of addressing systemic barriers and root causes that keep racialized and Indigenous peoples in poverty. Experiences of racism make it difficult for people to find good jobs, housing, and feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.

For many Edmontonians, racism remains a major obstacle to their full participation, inclusion, and achievement of their potential. This can occur on individual levels, such as individuals experiencing racial slurs or the spreading of anti-Islamic flyers through Edmonton neighbourhoods. Importantly though, racism is also the discrimination, oppression and violence embedded in the dominant culture and social institutions, which produces outcomes including long and short-term health disparities, and inequitable access to education, employment, housing, social services, and decision-making positions.

Research on best practices for addressing racism and fostering social inclusion point to the strong role that government policies and programs can play (for example). Such changes can only occur if those in power have the knowledge and will to address these issues, and take seriously the challenge of eliminating racism in Edmonton. If you want to address these issues with your elected officials, here are some questions you can consider:

  • Employment: Does the official understand the importance of recruiting and retaining professional staff and employees that reflect the diversity of Edmonton? Do they have ideas for how to increase the equitable representation of racialized groups in government agencies, boards and commissions?
  • Engagement: Does the official understand and acknowledge the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the populations they will serve? Have they planned for decision-making processes that do not exclude or marginalize racialized and Indigenous groups?
  • Safety and policing: Is the official aware of the safety and policing concerns of Edmonton’s racialized and Indigenous communities? For example, what is the candidate’s awareness of, and position on, racial profiling and carding in Edmonton?
  • Housing: Does the official demonstrate an inclusive understanding of Edmonton’s housing affordability situation? Do they engage in dog-whistle language, or make unsubstantiated claims that tap into fears and prejudices?
  • Education and training: Does the official support mandatory anti-racism training for all city staff?

Vanessa de Koninck is the Executive Director of the Centre for Race and Culture. She has over 20 years’ experience in the complex arena of intercultural collaboration, community advocacy, and engagement. She holds a BS, MA and PhD in Anthropology, which informs her approach to using qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic techniques and principles to achieving traction on pressing social issues.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EndPovertyEdmonton.

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