Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently featured in multiple news articles about anti-Black racism in Canada

June 10, 2021 by Victoria Shi

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah's research on anti-Black racism was recently featured in multiple news sources including U of T News, CTV News, CBC News, and CityNews. 

On U of T and CTV News, Professor Owusu-Bempah shares his finding that young Black men in Ontario are not only "starkly overrepresented" in the prison system, but also spend a lengthier amount of time in jail compared to white men. He states that this overrepresentation is occurring because society treats young Black men unequally and "criminalizes them before they've engaged in any kind of criminal activity". Professor Owusu-Bempah concludes that despite the common notion of Canada faring better in race relations compared to the US, we are not much different in our treatment towards racialized populations.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. His research examines the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a focus on policing.

We've included an excerpt from the article titled "Akwasi Owusu-Bempah on the legacy of George Floyd and anti-Black racism in Canada" by U of T News. You can read the full article here.

"I think there’s still more that needs to be done to raise awareness. We need to have a more fulsome understanding, especially in the Canadian context, of the ways in which the history of this country has led to experiences in the present. We can’t fully understand why it is that Black people and Indigenous Peoples have the contemporary experiences that we do, and experience the marginalization they do, without a fulsome understanding of the historical processes that got us here.

We’re increasingly recognizing that in the Indigenous context. Truth and reconciliation has done a decent job of increasing awareness, but we haven’t had the same in the context of Black Canadians – so the realities of slavery, segregation and the legacy that they’ve left are not fully acknowledged. One of the key things is that when we look at this in a historical context, we like to think that colonialism, slavery and segregation are features of the distant past. It’s important to recognize that segregation existed on the books until the 1960s in Ontario. The last segregated school in Nova Scotia closed in the 1980s. The last residential school closed in the 1990s. This is all within our lifetimes. The historical reality of deep-seated structural racism in our society is much closer to the present day than many people like to acknowledge."

Below are links to the other articles mentioned in this story.

"'Striking, shocking and saddening': Study finds Black men overrepresented in Ontario jails" by CTV News. Read the full article here.

"Regis Korchinski-Paquet's family hires private investigator after SIU clears police" by CBC News. Read the full article here.

"Family 'still fighting' for answers a year after Korchinski-Paquet's death" by CityNews. Read the full article here.