On Wednesday, city council will consider Toronto's Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, a five-year plan that aims to tackle the systemic racism the city's 200,000 citizens of African descent face in spaces like schools, police stations, and community centres.

"Anti-Black racism exists in Toronto," writes Mayor John Tory in the plan's introduction. "I believe this is an important statement for the Mayor of Toronto to make."

Black Torontonians, the document says, remain significantly more likely to be expelled from school, unemployed, incarcerated, or victimized in hate crimes.

The request is for nearly $1 million in 2018 to begin putting the 22 wide-ranging recommendations, which address five areas, in motion. 

If adopted, it would see more money put into services and community centres in areas with larger black populations, a greater emphasis on diversity in the city's hiring practices, and a review of police training methods to prevent black Torontonians from being racially profiled and over-policed.

Recommendations also call for actions that range from adding employment programs for youth to improving health services for black Torontonians and seeing that all city staff receive anti-black racism training.

The theory is that Toronto — as one of the city's largest employers, landlords, and service providers — is well placed to make a dent on the baked-in barriers encountered by black citizens. 

Plan praised as good start

"I think it's an excellent start. What I love about it is it's concrete," said Kofi Hope, executive director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, in an interview with Metro Morning last week. 

Hope, who consulted on the some recommendations of the plan, said that anti-black racism can rear its head on both a "subconscious" level and in "blatant issues" in the city. 

"We are experiencing those systems every day. When you talk to folks, you hear instance after instance of microaggressions, or being excluded," he said. 

The action plan is the final push of a four-stage process to address racism that began in 2016 with the Toronto For All campaign.  

Since then, the city has undertaken a review of 41 years of past recommendations and followed up with 41 separate community conversations about what the plan should contain.

toronto poster

An image from 2016's Toronto For All campaign. (Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants)