New report calls on B.C. government to address anti-Black racism in province


A new report released on Thursday highlights anti-Black racism in the province and measures the B.C. government can take to address it.

The report, authored by the African Art & Cultural Community Contributor Society (AACCCS), specifically highlights the experiences of people of African descent from excelling in the province.

AACCCS spent more than six months of research, collecting data from more than 2,000 members of the African diaspora in B.C.

A recurring issue the group found was a lack of representation across many fields, including in education, the economy and politics.

“Systemic and structural racism, oppression, discrimination still endures. It’s clear and it’s been indicated by our report,” said Smith Oduro-Marfo, one of the lead writers of the report.

He also said he didn’t find the results surprising.

“It’s only fair that every member of society has an equitable chance and we have to recognize that some have not had this chance over the years. And this is the time. This is the moment,” he said.

According to the report, more than 75 per cent of respondents expressed anti-Black racism experiences in school which impacted their educational experience.

In the workplace, 78 per cent of respondents identified under-representation as the main obstacle in career growth and 53 per cent were concerned they were rejected for a job because of their identity.

The trend continues for aspiring entrepreneurs as 71 per cent of respondents expressed challenges in getting financing to start a business.

Negative experiences were also felt by many migrants as 25 per cent of respondents reported not feeling welcomed in the province and only 13 per cent expressed positive feelings from their resettlement experience.

“It’s very important that an acknowledgment is been made at some point to recognize that people of African descent have experienced injustices and issues in the past,” said Dom Makay, another lead writer of the report.

The study also reveals there is poor representation in government as well due to lack of funding and mentoring programs, weak support systems and a lack of role models.

The authors of the report urge the province to improve this by prioritizing active recruitment of people of African descent, dedicating mental health and counselling support and investing in initiatives that support and encourage civic engagement.

“The biggest challenge has been for people of African descent to be seen for what they actually are: a separate group within the people of colours,” said Makay.

“Because when you look at the [BIPOC] framework, it’s clearly highlighted in the name — Indigenous, Black, people of colour. But when you look at the policies and the work and everything else, the Black component is often diluted in the POC component,” he added.

He added that the report is a great first step in validating the experiences of what many have felt for years, and now is the time to call on the provincial government to take action so that every member of the African diaspora has an equitable opportunity to succeed.

Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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