The experiences of Black women and non-binary people with police violence and surveillance are poorly represented within Canadian academic and public discourse. Because Black women are less frequently stopped and questioned by the police than their male counterparts and more likely to report such encounters, there is a false public perception that Black women are somehow protected from the worst effects of institutionalized racism and violence. The erasure of Black women and non-binary people’s experiences from public debate about race and policing has well-documented deleterious outcomes in their material lives across all socio-political junctures (Abdillahi, 2021; Angehrn, Fletcher, & Carleton, 2021; Bundy, 2019; Maynard, 2017; Ritchie & Jones-Brown, 2017; Walcott & Abdillahi, 2019).
Today, Black women are among one of the fastest-growing federal prison populations in Canada (Office of the Correctional Investigator, 2014), more frequently have their children apprehended by state welfare workers in Ontario (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2018), and experience lower median annual wages (Houle, 2020), all of which create additional points of contact with public institutions, new forms of surveillance, as well as ongoing economic and social marginalization. Moreover, with the recent death of a 29-year old Black woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet (Westoll & Rocca, 2020), at the hands of Toronto police immediately following the more well-known death of George Floyd in May 2020, there is an urgent interest in understanding how systemic anti-Black racism permeates Canada’s legal institutions—particularly those that regulate the lives of Black women and non-binary people (Jean-Pierre & James, 2020; Knight, Ferguson, & Reece, 2021; Lawson, 2020). This concern is reflected in recent federal and provincial investments to improve the overall social and political wellbeing of Black people in Canada (Walcott & Abdilahhi, 2019).
This five-part monthly speaker series from September 2022 to January 2023 brings together researchers, artists, front-line practitioners, and community members for the purposes of knowledge exchange and dissemination. The forum will advance a more interdisciplinary, community-oriented, and historically-grounded understanding of Black women and non-binary people’s experiences with policing and other institutions that function to both surveil and control their lives. In particular, the series places emphasis on histories of policing and surveillance, technologies of surveillance in healthcare and public policy, and responses from Deaf, disabled, mad, queer, and trans Black people. In addition, the series will bring forth and reveal the ways in which these systems of control are exerted in the everyday realities of public life. Through this series, we will generate a more critical understanding of the anti-Black gendered impacts of police and institutional surveillance and practice as well as pathways to short-term and systemic change.