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lecture #14.docx

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1910
Kerry Taylor

01/25/12 LECTURE #14: Addressing Racism: Canadian Challenges How has law dealt with racism? **last 10-15 years that we see legal change around the idea of legal race** CASES:  WING – challenged the white women’s labour law  When it reached the supreme court of Canada it said that yes it discriminates but yes we also think that it’s okay  Mr. Wing lost his case  1914-1924: Saskatchewan took out the words Japanese and oriental persons from the act  They de-racialized the act  The result was that the law appeared to be neutral  What they expected was that discrimination was still going to continue in practice even though it was no longer in the legislation  1924- CLUN: this was about a restaurant owner in Regina who brought an application to get a license to employ white women  At the time the Chinese exclusion act was in effect  This created a shortage of now white labour  The application was refused by the city council  He took his case to court and won …this court decision was seen ad truly offensive to the legislature of Saskatchewan  The legislation was changed again so that the license the court had ordered for mr.clun could be revoked  PHILLIPS: case looks like there was an unruly group of men who took a women from her home… what really happened was that the unruly mob was kkk  They abducted a white woman who was in the same house as a coloured man  When the woman was out of the house they lit a cross on fire outside the house and threatened the man  But the police and court only focused attention on the abduction of the woman not the threats made to the non white man  They ignored the fact that this was kkk so they wouldn’t have to deal with the issue that this one was from race  Late 1930’s CHRISTIE: he was a chauffeur who was denied service in a Montreal bar  He sued for damages and initially won but it was appealed and eventually overturned in the court of “kings bench”  This case went to the supreme court of Canada …they maintained segregation  After this case there were a number of cases that followed this result – segregation was acceptable  1940’s Viola Desmond- she was escorted outside the theatre and held in custody  She was charged with tax evasion  The court de-racialized the issue and charged her in a way that the segregation law could not be challenged  Made sure the charges could not open a discussion of racism  1955- NARINE-SINGH: about a challenge to an order of deportation on the basis of colour  They were British citizens so were permitted entry to Canada  Canadian government wanted to employ the white Canada deportation policy  They lost the case in the supreme court and were deported  Up to late 1990’s we see a refusal to see, think, talk, deal with racism  The problem was that we need to ensure that when racism plays a role in the legal aspect we need to make sure it is worthy of legal attention  Law is supposed to work in an unbiased way  Facts are socially constructed  PARKS- 1993: a black man was accused of murdering a white person and there was a jury trial  The defense made the argument that they should be able to challenge the perspective jurors for cause…they wanted to be able to question people who might be on the jury to find out what their racial biased may or may not be  Following this case it became possible to question potential jury members to see where they stood where race was concerned  WILLIAM 1997- aboriginal accused of robbing a white person  The court allowed a challenge for cause it believe that the potential jurors might be prejudice  At this point they were realizing that prejudice to minority groups exist  These changes came about from academic studies that said in racialized crimes there was a higher conviction rate – the ideas and stereotypes impacted jurors assessment  R.D.S (sparks case) 1997- initially heard by a black judge who identified and recognized racial profiling before we started talking about it in Canada  This judge was in Nova Scotia and said that a white police officer in nova scotia may have over reacted when dealing with two black men  The judge said the police may have overset their boundaries when dealing with these two young people  It made it to the supreme court; the crown argued that the black judge was biased  In the supreme court the decision was 5:4 and the majority said that the black judge had put the case in context  There was also a strong dissent came from white people in the court…they said that the trial judge was biased because she was black  BROWN (basketball player): was pulled over for driving over the speed limit  Initially convicted and appealed the conviction on the basis that he was racially profiled  “Driving while black” that’s why he was pulled over and won this case on appeal  Racial profiling was identified by the judge …the judge was white  AHMED 2009: charge for possession of drugs in Toronto  Charges were dismissed because the judge, a white woman, said the police lied about their reasons for pulling them over  Based on the facts of the case she said there was every reason to believe he was detained because of his race  There has been this gradual attempt to recognize that race is a factor in most of these cases  Race has become part of the facts of the case  We need a theory to analyze racism in the entire legal system  We want to understand what laws role has been in maintaining and perpetuating the racialized hierarchy.  Law is not neutral, it Is a gendered and racialized institution  Judging everyone’s behaviour based on comparing people the idea of a reasonable man who is white  This idea is the founding of our legal system  This is where we have developed norms and out standards of how people should behave  These come from looking at the world through one particular lens  Ex. when someone responds to a racial slur and you go buck  If a judge looking at this situation has never experienced this racial slur, it will be outside the judges range of reference when thinking about whether or not that action was provoked  What informs a judge is their life experience  Often if they haven’t experienced something it is hard to imagine how it can be relevant to someone else  Maybe the legal system is inclined to de-racialize certain situation because it doesn’t understand them  “Law is the power to shape reality in accordance with ones values. It’s the power to give voice to or to silence the diversity of others. Law is the power to re-write history. Law is the power to develop legislation that meets the socio-economic imperatives of the majority”  Regardless of changes in law there are still very powerful threads of racism running through our legal system  Law can be good and bad at the same time  This might be the reason visible minorities haven’t overtly used legal strategies … ADDRSSING RACISM  Competitive racism exists when there are jobs and rates of pay…  The idea that jobs, resources, education belongs to “real” Canadians
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