Editorial: Tackling racism

I once heard an expert compare racism in Canada to punching a marhsmallow. The point was that racism in Canada is not hard-edged but soft and hard to grab, as well as tricky to pin down. It’s stuck with me for more than a decade. A report by a Law Society of Upper Canada committee on challenges faced by racialized licensees speaks definitive truth to power.

“The qualitative and quantitative data the Working Group obtained from the engagement process identified widespread barriers experienced by racialized licensees within the legal professions at all stages of their careers,” the report says.

Its recommendations are being heralded as a good first step — an assessment I think is correct. In my opinion, the most powerful recommendations speak to gathering and sharing data, like the proposal that the LSUC require each legal workplace with 10 licensees or more to do an equality, diversity and inclusion self-assessment to give to the LSUC.

Lawyers, we know, hold special positions of trust and power in society. Raj Anand, a co-chairman of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group, says, “The independent research that we did, as well as our consideration as a working group, basically confirmed the anecdotal evidence that we all knew about.” Data gives teeth to anecdotal experience, and it provides a strong platform to pursue change.

I believe power (and systemic change) is not given freely, but it can be achieved when people fight for it.
This fight has already been underway for years, and it continues.

Any tool that can be used to illustrate and attack such a sweeping problem can be a powerful tool, for licensees and allies alike.

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