Systemic Issues of Racialized Youth in Toronto

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Nov 18, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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Systemic Issues

of Racialized Youth in Toronto


Introduction
: The Deindustrialization of Toronto in the 1990s

In the mid
-
19
90s an unprecedented number of Black
-
on
-
Black killings began to
e
merge in Toronto
due to the negative impact of deindustrialization
on the Black
working
-
class. Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris’s Common Sense
Revolution resulted in the implementation of neo
-
liberal economic policies in the
province in 1995. Elected in the p
rovince for two terms (1995
-
2001), Harris enacted hi
s
Common Sense Revolution (CSR): a

neo
-
liberal economic model implemented in
Ontario, inspir
ed by similar projects introduced

by conservative governments in England
and the U.S. during the same period. Inspired by the economic platforms of former
British
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. President Ronald Reagan

in the
1980s, the
CSR implemented significant tax reductions, reducing the role o
f the
government in the economy. The CSR also promoted
individual economic responsibility
in order to signifi
cantly reduce governmen
t spending on the welfare state,

and balance the
budget which was at a record $10 billion under the previous NDP government.(Reshef
and Rastin, 2003:27
-
28).

Under Harris, the deindustrialization of Toronto which began

in 1988
-
89

with

the
passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by the Conservative
Mulroney Government continued.
There was a massive loss in manufacturing jobs in the
city that

were normally held by

the racialized Canadians
, replaced by low
-
paying servic
e
sector jobs with little job security and no possibility of career advancement (Bania,
2009:101).


2

In Toronto, racialized youth are highly concentrated in post
-
industrial
neighborhoods in the inner city suburbs (i.e. Rexdale, Scarborough) with widespread
unemployment
.
The majority of

low
-
income
racialized youth reside in what the City of
Toronto designated as its 13
“priority neighborhoods”
; in other words
“high needs”
with
l
ow
-
income communities with

poor access to

services and frequent

gang and gun
viole
nce (Community Safety Secretariat, 2004).
Castel
(1995) argues that one’s status in
our neo
-
liberal post
-
industr
ial society is more based on their

location in the job market as
opposed

to the more traditional asp
ects of one’s identity such as their

family
heritage.
Meanwhile, as this cultural shift occurred, the nature of work itself has become
increasingly tra
nsformed from
permanent

full
-
time jobs to unstable

tem
porary
, part
-
time,
and

precarious work. Castel

(1995) notes three trends in the post
-
industrial economy
which are worth quoting at length:

1)

A destabilization of the professional
middle
-
class

that is a result of the difficulties in
obtaining full
-
time permanent salaried positions with benefits and long
-
term stability;

2)

The emergence of
peripheral
socially excluded groups ca
ught in a never
-
ending cycle of

temporary unstable part
-
time minimum wage jobs or welfare dependency
. This diverse
group ranges from youth to the e
l
derly along the life cycle of work an
d are either too old
or unskilled to be trained or young to retire. Or in the case of youth in this category, they
are too under or over
-
qualified for the work that is available to them.

3)

A deficit of
spots
in the social structure associated with social use
fulness and public
recognition (Bania, 2009:100
-
101).


According to Castel
, the

less educated and

most

unskilled youth in the urban cent
er
s o
f
our post
-
industrial economies

have been affected the most by the decline in
manufacturing industries and “good” w
orking
-
class jobs that were previously available in
modern western societies (i.e. secure unionized jobs)

(Ibid: 101)
. Consequently, the only
type of
employment availa
ble for low
-
income racialized
youth

in the post
-
industrial city
is

Mc Jobs
(Ritter and An
ker, 2002).

When the underemployment/

unemployment of
racialized youth
intersect

with other forms

of oppression, like

gender or y
outh

3

criminalization, some

develop a s
e
n
s
e of hopeless for their future

(Bania, 2009:
101
). I
n
Toronto, the

Harris government

had a devast
ating impact on un
-
skilled racialized

youth
who were economically di
splaced and became what Castel

(1995) refers to as “excess
baggage” adopting “day to day” survival strategies, which led to a sharp increase in
internal
violence

over the past

decade (Ibid)
.
Consequently, the rise in unemployment
during the mid
-
1990s recession meant that a large number of Black youth who would
have entered the working
-
class instead went into the illegal drug economy

(Harris,
2008:77
-
78).

Racialization of Povert
y

The racialization of poverty is the mass impoverishment and social exclusion
racialized communities experience inter
-
generationally. It is based on both historical and
contemporary forms of racial discrimination in the political economy, the state, and t
he
institutions of civil society.
When it comes to employment, r
acia
lized youth are
confronted with the challenge of obtain
ing decent

jobs

with a liveable wage

in a
Canadian labor market w
hich is premised on racially
exclusive and discriminatory
hiring
pr
actices

and an income earning gap between racialized and non
-
racialized workers
, not
to mention the significant earnings gap experienced by racialized women. The
racialization of poverty is the disproportionate vulnerability to poverty racialized
communiti
es experience in Canada (Block & Galabuzi, 2011:15)
.

Ryerson University
professor Grace
-
Edward Galabuzi contends the racialization of poverty is creating an
“economic apartheid” in Canada (
Colour of Poverty, 2008:1).




Because racialized youth live in low
-
income racialized communities they
experience a greater intensity of poverty than non
-
racialized youth from more privileged

4

backgrounds. In 1996 racialized group members accounted for 33% of the urban poor
while they were only 21.6% of the urban populatio
n
. That year, 36.8% of women and
35% of men in racialized communities were low
-
income earners, compared to 19.2% of
non
-
racialized women and 16% of non
-
racialized men. In 1998, the family poverty rate
for racialied groups was 19% compared to 10.45 for non
-
racialized Canadian families
(Galabuzi, 2005:18). In 1995, racialized groups experienced twice the poverty rate of
White Canadians in Canada’s urban centers, where 37.6% lived below the poverty,
compared to 20.9% for the rest of the population
b
etween 1980

and 2000 in Toronto,
racialized families experienced a 361% increase in poverty (Rodney, 2009:820).


The racial barriers to employment equity, high educational attainment, legal
equality, and affordable housing adversely impact the health and well
-
being o
f racialized
youth making them more vulnerable to living in poverty.
Racialized youth experience
significantly higher unemployment/underemployment, lower educational attainment,
significant over
-
representation in the criminal justice system, and
increased
likelihood of
being subjected to poor living conditions when compared to the socio
-
economic
conditions, educational attainment, and legal status of non
-
racialized youth.


Employment

It is not only low
-
income racialized youth who face various barriers to
meaningful
employment

but

the
majority of the

adult working population in the communities

where
they reside.

Racialized youth live in families where their parents/guardians who are more
likely to occupy low wage jobs than rest of the population.
In the Uni
ted Way of Greater
Toronto and Canadian Council on Social Development’s (2004) study of the racialization

5

of poverty from 1981
-
2001, they report only 87
-
90% are employed in “very high” and
“high” p
overty neighborhoods
, compared to 93% in the rest of Toront
o.
In the 1996
census the unemployment rate for Blacks in Toronto was 32%, twice as high as the
general population (Rodney, 2009:820).
Both racialized men and women are over
-
represented in precarious, low
-
paid jobs with few or no health benefits in the
adm
inistrative support, waste management, and remediation services sectors of the
economy (Block & Galabuzi, 2011:10).
According to the
Colour of Poverty

campaign

racialized workers

are overrepresented in

low
-
status jobs such

as

Sewing, Textile and
Fabric Ind
ustries (40%), Taxi and Limo Drivers (36%), and Electronics Assemblers
(42%). In Ontario, 38% of women of colour earn wages below the poverty line, and
Heritage Canada’
s 2003 Ethnic Diversity Survey

showed
33% of racialized workers and
51% of Black workers

experienced racial discrimina
tion (Colour of Poverty, 2007a).
In
their study of the socio
-
economic challenges young people face as they transition into
adulthood
, Beaujot and Kerr (2007) reveal the relative economic position of Canadian
men aged 16
-
29 yea
rs has declined over the past 20 years in terms of their rate of full
-
time employment and annual earnings.

Clearly, in the first decade of the 21
st

century the
social and economic exclusion of racialized youth in Toronto has worsened, thanks to the
growing

class inequality between high and low
-
income families (Heisz, 2005).


There is also an employment income gap between racialized and non
-
racialized
workers. For instance, racialized Canadians earn 81.4 cents for every dollar earned by
non
-
racialized Canadi
ans. Racialized women (55.6 cents) and racialized men (77.9 cents)
also earn much less on every dollar earned by non
-
racialized men (Block & Galabuzi,
2011:11). Clearly racialized youth live in families that are forced to work in a racialized

6

labour market

that decreases their chances of earning the same wages and salaries as the
majority of non
-
racialized working Canadians.


Education

The achievement gap between racialized and non
-
racialized students is caused the
by the discriminatory practices of teache
rs and administrators which leaders to a sense of
alienation in the primary and secondary school experience. Further racialized students
have few
racialized
teachers

they can look up to in the classroom,

and the absence

of

positive role models from raciali
zed communities, is an ongoing problem which persists
in their lives. In particular, African
-
Canadian students are disproportionately over
-
represented in basic non
-
academic level courses and special needs programs
. Research
suggests schools with the largest racialized student population also experience the highest
drop
-
out rates. And despite the reality many immigrants have higher levels of education
than Canadian
-
born
people,

African
-
Canadian, Indo
-
Pakistanis and
West Asian

students

have lower educational attainme
nt than non
-
racialized students (Colour of Poverty,
2007b).


Ontario educational policies like the “Safe Schools Act” and “Zero Tolerance”
policy were utilized by school administrators to adversely impact
the educational
attainment of racialized students in Toronto. These policies provided elementary and
secondary school principals with broad legal powers to suspend or expel any student they
perceived to be a threat to the safety of the student population.
Toronto District School
Board trustees who participated in expulsion hearings, reported at least 80% of students
who were expelled are racialized students.
A number of researchers, lawyers, community

7

groups, and parents have been highly critical of Safe Sc
hools and zero tolerance policies
because they disproportionately targeted racialized students to push them out o
f the
public educational system (Ibid).



Justice


In Toronto Police’s “War on Drugs” they target low
-
level street dealers in
racialized commun
ities with few economic resources or employment prospects. The War
on Drugs is a police tactic to increase their rate arrests and media

publicity to convince

the public they are doing their job. A study of 10,000 records in Toronto showed that
Whites were
far more likely than Blacks to be releas
ed at the scene of drug arrests; and
Blacks were twice as likely as Whites to be held overnight in jail for a bail hearing.
In a
recent sample of Toronto youth with no criminal records, more than 50% of Blacks were
s
earched by police in the previous two years
, compared to only 8% of Whites
(Colour of
Poverty, 2007c
).

Racialized youth are over
-
represented in the criminal justice system. African
-
Canadian students are 4 times more likely to be stopped by police and 8 tim
es more likely
to be searched than
White students in the same location
. In Ontario, Blacks are 10 times
more likely to be shot by police, and 5.5 times more likely to be killed or seriously
injured by police use of force. Due to the over
-
representation of
Black youth and adults in
Canadian prisons, they constitute 6% of the federal prison population while African
-
Canadians are only

2% of the Canadian population; and 14% of the federal prison
population in Ontario
, while they

are only 3.3% of the provincial
population

(Colour of
Poverty, 2007b)
.


8

Housing

Racialized youth who reside in low
-
income racialized communities in general,
and the 13 priority neighborhoods in particular, are more likely to be impacted by the
housing crisis in Toronto. Racialized youth i
n immigrant and refugee families in Ontario
are at a greater risk of homelessness due to the poverty, discriminatory practices of

landlord
s, cuts to newcomer support services, and the lack of housing support services.

In
Toronto in 2001, 43% of recent immi
grants suffered from ‘core housing needs’, in that
their housing was either was too costly, too over
-
crowded, or
in unsafe
substand
ard
condition in need of re
pairs.
Overall, racialized groups in Toronto experience

higher
levels of homelessness and poor hou
sing than non
-
racialized Canadians

(Colour of
Poverty, 2007d). In a recent study, nearly 80% of Toronto newcomers reported living in
poor housing conditions where the most common issues were: rats, roaches poor
ventilation, insufficient hot water, and over
crowding. When racialized youth experience
homelessness and poor, unsafe housing conditions it negatively affects their educational
attainment, employability, and mental health when compared to non
-
racialized youth who
reside in privileged

middle
-
class nei
ghborhoods (Ibid).















9

References


Bania, M. (2009, March). Gang violence among youth and young adults: (Dis) affiliation
and the potential prevention,
IPC Review 3
. Retrieved May 20, 2011 from

http://www.socialsciences.uottawa.ca/ipc/entg/documents/IPCR3Bania.pdf


Beaujot, R. & Kerr, D. (2007).
Emerging youth transition patterns in Canada:
Opportunities and risks.

Policy Research Initiatives.


Block, S. & Galabuzi, G. (2011, March). Canada’s Col
our Coded Labour Market; The
gap for racialized workers. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved June 4,
2011 from: www.policyalternatives.ca/.../canadas
-
colour
-
coded
-
labour
-
market


Castel, R. (1995)
Les metamorphoses de la question sociale.

Par
is: Librairie Artheme
Fayard.


Colour of Poverty. (2007
a
). Understanding the racialization of poverty in Ontario in
Employment in 2007, Factsheet #15.
Retrieved May 20, 2011 from:
www.colourofpoverty.ca


Colour of Poverty. (2007b). Understanding the racial
ization of poverty in Ontario in
Education and Learning in 2007, Factsheet #3. Retrieved May 20, 2011 from:
www.colourofpoverty.ca


Colour of Poverty. (2007c
). Understanding the racialization of poverty in Ontario in
Justice and

Policing in 2007, Factsheet #10
. Retrieved May 20, 2011 from:
www.colourofpoverty.ca


Colour of Poverty
. (2007d
). Understanding the racialization of poverty in Ontario in
Housing and Homelessness in 2007, Factsheet #9
. Retrieved May 20, 2011 from:
www.colourofpoverty.ca


Colour of Poverty (2008).
The Colour of Poverty


Colour of Change Network Working
to Address and Redress the Growing Racialization of Poverty in Ontario
. Retrieved June
4
, 2011

from: www.cnhe
-
iisc.ca/ColourofPovertyoutreach.pdf


Community Safety Secretariat. (2004).
Community Safety Plan
. Retrieved May 20, 2011
from: http://www.toronto.ca/community_safety_/index.htm.


Heisz, A. (2005
). Ten things to know about Canadian Metropolitan areas: A syn
thesis of
statistic Canadas trends and conditions in census Metropolitan areas series.

Analytical
Paper, Catalogue no. 89
-
613
-
MIE
-
No. 009. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.


Galabuzi, G.E. (2005).
The racialization of p
overty in Canada
: Implications of s
ection
15 Charter Protection.
2005


The Twentieth Anniversary Year of Section 15 of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Building a shared community
-
based anti
-

10

racism and anti
-
racialization agenda in Canada



where to next? The National Anti
-
Racis
m Council National Conference, Ottawa, November 10
-
13, 2005.


Ritter, J. and Anker, R. (2002). Good jobs, bad jobs: Workers’ evaluations in five
countries.
International Labour Review
, 141(4), 331
-
358.


Rodney, P., & Copeland, E. (2009). The health status
of black Canadians: Do aggregated
racial and ethnic variables hide health disparities?
Journal of Health Care for the Poor
and Underserved
, 20, 817
-
823.


United Way of Greater Toronto (UWGT), & Canadian Council on Social Development
(CCSD). (2004). Poverty

by postal code: The geography of neighborhood poverty, city of
Toronto, 1981
-
2001. Toronto: UWGT & CCSD.