Not so subtle racism…

Oct 7, 2019 

Policy Options – Pamela Palmeter
Justin Trudeau’s use of blackface shows racism isn’t just institutional, but also individual. Human beings have perpetuated anti-Indigenous racism.

Here is a worthy reflection on the problem of racism in Canada, walking through the blackface incident, the history of federal government legislation embedding racist principles, the application of the principles in social services and through the justice system, racism as individually practiced, in short a reminder that ours is not always a proud history and that the struggles to heal are still wanting.  Required reading for elections…   Related article: Radio Canada International – Levon Sevunts   Names of Indigenous children who died in residential schools released

Centre for International Governance – Eva Salinas

Five Questions with Retired Lt.-Gen Roméo Dallaire

Canada’s well respected and former UN commander in the Rwanda in 1994 was awarded the 2019 Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship and given the opportunity to answer some questions on the subject of international citizenship and the changing perspectives of internationalism among young people in Canada.  The citation read in part:  “The life and career of… Dallaire is an urgently needed reminder of the very real consequences of inaction in the face of growing divisions in Canada and around the world.”

World Economic Forum – Martin Burt
What if nearly everything we thought we knew about poverty was wrong?

Burt is the author of a recently published book called Who Owns Poverty?  The thesis of the book is that we have long attempted to solve poverty through experts and civil servants amassing considerable data that describe various elements of poverty, done analysis, and then attempted to respond to conclusions.  What if all that approach is wrong because we do not understand what we mean by poverty and we do not ask who owns poverty?  Who can best solve poverty when poverty is recognized as multi-dimensional?

Forbes Magazine (US) – Morgan Simon
GEO Group Runs Out of Banks as 100% of Banking Partners Say ‘No’ to the Private Prison Sector

The headline is a remarkable achievement.  Adverse publicity has resulted in one of the private prisons running out of potential banking partners.  The banks – JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC – have committed to ending their relationship with GEO Group, one of the larger of the private prison groups, and a second large entity Core Civic, who will see an end to $2, 5 billion in lines of credit and loans for operations.  Grass-root activists are delighted to see the stock return down by 30%.  Core Civic still has access to five or so banks but Core Civic are downgraded from stable to a negative status by a rating agency.  The future of these two companies is not clear at this point.   Related article: Aljazeera News – Cristina Maza   Prison systems in the US and Israel have something in common – Activists say private companies are profiting from the incarceration of racially profiled groups in the US and Israel.   

Criminal Justice Initiatives – (K-W) – Mackenzie Leclaire
Reflecting on Language through a Restorative Lens

The author invites a timely reflection on the use of words and how words matter.  The state of political rhetoric today reminds us how language can be used to enflame discourse and obscure resolution of tensions.  “The ethos of restorative justice is providing an environment where we hope people can find healing and empowerment while feeling safe and understood. Something as simple as changing our discourse about people who have offended can contribute to this culture of instilling hope for people who are often seen as unchangeable and disposable. Reminding ourselves that those who have offended are people is a step in a restorative direction.”

CNN (Philippines) – Jessie Yeung
More than 5,000 inmates die at this prison every year

This link is a frightening indictment of inhumanity in the name of some sort of perverted justice.  The photos and descriptions of the conditions in this prison gnaw at the extent of the indifference to human dignity.  “About 5,200 inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) die annually due to overcrowding, disease and violence, according to hospital medical chief Ernesto Tamayo.”  About one in five inmates in the five national prisons die annually.  Besides the deaths, the prisons are plagued with drugs and widespread corruption.   Related article: CNN – (US) – Judith Resnick   Degrading strip search of 200 women prisoners cries out for courts to act   Related article: San Francisco Chronicle (US) – Jason Fagone and Megan Cassidy   Suicides in California prisons rise despite decades of demands for reform  

VERA Institute of Justice (US) – Jamila Hodge
Governors Should Embrace—Not Hinder—Reform-Minded Prosecutors

How should conflict between state and city prosecutors be resolved?  The city of Baltimore has been the focus of considerable controversy around policing, crime and crime policy.  Maryland wants to “supersede” the city attorney and prosecute more vigorously violent crime.  Local opinion seems to be with the city State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby.  The critics are insisting that the state Attorney General and the Governor are doing nothing the resolve the high crime incidents.  The state’s override is mirrored in Florida and Massachusetts as well.  Is this part of state level push back on criminal justice reform by progressives in the cities?

Miami Herald – Romy Ellenbogen
Bootleg film shows Florida prison in all its danger, squalor. An inmate shot it on the sly

The omni-present camera has asserted itself in a secretly produced video in one of the most violent prisons in Florida.  Martin Correctional Institution inmate Scott Whitney produced and later smuggled the documentary out to the Miami Herald.  “Whitney filmed men brawling or ready to swing locks at each other, inmates passed out on synthetic drugs, mold covering the walls of the kitchen like a coat of dark paint, easily accessible drugs smoked in plain view, makeshift knives traded for a few dollars’ worth of food and other scenes from daily life in a Florida prison.”  Cell phones are increasingly common inside Florida Department of Corrections facilities, despite their ban and a felony; last year alone Corrections found over 9,000 devices.  Whitney appears to be in solitary since the Herald published the documentary.

CBC News – Adam Miller
Why the opioid crisis isn’t a bigger federal election issue – 12,800 Canadians have died as a result of the opioid crisis since 2016, Health Canada says

Given the high rate of deaths from the abuse of opioids in Canada, and the constant news articles about the incidents, the efforts to control the opioids, the efforts to respond with emergency services, the threat to emergency personnel, schools and neighbourhoods, the why question deserves some light.  “Health officials, harm reduction advocates, policy experts, and drug users have called on the next federal government to take stronger measures to tackle the crisis, such as decriminalizing illegal drugs, declaring a national public health emergency, ensuring a safe opioid supply for users, and expanding supervised injection sites.”