Ghosts and Shadows: A History of Racism in Canada

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Yes, item is peer reviewed.
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Kihika, M. (2013). 'Ghosts and shadows: A history of racism in Canada.' Canadian Graduate Journal of Sociology and Criminology 2(1):35-44.

Date created: 
Black history in Canada
Systemic structures
Labour market segmentation
Racial discrimination

A history of racism reinforces discrimination and exploitation of racialized immigrants in general and African-Canadians in particular. My paper contends that historically institutionalized structures are the ideological fulcrum from which ongoing socio-economic inequalities derive and retain their legitimacy. Specifically, I argue that the historically institutionalized system of slavery and ensuing systemic structures of racial discrimination negatively influence the incorporation of racialized immigrants into the Canadian labour market. A historically racially segmented labour market continues to uphold colour coded social and economic hierarchies. Although Canada’s point system ensures that immigrants are primarily selected on the basis of their skills and qualifications, many professionally trained and experienced racialized immigrants endure perpetual socio-economic constraints, characterized primarily by low-end, precarious forms of employment.  While not intended to serve as an exhaustive chronology, this essay draws on three historical periods of Black migration and experience in Canada: the first spans early sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth-century, the second dates from the nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, and the third extends from mid-twentieth century to the present. The following historical timeline traces the prevalence and enduring nature of systemic structures and substantiates Abigail Bakan’s (2008) suggestion that both “racism and a culture of hegemonic whiteness were and remain endemic to the Canadian state” (p. 6).

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