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Book Reviews Review: Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives traces history of black life in Canada

Title
Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
Author
Robyn Maynard
Genre
Non-fiction
Publisher
Fernwood Publishing
Pages
244
Price
$25

Canadians too often point to Canada's differences from the United States to avoid looking at ourselves. It's true, for example, that Canadian climates could not support plantation slavery as in the U.S. South, but this fact cannot erase 200 years of slavery in pre-Confederation Canada.

In Policing Black Lives, Robyn Maynard traces the history of black life in Canada through the ways present-day functions of the state – from education to social assistance to migration – reproduce slavery's surveillance, enforcement, incarceration and overall devaluation of black lives. It is a heavily researched book, giving a strong sense of the depth of Canadian black scholarship it draws upon and providing ample references for further reading.

Two strengths elevate the book as a whole. The first is Maynard's attention to gender oppression, particularly the ways misogynoir affects trans women. Second is the way she highlights points of solidarity between black and Indigenous peoples. Policing Black Lives is in part a work of history, but one that points to a possible liberated future.

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