While the debate around carding was at its peak earlier this summer, photojournalist Chris Young spoke with members of Toronto’s black community about the police practice. Opponents of carding say it unfairly targets racial minorities, that it amounts to racial profiling.
“I wanted to hear from the people who were affected by the practice of carding, to open up a narrative without politicking or rhetoric,” says Mr. Young. He asked them: Tell us how racial profiling has affected you.
Dewitt Lee, Two-time mayoral candidate and founder of the Toronto Community Advisory Board
As an Afro-Caribbean, it has affected me tremendously. And not just in dealing with police, and not just dealing with white people. You know, this thing, racial profiling, as a man of colour, follows me when I'm applying for a job; follows me when I am applying for a rental agreement; follows me when I'm looking to hire people. So, at the end of the day, racial profiling does not consist just in the realm of police services but follows you everywhere you go.
Frank Forde, Barber
I try to push it under the carpet, some of the years, the things I went through, but now you hear more about it in the barbershop. I'm listening to people, I'm hearing, “It's getting worse, it's getting worse.” Not only in Canada, but a country like Canada can do a lot more to be a leader in the world if they're really going to be what they're showing, that “everybody can live free as one.” The culture is what we have to respect. We have different cultures, different behaviors. The kids don't see the prejudices – we magnify them as we get older.
Kirk Meikle, Barber
I’ve been singled out coming through the customs, and I know it’s because of the colour of my skin. I’ve been singled out on the Go train. There were several white folks sitting in the same car, and they were passed, and [there were] about four black people, including myself, and the inspectors came and checked us. You know, so these are just some of the experiences I have had.
Lascelles Small, Activist, Photographer
Racial profiling has affected me in a manner in which there are no words, no adjectives to describe it. It’s demoralizing, it’s poisonous, it’s destructive. Because as a black person it’s like you just throw your hands up and says, “What do I do.” Carding is supposed to be different than profiling, but profiling and carding, they got married and the marriage is still going on. And so I find that very, very intolerable that at the present time somebody is saying that carding is an investigative tool.
I work with a lot of young black men that have been stopped that when you listen to their stories, you say, “Hold on a second, but you didn't do anything wrong. Nothing happened. Why were you singled out? Is it because you were walking while being black? Were you walking with a hoodie? What was the circumstances?” And, it does not give them a chance to be human. Like, they walk the streets feeling guilty because they're black. And that's how racial profiling affects me. Because I have to work with the people that pay the price for this confrontation with the police.
[Racial profiling] just makes me—it gives a great cloud on the future for me and my future family. Sometimes it makes me a little scared to think of having children in this kind of age right now, where he could very well be profiled himself starting from a young age.
Michael Parris, Barber
If I go in the subway or the bus, and there are seats available, and a white person would come in and if I'm at the end of the seat I would move around, move that he can sit, and he wouldn't even sit down. That's how deep it is. And I still say that all other races seem to shun the black race.
Quaashie ‘Q’ Wright-Massey
As a minority there is a duality you have to carry. There’s a way you can carry yourself amongst your friends and your peers, and there’s a way you have to carry yourself in front of a police officer or a politician. Which is, realistically, you should be able to be yourself in front of these people.
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