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Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,414 ratings  ·  213 reviews

Delving behind Canada’s veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. Robyn Maynard provides readers with the first comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canad

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Fernwood Publishing
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Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recs, 2020
a collection of sharp essays on the fraught relationship between the Canadian state, policing, and Black lives. the first couple of essays overview the history of how Canada has monitored, controlled, and punished Black people from the time of slavery to the present, and then the work shifts to examining how the state’s surveilled Black communities since the start of the neoliberal era, with chapters focused on child welfare, immigration, mass incarceration, and more. Maynard connects when possi ...more
Kara Babcock
Policing Black Lives took me almost an entire month to read, which is virtually unheard of, and it’s not a very long book. It is, however, very dense, academic, and not at all happy reading. Nevertheless, it is an important book. I first heard about it, and from Robyn Maynard, on an episode of the Canadaland Commons podcast devoted to the gaps in Canada’s curriculum on the history of slavery and anti-Blackness. Since I grew up with the Canadian education system, this is definitely something that ...more
A dense, thorough history of state-sanctioned anti-Black racism in Canada, covering slavery, segregation, policing, education, poverty, immigration, education, and the child welfare system over the course of hundreds of years.

Maynard pays particular attention to intersectional identities, using examples and detailing how anti-Black racism interacts with sexism, ableism, homophobia, and more. She also frequently notes the links between anti-Black racism and colonialism.

I can't imagine the kind o
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This book should be required reading for Canadians. I was quite angry as I read it. Why was I angry? There was so much in here that I did not know. I was not aware that we had slavery in Canada for 200 years, or that the Canadian government actively discouraged Blacks from immigrating by telling them they couldn't survive in this climate. This book is full of gems and you will learn so much by reading it. I urge you to read it, because the facts in here will blow your mind and make you angry at ...more
Robyn Maynard researched extensively and includes notes, numerous references and an index at the back of her book, POLICING BLACK LIVES:State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present.
I read this book slowly as it contains so much information that was unknown to me.

While there are numerous important quotes in this book, I have chosen to share the following ones.

"The high rate of poverty in Black communities stems largely from structural racism, and a full two-thirds of Black children in
Ashley Daviau
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t even know where to start with this book. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting to think that the country I live in could be so racist. I also feel terribly uneducated, I had no idea how badly Black people were treated by Canada. But it is my responsibility as a Canadian to know and to educate myself about my country and to fight against such terrible injustices being inflicted. After reading this book, I vow to do better and fight racial injustice in my country in every way that I can. It is ...more
Morgan Dhu
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading a fair bit lately about race and antiracist theory, but most of what I’ve been reading has been written in an American context, though of course much is broadly applicable to the situation in Canada, too. Much of the Canadian material I have been able to access has focused on indigenous issues. So I was particularly happy to learn of the publication of Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present.

Maynard is a Black feminist write
Simon-pierre Gagnon
Some books should be read by everyone. This is is one of them.
Guillaume Morissette
Read this excellent, well-researched book & then scream into a pillow.
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i absolutely recommend reading this book
Kara Passey
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
really glad I read this. I would say I think every Canadian should read this, but honestly the language was fairly academic at times and I’m grateful I was listening to it rather than reading bc I think that made it easier for me to digest. but idk how accessible this would be for someone without an academic background or like an understanding of gender, race, and sexuality terminology. but maybe I’m being a snob who can say. so anyways I guess I should say I think every Canadian should learn th ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoroughly researched, well-structured and expansive look at how the Canadian state oppresses Black people. A bit tough to read at times because of the academic writing style and overwhelming statistics, but absolutely worth the effort. Highly recommended.
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a uniquely Canadian look at anti-black racism, salvery, segration, policing, education, poverty, immigration, mass incarceration, and child welfare in this country. The writing is very academic and well researched which results in a dense but important read.
Really well researched and argued. All chapters are well constructed and contribute to drive the main point of the author. After reading, I can say I have a deeper understanding of institutional and systemic racism in Canada. The text is fairly easy to follow and should be accessible for someone who doesn't have a strong background in racial/discrimination studies; it makes for a good introduction to the field. ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 A comprehensive dissection of anti-Black racism across history, in Canada, and across all borders. If repetitious it's as a direct reflection of unrelenting anti-Black demonisation, surveillance, containment, and violence in all our societal structures. Policing Black Lives is intersectional, potently researched, and crystal clear. ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be required reading for all Canadians!!! It was completely eye-opening on the systemic racism and injustices faced in Canada by Black people.
My Rating: 4 stars

Policing Black Lives goes over extremely important topics such as police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and countless other inequalities that Black Canadians face every day that many Canadians have no idea about and just think that these things are "American problems".

My Breakdown:

- Although this took me almost a month to read, which is super long by my standards, it is not because this is a long book. This book is dense with information and not a happy read wh
Sophie Anna
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very informative read that includes a wide variety of data pertaining to the history of and current policing of black people in Canada. I was particularly horrified by some of the details and statistics in the chapter on immigration and detainment centres, especially with how Canada handles deportation to Somalia.

That being said, as other reviewers have indicated, this is a very dense read. It reads much more like a textbook than some of the other books I have read on the subject, which were
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for everyone who lives in Canada.

The first chunk of it is basic Canadian history about slavery, which is not taught in our schools. We teach the Underground Railroad and that's about it. The book goes on to discuss current Canadian policy, and I learned a lot. It laid things out really well to explain how we as a country got to where we are.

It's meticulously researched, but not boring to read. While it's primarily looking at anti-Black racism, it also addres
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is incredibly powerful and important. Canada would be a much better place if everyone read and reflected on this text. Truly, a book I’ll never forget.
Rachel Reid
Every Canadian should read this.
Jonathan Nash
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In what feels like the distant past now—last summer—I was keen on writing smaller pieces for a budding tea company in Calgary, Alberta called Sarjesa: loose leaf tea. This inspirational company is operated by a good friend of mine from undergrad who shares a similar love for books, knowledge, and social justice. Most importantly, Sarjesa is committed to “working with Elders and community members” in creating locally sourced tea blends and donating proceeds to support local marginalized communiti ...more
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very important one for me to read. Not only was it thorough and inclusive in naming the many racist issues with policing in Canada, it also unflinchingly named the white supremacist past and present in Canada that Canadians love to pretend “isn’t that bad”. From Canadian slavery, to lynchings, to policing targeting, to abusive immigration practises, Canada isn’t better than anyone else! Which I knew rationally, but I was missing a lot of the cold hard facts. Every time Edmonton was me ...more
Clare Hutchinson
A spectacularly well-written, thorough exploration of anti-black state violence and racism in Canada throughout history and the ongoing effects, legacies and systems that continue that violence in the present day. Academic language, to be sure, but still approachable. Should be required reading for non-Black Canadians; I could see very clearly in it the framework of the lies and convenient stories that were a part of my educations both formal and social. There is so much more work to be done.
Matthew Davidson
Some people might be "put off" by the "academic" tone of this book. Personally, I feel that it was the perfect approach. A more "emotional" tone could possibly lend the topic less credibility.

By not making emotional statements, and by constantly citing academic references and sources to the many examples the author gives of institutionalized racism, Ms. Maynard, over the course of the book, creates an incontrovertible argument that the racist actions of government(s) in Canada have continued fr
Elizabeth Turnbull
This should be required reading for all Canadians. We are far too comfortable in our ignorance of our country’s history and present of systemic racism.

Candice Pye
If you ever wanted a book with an answer to nearly every question regarding anti-Black racism in Canada, this is it. A deep dive into history, a comprehensive look at the present day, and a guiding light for the future all at once, this book addresses Black struggle and resistance from an intersectional feminist perspective. In all honesty, I didn't love that it read more like a textbook than an average "leisure" read, but it is totally something I wish had been assigned reading during my time a ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The research! The breadth of issues! The citations! This book is full of depressing information but it's necessary to read and be aware of the role anti black racism and slavery had in forming settler countries in north America and how it continues today in institutions such as police, prisons, schools, government, immigration policies, sexism, etc. Robyn Maynard made a wonderful resource that everyone should read. ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for every white person in Canada.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for anyone who thinks it's ok because we're not the U.S. - I'll lend you my copy. ...more
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When author Amor Towles published his second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, in 2016, everything changed.   Towles’ first novel, Rules of...
32 likes · 4 comments
“Not only is state violence rarely prosecuted as criminal, it is not commonly perceived as violence. Because the state is granted the moral and legal authority over those who fall under its jurisdiction, it is granted a monopoly over the use of violence in society, so the use of violence is generally seen as legitimate.” 2 likes
“slavery never took the form of the large-scale plantations found in the American South, the Caribbean or South America. Plantations, though their establishment was desired by some colonists, were found to be incompatible with Canada’s climate and short growing season (Mackey 2010). As a result, the number of enslaved people in Canada was always lower, and the economy less reliant on slave labour than other parts of the Americas and the Caribbean. These distinctions have underpinned the assumption in some existing scholarship that enslavement in Canada was relatively benign. Yet, the absence of slave plantation economies does not negate the brutality of the centuries-long, state-supported practice of slavery. White individuals and white settler society profited from owning unfree Black (and Indigenous) people and their labour for hundreds of years while exposing them to physical and psychological brutality, and the inferiority ascribed to Blackness in this era would affect the treatment of Black persons living in Canada for centuries to come.” 2 likes
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