Date of Award


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Religious Studies


G.H. Crowell




The thesis presented here is that racism in Canada involves a negative evaluation and unjust treatment of Blacks which, although less severe than in some parts of the world is functionally persistent and pervas1ve because Whites deny their racism, do not effectively recognize the presence of black people as a significant social group and do not have to face up to the effects of their own covert and diffuse acts of discrimination against the powerless black population, who, as a result have become alienated, anonymous, demoralized and constrained to disdajn their own blackness. The denial of racism, the non-recognition of Blacks and the weakness of the black community combine to give Canadian Black/White relationships their distinctive character. Empirical data is presented which establishes that Blacks in Canada have been socio-economically deprived in every aspect of societal life, historically and by present social structures and arrangements and have been powerless to change the situation. Despite Canada's official policy of fair treatment for all and despite the fact that prohibitive legislation against discrimination has been in force since the 1950's, the relative immobility of Blacks has not changed. Their socio-economic destiny lies to a significant degree vith the decision makers and power holders in the major society. It js clearly established in this presentation that white racism in Canada has a distinctive character. It is the combination of traits Which our thesis includes: the denial of racism, the concomitant non-recognition of Blacks as a significant social entity who are entitled to all the rights and privileges of society, including those which cannot be guaranteed by law, such as access to the informal vehicles to upward mobility. What most Canadian White8 fail to perceive is that the socialization and the structures of society pred1spo8e them to discriminate on the basis of race. Moreover, the. informed, intelligent Canadian cannot discriminate overtly because such acts are rejected by the society, being inconsistent. With the denial of the society's racist aspects. Therefore the white power holder and decision maker must legitimize his interracial acts, whether his acts are favourable to Blacks or affect them adversely. The powerful, pervasive impact of white racism on Canadian Blacks gives Canadian racism its other distinctive characteristic. Blacks cannot deny or ignore the racism of the society; it is an insidious reality which they are powerless to change but which they must attempt to find ways to handle. Several of these responses are cited and discussed. Finally it is indicated that because society, not its powerless black members has the power to change the situation, positive affirmative action is needed and society has a moral responsibility to take such action. This thesis has further implications 1Nhich can be applied to the treatment of any powerless group in any society.

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