Anti-racism campaigner Husoni Raymond is questioning why a Mount Allison University professor used him as an example to support her argument that racism doesn’t exist in New Brunswick.
“NB is NOT racist,” Psychology Professor Rima Azar wrote in an online blog post on June 15, 2020.
“Canada is NOT racist. We do NOT have ‘systemic’ racism or ‘systemic’ discrimination,” she added.
In her blog post, Azar asked why St. Thomas University would honour him with a trophy for strong leadership, “if NB is as racist as you are claiming.”
“Her argument is a bit ridiculous in the sense that one black person winning an award does not mean that there’s no racism,” Raymond said in a telephone interview.
“One of the reasons why I won that award was because of my advocacy against racism within the institution and within society more broadly,” he added. “I just don’t get the connection.”
Mt. Allison announced on Monday that it has launched an internal review after receiving complaints about posts on Azar’s blog “related to systemic racism, sexual violence, gender and colonization.”
Raymond, who is now the anti-racism co-ordinator at the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, says an online survey the Council conducted in November shows there’s a wide belief that there is racism here even though some people in authority “are unwilling to recognize how deep-rooted racism is within our society.”
He says that links to the 30-question survey were distributed via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and included in mainstream media reports.
Raymond acknowledges that the people who chose to complete it may have been especially interested in anti-racism efforts.
“However, we did get a large amount of people, over 900 responses from all across the province, various ethnicities, different age groups, different immigration status, so we think it does cover a broad demographic of people.”
According to the Multicultural Council, 95% of those who filled out the survey believed that there is racism in New Brunswick with 83.6% reporting that they had witnessed it firsthand.
Raymond points out that 71% of respondents believed there is systemic racism in New Brunswick which the survey defined as institutional policies and practices that result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups.
He said, for example, that racialized people are over-represented in the criminal justice system and earn less than other Canadians.
“Employers are about 40% more likely to interview a job applicant with an English-sounding name despite identical education, skills and experience,” he added.
Raymond says that as a black person himself, he has experienced racism in a wide variety of ways.
“A simple example is that a few months ago, I got my wisdom teeth extracted,” he said, adding that when he took his dentist’s prescription for pain killers to the pharmacist, he was told to take less of the drug because he was black.
“I was drowsy from the operation, so I did what she said, but throughout the night I was feeling pain so the next day, I decided to do some research,” he said, but added that he could not find any information to support the notion that black people are more sensitive to pain killers.
“What I did discover, though, was that black people, often in health-care contexts, are undiagnosed for pain or given less pain medication because they are seen as being more resilient or tolerant to pain,” he said.
“That’s a narrative that stems straight from slavery that is still within the health-care sector that leaves racialized people vulnerable.”
Bruce Wark worked in broadcasting and journalism education for more than 35 years. He was at CBC Radio for nearly 20 years as senior editor of network programs such as The World at Six and World Report. He currently writes for The New Wark Times where this story first appeared on Feb. 24, 2021.