submitted by Zara Zrudlo
In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about discrimination and working towards equity. Equity is a very intangible word, it can mean different things to everyone. Some examples of equity might be: everyone receiving a good education, home, job, food, and opportunities, no one being discriminated against, or no one being rich or poor. These things would be amazing, but reaching them isn’t just as simple as having a certain leader in the government or signing petitions.
These things certainly help, but discrimination goes deeper than just how rules and policies are set up. The way the system is set up gives advantages to certain groups. A good example of this is the incarceration rates. Indigenous Peoples in Canada make up 2.7% of the population; however, they make up 32% of the prison population, and 50% percent of the population in female prisons. Black people make up 3.5% of the population in Canada; however, they make up 9.2% percent of the prison population.
Incarceration rates aren’t the only problem within the justice system either, police brutality within Canada and the US has been steadily increasing. Last year in Canada, the police shot 87 Black people, 46 fatally. That’s almost a person every day for a quarter of the year.
The reason for such over representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) people in prison and brutality is simply that the justice systems and many police forces haven’t been checked for biases or given enough knowledge about the effects systemic racism can have. Racism can be caused, generally, by under education: If people grew up hearing racist slurs and being fed racist misinformation, then they won’t know any better. A lot of people might not know that BIPOC cultures are rich and vibrant, and cannot, and should not be looked down upon.
However, that doesn’t excuse the horrible things that have happened, and are happening. Schools should teach about the Black Lives Matter movement, about the real history of Colonization, about LGBTQ2SIA+ rights, and how to recognize biases and stereotypes. If they did, then people would learn from a young age that discrimination is hurtful and inappropriate, and the things that people discriminate against are untrue.
The system seems to have been set up for marginalized people to fail and face discrimination, partly because people in charge don’t always know how harmful the system can be, although in some instances, the policy makers have done it with mal intent. For example, there is actual science showing that the brains of trans people (people whose bodies and gender assigned at birth doesn’t match their actual gender) aren’t the same as other people sharing their gender assigned at birth. It has many aspects that match the gender they identify with.
Even if the system is set up for us to fail, it cannot stop the spread of knowledge, it cannot stop people from being who they truly are. Every person who learns, who fights back, even just by refusing to accept the way history has been rewritten in the past, over and over and over, is another step closer to changing the system and another step closer to equity.
Zara Zrudlo is a homeschooled, fourteen year old resident of Kemtpville. They love writing, art, acting, reading and anything to do with music. Ever since they were little they’ve cared a lot about activism and social justice, and hoped to make a difference in the world. Zara has written two and a half novels, and ran a newspaper for their friends and family for three years. They love hanging out with their dogs and chickens and spending time imagining having dinner with various book characters.