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Let’s Talk About….. Carding

By Angel Sumka
Disclaimer: I am white, cisgender, pansexual but heterosexual presenting.  This comes with a slew of privilege.  This piece is my opinion only, and reflects my own experiences and thoughts.

Edmonton, we have GOT to do better.  We need to start acknowledging that racism is not just blatant use of racial slurs, but includes a wide variety of socially constructed biases that devalue persons of colour while uplifting the value of those who are white.  Every social system we have in our society is geared toward maintaining that status quo, and unless we really start standing up, things are not ever going to improve.

So let’s talk about it. 

Carding:  The fact of the matter is that people of colour are being carded at much higher rates than any other demographic.  The problem with the police stance on carding is intense to explore, involving many factors.  I am only summarizing here, but you can read all about here.

The current argument by EPS is that carding is:
1. A way for officers to make friendly with their community
2. Done in areas that are higher crime, which just happen to have higher numbers of people of colour.
3. The police are not racist.  Period.

Sounds great!  But when we dig a bit we find these assertions are problematic.  There is nothing friendly about insisting on seeing someone’s ID, then writing down their name, where they are at, their address, who they were with, and whatever else, in a log book that is then turned over to a government agency (CSIS) for further analyzing and documentation.  If this was about being friendly, the officer does have the option of merely introducing themselves and having a casual conversation.   And while these incidents do predominately happen in areas with higher levels of street crime, and often these neighbourhoods are also homes to a higher number of persons of colour than persons who are white, the carding statistics do not match the demographics.  This simplistic view also ignores the system bias that goes into every aspect of policing and law making.  More information on that here.   It also ignores that white people, even when in the same location as people of colour, are carded less.  I worked downtown here in the early 90’s and have never been carded.  Not once.  Not even when standing beside a person of colour who while they were being carded. AS to police not being racist, I beg to differ.  If you were raised in a society (like this one) in which we are taught to have racial biases, then you are racist.  Putting on a uniform and hiring people who are brown or black does not erase biases.  More on that here.

So let’s have these conversations.  Let’s try to HEAR what people of colour are telling us.  Let’s stop feeling defensive and instead just have compassion enough to imagine what it is like to live, right here in Edmonton, as a person of colour.  And then, just maybe, we can start to learn, grow and uphold one another.

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