Anti-Black Racism definition and history

Anti-Black Racism is defined here as policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of Black-African descent.

The term ‘Anti-Black Racism’ was first expressed by Dr. Akua Benjamin, a Ryerson Social Work Professor. It seeks to highlight the unique nature of systemic racism on Black-Canadians and the history as well as experiences of slavery and colonization of people of Black-African descent in Canada.  


How does Anti-Black Racism impact health?

  • Racism can cause frequent stress on the body and trigger stress-coping behaviours (e.g. smoking) that often lead to disease
  • A study investigated the possibility of links between Canadians’ race, experiences of discrimination and risk for diseases such as high blood pressure found Black Canadians were almost two times more likely than White Canadians to be treated badly or with less respect. Frequent experiences of discrimination were linked with a greater chance of obesity and lower self-rated health.   
  • In Toronto, Black Canadians often face ‘service deserts’—a lack of safe, inexpensive and effective healthcare and community services in their communities.
  • A report about the sexual health education and services need for Toronto youth found Black youth were the only group of youth that pointed to racism as a key factor preventing them from using sexual health clinics.

How can we fight Anti-Black Racism?

  • Acknowledge Anti-Black Racism exists and that it has an impact on the health and well-being of Black-Canadians.
  • Eliminating Anti-Black Racism requires support from all levels of government, institutions, businesses, schools, healthcare, social service and community agencies and individuals.
  • Take a look at how or if you, your organization, agency is being inclusive and easily accessible to Black Canadians.
  • Join the Black Health Alliance in working towards finding ways to address Anti-Black Racism in order to improve the health and well-being of Black Canadians.

When governments, healthcare and social service organizations, employees and community members work together to eliminate Anti-Black Racism in healthcare and beyond, all Canadians benefit. Join us and many more as we work together to accomplish this goal.



City of Toronto (2017). Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism. Retrieved from

Phelan, J. C., & Link, B. G. (2015). Is racism a fundamental cause of inequalities in health? Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 311-330.

Siddiqi, A., Shahidi, F. V., Ramraj, C., & Williams, D. R. (2017). Associations between race, discrimination and risk for chronic disease in a population-based sample from Canada. Social Science & Medicine, 194, 135-141.

Toronto Teen Survey (2010).  What did Black, African, and Caribbean youth have to say? Planned Parenthood Toronto. Toronto, ON.


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