Mythical Encounters: Challenging Racism in the Diverse, Post-Racial City

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Shana ALMEIDA, Ryerson University, Canada
Armed with its motto ‘Diversity Our Strength’, the City of Toronto has garnered a reputation for being a world leader in tackling issues related to diversity, inequality, and racism. As the municipal government of one of the most diverse cities in the world, the City of Toronto is lauded internationally in large part because of how it prioritizes the participation of racialised and Indigenous groups in consultation activities and policy-making, in order to challenge the limits of racism, democracy and belonging, and to move beyond race.

In this presentation, I situate consultations with racial and Indigenous Others in the City of Toronto within the context of diversity discourse and the racial norms that are incited into and by it. A detailed exploration of City of Toronto policy documents which report on consultations with racial and Indigenous Others reveal that diversity discourse and the promise of the post-racial simultaneously invite and reproduce race via commodification of racial Otherness, and the continued abjection of claims of racism in the City. I draw on several policy examples to show how the essentialisation of racial and Indigenous bodies as lacking becomes intimately connected with the co-production of the diverse, post-racial City of Toronto and the naturalization of the white male subject, his knowledge, power, and right to space in the City. I conclude by arguing that diversity discourse and promise of the post-racial are racial ideals which are enlivened in the present because of the claims of racism made by racial and Indigenous Others in the City of Toronto, thereby making consultation processes with racial and Indigenous Others integral to the reproduction of race in the City.