website statistics The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power

Availability: Ready to download

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists. In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of time A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists. In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis. Both Cole’s activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We’re In. Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more. The year also witnessed the profound personal and professional ramifications of Desmond Cole’s unwavering determination to combat injustice. In April, Cole disrupted a Toronto police board meeting by calling for the destruction of all data collected through carding. Following the protest, Cole, a columnist with the Toronto Star, was summoned to a meeting with the paper’s opinions editor and informed that his activism violated company policy. Rather than limit his efforts defending Black lives, Cole chose to sever his relationship with the publication. Then in July, at another police board meeting, Cole challenged the board to respond to accusations of a police cover-up in the brutal beating of Dafonte Miller by an off-duty police officer and his brother. When Cole refused to leave the meeting until the question was publicly addressed, he was arrested. The image of Cole walking out of the meeting, handcuffed and flanked by officers, fortified the distrust between the city’s Black community and its police force. Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality. Urgent, controversial, and unsparingly honest, The Skin We’re In is destined to become a vital text for anti-racist and social justice movements in Canada, as well as a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians.


Compare

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists. In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of time A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists. In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis. Both Cole’s activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We’re In. Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more. The year also witnessed the profound personal and professional ramifications of Desmond Cole’s unwavering determination to combat injustice. In April, Cole disrupted a Toronto police board meeting by calling for the destruction of all data collected through carding. Following the protest, Cole, a columnist with the Toronto Star, was summoned to a meeting with the paper’s opinions editor and informed that his activism violated company policy. Rather than limit his efforts defending Black lives, Cole chose to sever his relationship with the publication. Then in July, at another police board meeting, Cole challenged the board to respond to accusations of a police cover-up in the brutal beating of Dafonte Miller by an off-duty police officer and his brother. When Cole refused to leave the meeting until the question was publicly addressed, he was arrested. The image of Cole walking out of the meeting, handcuffed and flanked by officers, fortified the distrust between the city’s Black community and its police force. Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality. Urgent, controversial, and unsparingly honest, The Skin We’re In is destined to become a vital text for anti-racist and social justice movements in Canada, as well as a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians.

30 review for The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    A powerful book about fighting white supremacy in Canada. Desmond Cole writes with passion about anti-Black police violence in Canada as well as the racism and xenophobia directed toward Indigenous folx and immigrants. His analysis is incisive and delves deep into the impacts of colonization, as evidenced by this quote: “White supremacy is a hierarchy, with whiteness at the top. Indigenous peoples of the Americas, whose lands have been colonized by white settlers, occupy a low place on this hiera A powerful book about fighting white supremacy in Canada. Desmond Cole writes with passion about anti-Black police violence in Canada as well as the racism and xenophobia directed toward Indigenous folx and immigrants. His analysis is incisive and delves deep into the impacts of colonization, as evidenced by this quote: “White supremacy is a hierarchy, with whiteness at the top. Indigenous peoples of the Americas, whose lands have been colonized by white settlers, occupy a low place on this hierarchy – white supremacy is trying to replace them. But Black people, whom British and French colonists brought to this land in chains four centuries ago, are the bottom of the ladder. We are the scapegoats. Whiteness is constantly defined and reproduced through anti-blackness.” I appreciated how Cole dispels the myth that Canada is a post-racial paradise as well as the false belief that police brutality only occurs in the United States. Furthermore, I loved how he shared his many courageous moments of speaking truth to power, such as how he explicitly named the Toronto Star’s silencing of his activist efforts and his writing about racism. I feel like challenging people and institutions with power so openly takes a lot of guts, and Cole does not shy away from doing so. Though The Skin We’re In includes a lot of brutal content about Canada’s racism and xenophobia, Cole structures the book in a way to give us hope that through direct action and advocacy, we can disrupt systems of oppression and change the lives of marginalized people for the better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Desmond Cole marries journalism and activism to bring forth stories of the ways anti-black racism is permeated in Canadian society and the ways that black people are resisting in Canada. I respect how he discussed how struggles overlap and intersect amongst the black and indigenous communities in Canada and why resisting is so important. You really can't discount how much we have to stand together in solidarity to create change and keep pushing forward the need to combat anti-black racism in sch Desmond Cole marries journalism and activism to bring forth stories of the ways anti-black racism is permeated in Canadian society and the ways that black people are resisting in Canada. I respect how he discussed how struggles overlap and intersect amongst the black and indigenous communities in Canada and why resisting is so important. You really can't discount how much we have to stand together in solidarity to create change and keep pushing forward the need to combat anti-black racism in schools, in the "justice" system, in immigration policy and practice and in our every day lives. Reliving some of the stories, knowing some of the people in the stories, being to some of the events and protests described in some of these stories - it was hard to go through a second time on the page. As a person in Toronto working with various marginalized communities, having people in your family going through the same/similar targeted policing and police violence, reading this book was comforting in a sense. To know that we have people like Desmond Cole out here documenting these struggles, documenting the harm that anti-black racism causes in Canadian cities, we have young black people out here telling the truth and standing tall and not letting respectability politics, attempts at silencing by the old guard, false promises of comfort and job security sway them; it really, really fucking touched me. How Desmond Cole paints our distinct Canadian picture is important. We're not trying to compare tragedies between the US and Canada, and I love that he doesn't attempt to do that - he's highlighting how fucked up things are here, how unstable and unsafe things are here, how corrupt policing is here especially when it comes to how the truth of police brutality and harm against black citizens gets hidden under layers of corrupt or zero data collection, backtracking or disinterest by problematic, posturing politicians and layers and layers of unchecked and uncontested with white supremacy. Justice for Abdirahman (March) was the hardest chapter of the book for me because I remember clearly when that happened and just how traumatizing it was, especially in the community that I lived in at the time which has a high Carribean and East African population. To go through it again on paper, hurt so much all over again. I had to stop and take a breath and come back to this book. I can't overstate how happy I am that this book exists and that Robyn Maynard's Policing Black Lives also exists; both capturing the truth of the matter of anti-black racism here in Canada. I'm glad Desmond Cole exists. I'm glad that he asks the hard questions. I have issues with his weaponizing his stance in the community against certain black women in the community (looking back to the last mayoral election). I could get into that deeper, but yo, that's for twitter and doesn't have directly much to do with this book. I highly recommend that people read this book. It's a critical look into a charged year (2017) in the GTA and it's surrounding regions. It's a critical look into Black Life in Canada. It's also a critical look into Black Resistance and the continued resistance of BIPOC/marginalized peoples in Toronto, in Canada and abroad.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    a collection of sharp, swift essays that sketch the past and present of white supremacy in Canada + document anti-racist protests in 2017, the year this collection homes in on. Cole blends memoir and reportage in a way that's engaging. a collection of sharp, swift essays that sketch the past and present of white supremacy in Canada + document anti-racist protests in 2017, the year this collection homes in on. Cole blends memoir and reportage in a way that's engaging.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This is a book about Canada, a country which has a wonderful liberal image. There is a Wikipedia page called Canadian Identity which says : immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean have reshaped the Canadian identity, a process that continues today with the continuing arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non-British or French backgrounds Desmond Cole should think about editing that bit, because on page 151 on this book he says For as long as Canada has been a country, it has g This is a book about Canada, a country which has a wonderful liberal image. There is a Wikipedia page called Canadian Identity which says : immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean have reshaped the Canadian identity, a process that continues today with the continuing arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non-British or French backgrounds Desmond Cole should think about editing that bit, because on page 151 on this book he says For as long as Canada has been a country, it has gone to great lengths the keep Black people out He really doesn’t have that many good things to say about Canada, and particularly the part he comes from, Toronto : a city where powerful white people endlessly boast about how good they are to the rest of us as he puts it. He’s particularly irritated by the argument that goes well, there’s some racism in Canada, we agree, but it ain’t like America – they got real racism down there! So don’t complain. This is kind of a monthly diary of events Desmond was involved in during 2017 and covers some familiar Black activist territory – campaigning to get armed police out of schools, campaigning to end the police stop and search policy (called carding in Canada) or against the deportation of a particular immigrant. The police loom very large throughout the book. Well, naturally, as they have a monopoly on legal violence in any civilised society. Where they direct it is a whole other story. This book can get very detailed at times, Desmond being an activist in the thick of it, as for instance when he explains why the Black Live Matter-Toronto group felt the need to disrupt the annual Pride march. Principles are involved, you can believe it. Because of this close focus Desmond can find himself swimming in alphabet soup – throughout this book you will come across J4A, SIU, CBC, BLM-TO, RCMP, OIPRD, IRCC, SRO, FBC, DCS and some others as various groups of Black Canadians confront establishment hierarchies (and are usually informed they are talking out of turn and should shut up). ANOTHER SUGGESTED WIKIPEDIA EDIT Wiki says : Throughout the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, First Nations played a critical part in the development of European colonies in Canada, from their role in assisting exploration of the continent, the fur trade and inter-European power struggles … Carrying through the 20th century and to the present day, Canadian aboriginal art and culture continues to exert a marked influence on Canadian identity. Desmond says : The Canadian government and its institutions are the products of a white supremacist ideology that claims this land as the property of a white European colonial government. To maintain its stolen land, the government is engaged in an ongoing centuries-long genocide of Indigenous peoples.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Simmons

    I will preface this by saying Desmond Cole is a friend. This book, man oh man, this book. It reads at once like a convo with Des, a call to action (you better fucking act), and a thoroughly-researched history. The narrative structure of a month-by-month account of Black activism in the year 2017 is a helpful device that gives the story a meaningful framework. Each chapter addresses a specific event or area of activism - immigration, Pride, police in schools, police brutality - but there are recur I will preface this by saying Desmond Cole is a friend. This book, man oh man, this book. It reads at once like a convo with Des, a call to action (you better fucking act), and a thoroughly-researched history. The narrative structure of a month-by-month account of Black activism in the year 2017 is a helpful device that gives the story a meaningful framework. Each chapter addresses a specific event or area of activism - immigration, Pride, police in schools, police brutality - but there are recurring themes: the system isn’t broken, it was built this way, the system is white supremacy and it is failing Black people. The historical references provide just enough context and detail for it to be clear: Canada has a lot of history we aren’t facing. Please read this book, so we can own these truths, and start to make change.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    A must-read for all Canadians, as of last year. Words cannot even begin to describe how crucial this book is to understanding racism in Canada. The whole “Canada isn’t as bad as the States” mindset you have will be broken down, and you will be proven wrong. From cases with national/international attention to barely even a media mention at all, Desmond Cole takes us through the bad, the ugly, and the worst possible racist situations that have happened in Canada. Oh, and did I mention that this fo A must-read for all Canadians, as of last year. Words cannot even begin to describe how crucial this book is to understanding racism in Canada. The whole “Canada isn’t as bad as the States” mindset you have will be broken down, and you will be proven wrong. From cases with national/international attention to barely even a media mention at all, Desmond Cole takes us through the bad, the ugly, and the worst possible racist situations that have happened in Canada. Oh, and did I mention that this focuses on ONLY 2017? Ya.... Not only do we get just a brief glimpse of 2017 Toronto, we get the whole picture of historical facts/immigration bleeds into present day, with a main focus on politics and police brutality...but also public opinions mixed in. Definitely a nonfiction book of the year that you cannot ignore, or keep in your TBR shelf any longer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    I don’t even know where to start with this book. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting to think that the country I live in could be so racist. I also feel terribly uneducated and like I had rose coloured glasses on, I had no idea how badly Black people were treated by Canada. But it is my responsibility as a Canadian to know and to educate myself about my country and to fight against such terrible injustices being inflicted. After reading this book, I vow to do better and fight racial injustice in m I don’t even know where to start with this book. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting to think that the country I live in could be so racist. I also feel terribly uneducated and like I had rose coloured glasses on, I had no idea how badly Black people were treated by Canada. But it is my responsibility as a Canadian to know and to educate myself about my country and to fight against such terrible injustices being inflicted. After reading this book, I vow to do better and fight racial injustice in my country in every way that I can. It is incredibly well written and sharing Cole’s journey through a whole year was truly eye opening. I think this is an absolutely NECESSARY read for every single Canadian, it should be mandatory reading in schools. If you think Canada is not a racist country and if you think that there’s no police brutality towards Black people in Canada then think again and look into it. Racism and police brutality is VERY present in Canada and always has been.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    If you’re Canadian and you’ve said, or even thought, “well at least we’re not as bad as our neighbours to the south”, read this book. Not as bad as the worst doesn’t give us a pass to turn our attention away. Abdirahman Abdi. Defonte Miller. Abdouhl Abdi. We should know their names. Desmond Cole is someone I will continue paying attention to as he holds us accountable for anti-black racism happening every day in our country. He also draws parallels with this county’s anti-indigenous racism. Such If you’re Canadian and you’ve said, or even thought, “well at least we’re not as bad as our neighbours to the south”, read this book. Not as bad as the worst doesn’t give us a pass to turn our attention away. Abdirahman Abdi. Defonte Miller. Abdouhl Abdi. We should know their names. Desmond Cole is someone I will continue paying attention to as he holds us accountable for anti-black racism happening every day in our country. He also draws parallels with this county’s anti-indigenous racism. Such an important read. Also check out the CBC documentary of the same name (I found it on YouTube), which was the inspiration for Cole to write this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I read this book (as a white Canadian trying to become more informed) hoping it would tell the story of anti-Black racism and protests against police brutality in Canada, as most of the related news cycle is dominated by American news, and there are precious few contemporary nonfiction books on these issues by Canadian authors. The Skin We’re In wasn’t the right book for my current information needs, as it is pretty Toronto-centric and jumps between so many different topics that all that I reall I read this book (as a white Canadian trying to become more informed) hoping it would tell the story of anti-Black racism and protests against police brutality in Canada, as most of the related news cycle is dominated by American news, and there are precious few contemporary nonfiction books on these issues by Canadian authors. The Skin We’re In wasn’t the right book for my current information needs, as it is pretty Toronto-centric and jumps between so many different topics that all that I really took away from the reading were a few outrageous details, a generalized picture of systemic injustice, and the sense that I was not the intended audience. This book feels like it’s meant more as a call to arms for Black Canadians, and more specifically for those who are already activists, to more loudly demand better treatment by the system. I’ll keep looking for the book I’m hoping exists (or will soon exist), i.e. history with actionable items for broader society in the present moment, but for now it was nonetheless instructive to hear directly and at length a voice from deep inside the BLM movement.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ameema S.

    Oh, what an incredible read. The concept of Desmond Cole’s “The Skin We’re In” is unexpected, unique, and unforgettable. It’s the story of Canada in the year 2017 - capturing a year of the systemic, social, and structural ways we (Canadians) have institutionalized and weaponized racism, especially anti-Black (& anti-Indigenous) racism: Cole uses his skills as a reporter, and a writer, seamlessly weaving together a month by month history of racism and resistance in Canada in 2017. Although it cover Oh, what an incredible read. The concept of Desmond Cole’s “The Skin We’re In” is unexpected, unique, and unforgettable. It’s the story of Canada in the year 2017 - capturing a year of the systemic, social, and structural ways we (Canadians) have institutionalized and weaponized racism, especially anti-Black (& anti-Indigenous) racism: Cole uses his skills as a reporter, and a writer, seamlessly weaving together a month by month history of racism and resistance in Canada in 2017. Although it covered painful and heavy subjects, this book was unputdownable, & incomparable. I even found myself dog-earing pages, so I could research further on topics and stories. Cole’s writing has always been impactful, and ‘The Skin We’re In’ is no exception. This is one of those books you think about for a long time after you read it - one that you find yourself referring to constantly. Definitely a must-read for all Canadians, especially those who like to use the refrain “not as bad as the U.S.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mridula

    Excellent book and essential read for Canadians to learn about 'home grown and executed racism' within our borders. Desmond Cole has pulled together a tight, well researched book that highlights the struggles of the Black community in Canada. A must-read. Excellent book and essential read for Canadians to learn about 'home grown and executed racism' within our borders. Desmond Cole has pulled together a tight, well researched book that highlights the struggles of the Black community in Canada. A must-read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Klassen

    The Skin We're In battles the myth that Canada is more inclusive, welcoming, celebratory of diversity than the USA. Desmond Cole breaks down his work into the twelve months of a year of interrogating the white supremacist structures of the Canadian government, legal system, and law enforcement system. There is no equality in Canada. Black Canadians face the same kinds of harassment, intimidation, police monitoring, and racialized violence that Black Americans do. They lose their jobs for being ' The Skin We're In battles the myth that Canada is more inclusive, welcoming, celebratory of diversity than the USA. Desmond Cole breaks down his work into the twelve months of a year of interrogating the white supremacist structures of the Canadian government, legal system, and law enforcement system. There is no equality in Canada. Black Canadians face the same kinds of harassment, intimidation, police monitoring, and racialized violence that Black Americans do. They lose their jobs for being 'too black', they get stopped frequently by police to be carded. They get physically assaulted by police when they've committed nothing to warrant that treatment. Cole shows us through that cops are little more than thugs hired by the government to police 'dangerous bodies'. He shows us the attacks on black people in Canada that our media hide from us. Because of course they are happening. He also taps into the solidarity of BIPOC in Canada for one another. An entire chapter in his book on black resistance is devoted to the struggles for autonomy by indigenous people. He recognizes that this is occupied territory, a settler state that oppresses BIPOC people and policial dissidents. This solidarity made me so happy. Some really stand-out radical thoughts going on in this. He makes me want to burn it all to the ground in the best way. A must read for all 'Canadians.'

  13. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    I finally got to finish this after having to wait to get the audiobook from the library again after my time ran out when I only had 20 minutes left! It is a riveting, enfuriating, passionate book. It follows the year 2017 in Desmond Cole's life as a Black activist and journalist in Toronto. He covers a wide variety of issues, from cops in schools and Pride to police brutality, immigration injustice, and more. I especially liked how he integrated the struggles of Indigenous people with his analysi I finally got to finish this after having to wait to get the audiobook from the library again after my time ran out when I only had 20 minutes left! It is a riveting, enfuriating, passionate book. It follows the year 2017 in Desmond Cole's life as a Black activist and journalist in Toronto. He covers a wide variety of issues, from cops in schools and Pride to police brutality, immigration injustice, and more. I especially liked how he integrated the struggles of Indigenous people with his analysis of anti-Black racism in Canada. His "breather" chapter on taking a break and connecting in nature was also gorgeous. (It made me think about what kind of work we might get more of from Cole if he didn't have to constantly fight anti-Black racism). He also did a great job connecting current events to historical anti-Blackness in Canada without going into so much depth as to lose the thread of his argument. A must-read. Excellent as an audiobook book read by the author.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Schwartz

    The perfect answer to “but that doesn’t happen in Canada.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺

    This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I hated this book. I refuse to proclaim a book as wonderful simply because its topic is an important one. Lauded as the anti-racist book all Canadians should read and subtitled, “A Year of Black Resistance and Power,” The Skin We’re In is not the book I was expecting. To begin, it's largely about Toronto, with a few tidbits thrown in from other locations across this very large country. Wouldn’t a better book open our eyes to racism from coast to coas This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I hated this book. I refuse to proclaim a book as wonderful simply because its topic is an important one. Lauded as the anti-racist book all Canadians should read and subtitled, “A Year of Black Resistance and Power,” The Skin We’re In is not the book I was expecting. To begin, it's largely about Toronto, with a few tidbits thrown in from other locations across this very large country. Wouldn’t a better book open our eyes to racism from coast to coast? Secondly, Cole devotes nearly as much time to other marginalized groups, such as Indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ community, and new Canadians, as he does to injustices against black people. Again, important topics that need coverage, but not the book I was looking for. And finally, the tone of this book is so very negative. I understand that Cole is angry, and rightly so, but I was left with the impression that he genuinely hates Canada and all levels of government. He spews facts without context or comparison to other developed nations. Systemic racism exists and it’s terrible, but the only way to invoke change is to work within our democratic system, which ultimately exists for the greater good of all people. As the Black Lives Matter gained momentum in 2020, I was anxious to read an anti-racist book from a Canadian perspective. I am still looking forward to such a book. One that is better researched and less antagonistic.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    The Skin We’re In is a raw and unflinching look at the experience of being black in Canada. Anytime the topic of racism comes up in Canada, most people duck their heads and say it’s not a problem here or it’s not as bad as what it’s like in The United States of America. The Skin We’re In gives readers a glimpse of how wrong that statement is through a year in the life of Desmond Cole, a Toronto activist. I’m always trying to better educate myself regarding these topics since I have never had to The Skin We’re In is a raw and unflinching look at the experience of being black in Canada. Anytime the topic of racism comes up in Canada, most people duck their heads and say it’s not a problem here or it’s not as bad as what it’s like in The United States of America. The Skin We’re In gives readers a glimpse of how wrong that statement is through a year in the life of Desmond Cole, a Toronto activist. I’m always trying to better educate myself regarding these topics since I have never had to deal with them personally being a white female. Most books I’ve read center around the American experience of being black, so whenever I discover a book about the Canadian experience I add it to the TBR immediately. This idea that Canada's racial injustices are not as bad as they could be, this notion of Slavery Lite, of Racism Lite, of what my friend calls the "toy version of racism" is a very Canadian way of saying: remember what we could do to you if we wanted to. Passive-aggressive racism is central to Canada's national mythology and identity.” Each chapter of The Skin We’re In tackles a different issue through the lens of a police brutality case. This gives readers a chance to see the issue through real life experiences. Cole frames these instances of police brutality and murder in a way that makes them real. Not to say they aren’t real to begin with, but the media has a tendency to report stories without empathy. The story that resonated with me the most was that of Ottawa resident Abdirahman Abdi in July 2016. Abdi was brutally murdered by police. The police’s behavior after is embarrassing and not at all surprising. The way they’re allowed to close ranks around each other needs to be viewed as toxic behavior rather than some misguided boys club. Overall, The Skin We’re In delivers to readers a raw and unflinching look at what it’s like to be black in Canada. It will open your eyes to the realities people of colour face in Canada.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emmkay

    (4.5) Powerful and angry expose of systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. Cole, a journalist who lost his regular gig at the Toronto Star due to his advocacy work, structures his book month by month through the year 2017, exploring deaths at the hands of police, police in schools, the immigration system, etc etc. There’s a lot of ‘etcetera,’ and I mean that in the best way - he builds his argument out of a lot of solid, upsetting bricks, While I was familiar with a number of the individual incide (4.5) Powerful and angry expose of systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. Cole, a journalist who lost his regular gig at the Toronto Star due to his advocacy work, structures his book month by month through the year 2017, exploring deaths at the hands of police, police in schools, the immigration system, etc etc. There’s a lot of ‘etcetera,’ and I mean that in the best way - he builds his argument out of a lot of solid, upsetting bricks, While I was familiar with a number of the individual incidents from news at the time, seeing it all laid out this way, with the righteous indignation it warrants, is quite something. The book ends a bit abruptly, but that’s a quibble.

  18. 4 out of 5

    ❀ Susan G

    Thank you to Desmond Cole who has researched, advocated and shared experiences of Black individuals in Canada. This book was an education to me. Although I had heard of a few of the names and their experiences with systemic racism, I truly had no idea of situations like the brutal assault of Dafonte Miller by an off-duty officer and his brother, learned more details about the experiences of carding and the challenges of immigrating to Canada. The book shines a light on the systemic racism in Can Thank you to Desmond Cole who has researched, advocated and shared experiences of Black individuals in Canada. This book was an education to me. Although I had heard of a few of the names and their experiences with systemic racism, I truly had no idea of situations like the brutal assault of Dafonte Miller by an off-duty officer and his brother, learned more details about the experiences of carding and the challenges of immigrating to Canada. The book shines a light on the systemic racism in Canada and is call to action to pay attention to the news, listen, learn and encourage others of privilege to do the same.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A work about Canada's present that doesn't suffer from goldfish brain about our past. This is the indictment of Canada's white supremacy problem that everyone says it is. I would just like to add that what makes it so effective is that Cole refuses to succumb to the goldfish brain mindset that effects 97% of Canadian journalists, who go from story to story and forget what happened ten days ago. He even knows Canadian history, like beyond the Heritage Minutes. There aren't many people who do that A work about Canada's present that doesn't suffer from goldfish brain about our past. This is the indictment of Canada's white supremacy problem that everyone says it is. I would just like to add that what makes it so effective is that Cole refuses to succumb to the goldfish brain mindset that effects 97% of Canadian journalists, who go from story to story and forget what happened ten days ago. He even knows Canadian history, like beyond the Heritage Minutes. There aren't many people who do that and then take the time to explore its consequences publicly. Cole's made it his job to know. Our civic culture could use more people like him.

  20. 4 out of 5

    tinaathena

    A valuable book that should be a staple on the library shelves of Canadian racial/social progress. Lots of insight on historical flash points in Canada and puts into clear view that institutions that uphold racist policy are alive and well here. Required reading for those of us who knee jerk respond (myself included) with "at least it's not as bad as America" and highlights the damage and pain that mentality perpetuates. Also provides peeks into protest organisation and how grassroots activism g A valuable book that should be a staple on the library shelves of Canadian racial/social progress. Lots of insight on historical flash points in Canada and puts into clear view that institutions that uphold racist policy are alive and well here. Required reading for those of us who knee jerk respond (myself included) with "at least it's not as bad as America" and highlights the damage and pain that mentality perpetuates. Also provides peeks into protest organisation and how grassroots activism gets started and fuelled. Required reading for Canadian journalism and those interested in the field.

  21. 4 out of 5

    kelseyandherbooks

    If you are white and you are a Canadian citizen, then you MUST read this book. It will make you think, it will make you uncomfortable and it will make you confront your own biases on every single page. I learned more about anti-Black racism in this country from this book then I ever did in school. Desmond Cole is a talented writer and a dedicated activist, and I am so thankful that he put this book into the world for us to learn from.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    Somehow amidst all the well-deserved hype for The Skin We’re In, I missed hearing about its structure! This is Not Your Typical political memoir in that Desmond Cole has chosen a very deliberate structure: each chapter is a month in 2017 (with a coda for January 2018). He uses an event from each month of that year as a launching point for discussing issues of anti-Black racism and social justice in Canada. In this way, Cole stays focused and on-message while also making it very clear that anti-B Somehow amidst all the well-deserved hype for The Skin We’re In, I missed hearing about its structure! This is Not Your Typical political memoir in that Desmond Cole has chosen a very deliberate structure: each chapter is a month in 2017 (with a coda for January 2018). He uses an event from each month of that year as a launching point for discussing issues of anti-Black racism and social justice in Canada. In this way, Cole stays focused and on-message while also making it very clear that anti-Black racism is not an anomaly in Canada; it’s the rule. Not a month can go by without police officers killing a Black man, immigration officials trying to deport a Black person, or a debate happening about whether or not Black Lives Matter Toronto should be “allowed” a float at the Toronto Pride Parade. This is the most important thing to know about this book, I think: although Cole discusses his personal experiences, this is a book about structural injustice and inequity. If it seems like so many chapters focus on the police, that’s on purpose. Cole is not here to call out every random racist incident he and Black people experience from white people on the street. He’s here to point out that the systems in our society are designed to prop up white supremacy. And the policing system, as you might know if you’ve read Policing Black Lives or listened to part 1 and part 2 of The Secret Life of Canada’s wonderful educational podcasts on the origins of the Mounties. Policing in Canada has always been about controlling the bodies and curtailing the livelihoods of racialized people. Now, of course, when you read and listen to those resources, you might think, “But surely that’s in the past? Surely Canada is better now?” This is where The Skin We’re In becomes so crucial. Cole is not discussing historical trends here. He foregrounds things that have happened very recently, many of them in Toronto or its surrounding cities (I’m in Thunder Bay—all of southern Ontario is basically the GTA to me, ok? Don’t @ me), which is one of the most diverse regions of the country. The point is that you might have missed some of these, of course, but if you’ve missed all of them, then you haven’t been watching closely enough. Anti-Black racism exists in Canada, and Cole is here to tell you all about it. I could talk about every chapter, but then we would be here for a long time when really you should just be reading this book. So let me highlight 2 in particular because they are the intersection of law enforcement and education, and I am a teacher. In February, “zero tolerance,” Cole writes: White supremacy is always keeping score. The math is simple, as is the assumption of cause and effect: Black people get caught by the police so often because we break the law so often. Dominator culture tells Black folks that we not only bring this pain upon ourselves, but that we’re so irresponsible we blame our suffering on someone else, jealously landing on white people. This chapter is about the fallout around a Peel Regional Police officer handcuffing a 6-year-old Black girl at a Peel District School Board school in September 2016. Cole explores how the media covers the investigation and the girl’s mother. He shows us (white people) how our desire to see the police as forces of good often means we need to justify their actions as a matter of course. If the officer handcuffed this girl, she must have done something wrong. He wouldn’t have handcuffed her otherwise. (This whole situation reminds me of how, last year, Vancouver Police responded to a call from Bank of Montreal and handcuffed a Heiltsuk man and his granddaughter because the bank was suspicious about their desire to open a bank account.) And if we do eventually admit that the victim didn’t do anything to deserve this mistreatment, we write it off as a single “bad apple” of a cop. The reality, Cole argues, is this incident goes deeper than a single police officer making a bad decision. In the same chapter, he chronicles the curious story of Nancy Elgie. Elgie eventually resigned from the York Region District School Board after uttering the N-word in reference to a Black mother who attended a school board meeting. I say eventually, because it took a lot of back-and-forth in the media, with Elgie’s family rallying behind her with an increasingly convoluted series of medical excuses, before Elgie finally resigned. Cole presents this story as a direct contrast to the story of the 6-year-old Black girl. The actions of our state and our media are disproportionately harsh when dealing with racialized people; white people, on the other hand, often get a pass, even when we say and do racist shit. This isn’t merely white supremacy. This is structural white supremacy in action. By the way, if you’re concerned that Cole might be too polemical based on my presentation of these chapters, don't worry. He comes equipped with evidence, with statistics, and he mentions more than once that everything he is saying has already been studied to death. We do not need more studies, more reports, more surveys. We need action. That’s why the November chapter, “community policing” grabbed my attention too. Cole discusses how the Toronto District School Board finally, after much campaigning on the part of activists, voted to end the controversial School Resource Officer program that placed a police officer in many TDSB schools. I remember, growing up in Thunder Bay, seeing a police constable occasionally at our school, being all friendly. It never bothered me. But then again, I was white. Something I have learned over the years is that whiteness doesn’t just exempt me from mistreatment; it often isolates me from even seeing that mistreatment being visited upon racialized people. And maybe that means I should do more listening to racialized people instead of assuming their experience must much my own. This chapter is full of data, but it’s also full of stories. Cole collects experiences of many Black people, youth and adults recalling their treatment by community police officers as youth. There is a common theme, of course: Black youth are treated with suspicion, distrust. They are made to feel like criminals. Police officers intimidate them on purpose. This lays the groundwork for what ends up being a cycle of harassment, including carding, which Cole discusses in another chapter. When you hear these stories, you have to make a choice. Either you invoke a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance and think that all of these Black people are lying or mistaken … or you accept that your personal experience of the police is not, perhaps, the universal experience. That’s part of the power of The Skin We’re In. With the passion and integrity of a journalist, Cole dredges up all the reports and statistics you’ll want as “impartial” evidence of injustice. With the devotion and dedication of an activist, he brings to light the stories of people whose voices we don’t hear—or sometimes refuse to hear. This is a book that demands we go into our lives with an awareness of history and context. For me as an educator, that means understanding how the lessons I teach, the jokes I make in my classroom banter, the way I assess my students, might be insensitive or even outright racist—not as a result of anything deliberate on my part, but simply because I didn’t think critically enough about how I am approaching subjects, using resources, or addressing skills with my students. Admitting that you are part of a white supremacist system does not mean that you yourself are a bad person. But it means you have a responsibility to recognize how being steeped in that system means you can sometimes uphold it, even without meaning to do so. The other powerful aspect to The Skin We’re In is summed up by its subtitle: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. These are vital words. Cole wants us to understand that Black people are fighting against white supremacy, and that the sparse victories he includes in these books are the result of Black activists on the ground, doing the work. Black people mobilized to oppose the School Resource Officer program. Black people mobilized to prevent the deportation of Beverley Braham, of Abdoul Abdi. Change is and will continue to be in the wind. The question Cole asks us is simple: are we part of this change, or are we, through action or inaction, standing in its way? Originally posted on Kara.Reviews, where you can easily browse all my reviews and subscribe to my newsletter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Must-read for all Canadians... We have such a tendency to compare ourselves to the US and spread the idea that racism doesn't exist here, and this book does a beautiful job of dispelling those assumptions. Must-read for all Canadians... We have such a tendency to compare ourselves to the US and spread the idea that racism doesn't exist here, and this book does a beautiful job of dispelling those assumptions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    4.5 STARS - Canadians often compare ourselves to the US and sometimes, we can get a little high and mighty about how we think we have it better than our neighbours to the south. We definitely have it better in some ways, but in regards to racism? Canadians may want to think again. This is a book that all Canadians should read - particularly those Canadians who think 'racism isn't an issue here in Canada' with an attitude of 'thank-god-we're-better-than-the-Americans'. In this collection of essay 4.5 STARS - Canadians often compare ourselves to the US and sometimes, we can get a little high and mighty about how we think we have it better than our neighbours to the south. We definitely have it better in some ways, but in regards to racism? Canadians may want to think again. This is a book that all Canadians should read - particularly those Canadians who think 'racism isn't an issue here in Canada' with an attitude of 'thank-god-we're-better-than-the-Americans'. In this collection of essays, one for each month in 2017, Cole confronts long-held beliefs that Canada opens its arms wide for one and all. That we're a place of inclusion, a country that celebrates diversity and was a place of solace for thousands of Black slaves as the end of the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, Canada's truth is far from glowing. Desmond Cole, a Canadian journalist clearly documents numerous examples of racism, white privilege and puts a face to the issues using the specific cases of Defonte Miller, Abdouhl Abdi and Abdirahman Abdi. He shows how our systems in Canada were built with white supremacy in mind to the on-going detriment and subjugation of Black and Indigenous Canadians and how there is a general feeling of complacency by white Canadians to change a system that has benefited them for generations. Cole focuses on how racism is perpetuated at a systemic level in Canada - from its immigration policies, police brutality, corruption, intimidation and school policies. It is eye-opening, shocking and emotional. I listened to the eAudiobook which is narrated by the author. His knowledge and passion are evident and my only beef is that the pacing of the audiobook is very slow (I increased my speed to 1.4x). I also attended an online event last night hosted by Kitchener Public Library, in conversation with Ruth Cameron, the Executive Director of ACCKWA and advisory committee member for the ACB Network, which was powerful and enlightening with specifics to my own region of Ontario. The following quotes are from that discussion: "Black lives are constantly in a state of emergency." "Our [Black Canadians] deaths aren't a teaching experience for white people." Our system is functioning to "negotiate the level of harm as opposed to end it." (Ruth Cameron) This is a powerful read that illustrates the importance of resistance, Canada's desperate need for change and will give white Canadians a chance to look at Canada through the lens of a Black Canadian. But ultimately, it is Cole's call to action for systemic reform that all Canadians must acknowledge and vow to act upon. We have a long road before all Canadians can feel equal.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Deiterding

    I swallowed this book whole. It so clearly connects so many issues Canadians seem to relegate to other places firmly in the GTA. While presenting violence, Cole also presents hope. He outlines an ongoing fight. It is a call to action and if you aren't ready to act by the time you finish you need to read it again. I swallowed this book whole. It so clearly connects so many issues Canadians seem to relegate to other places firmly in the GTA. While presenting violence, Cole also presents hope. He outlines an ongoing fight. It is a call to action and if you aren't ready to act by the time you finish you need to read it again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This book is such an important read for Canadians, especially those who say "I'm so glad I live in Canada" when something terrible happens in the states. I learned a lot about Canada and Ontario's racist history (and unfortunately present) in Cole's collections of stories. I will recommend this book to many. This book is such an important read for Canadians, especially those who say "I'm so glad I live in Canada" when something terrible happens in the states. I learned a lot about Canada and Ontario's racist history (and unfortunately present) in Cole's collections of stories. I will recommend this book to many.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Cole is a fighter for racial justice in Canada. I respect how he puts his principles before his check book. As he says, when he lost his high profile column with the Toronto Star, he wasn’t even getting dental benefits! He convincingly roasts the Star and it’s editors for their hypocrisy. In his book, he talks more about how it’s about fighting white supremacy and less about the how the roots of racism are endemic to capitalist society. For me, it is very much a class privilege we fight against, Cole is a fighter for racial justice in Canada. I respect how he puts his principles before his check book. As he says, when he lost his high profile column with the Toronto Star, he wasn’t even getting dental benefits! He convincingly roasts the Star and it’s editors for their hypocrisy. In his book, he talks more about how it’s about fighting white supremacy and less about the how the roots of racism are endemic to capitalist society. For me, it is very much a class privilege we fight against, economic as well as racial injustice, and unity between workers we must fight for. Working people have more to gain in this fight and our eyes should be on the ruling rich and join in any fight against any oppression and fight for socialism, to radically transform society. Each chapter stands as an undeniable indictment of how I think capitalism creates racist and economic oppression. The book is all about how Black working people show the incredible leadership capacity to fight. I appreciated the BLM-TO fight to end police floats in Pride. Cole does talk a lot about revolutionary acts and fighting against «the state», especially against the cops that are the armed force of the state, but he does not go as far to say that it’s the capitalist state. He clearly does not have a class perspective. However, Cole aptly describes and brings to attention very articulately and with force the fallacy of the Federation of Black Canadians as a fighting organization, the tragedy of the ineffectiveness of the tribunal of murdered indigenous girls & women, the racist legacy of police brutality in Canada and the hypocrisy of the Liberal government in face of reversing deportations, protecting and helping refugees, failing Truth & reconciliation. He describes the victories of fighting against cops in schools. In light of the Covid19 pandemic today, these injustices will get worse and Cole stands out as a real fighter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Makenzie

    A book I highly recommend, especially to fellow Canadians. Desmond Cole highlights the intersections between the history of slavery on the land we currently call Canada, police violence, public school policies, immigration policies, and international military involvement—and the ways in which they perpetuate racism and violence against Black people on a systemic level. He also foregrounds the incredible work currently being done by Black activists across the country. The preponderance of police A book I highly recommend, especially to fellow Canadians. Desmond Cole highlights the intersections between the history of slavery on the land we currently call Canada, police violence, public school policies, immigration policies, and international military involvement—and the ways in which they perpetuate racism and violence against Black people on a systemic level. He also foregrounds the incredible work currently being done by Black activists across the country. The preponderance of police brutality and the lack of accountability in this country is horrendous, something I have the immense privilege of only coming to terms with now, rather than knowing through lived experience. Did you know that there is no agency in Canada keeping track of statistics on incidents of police violence against people of colour? That the SIU, the Ontario agency responsible for investigating police misconduct in the province, relies on police to make reports of police violence to them? That they do not release information to the public on the number of police officers who have been investigated for sexual assault? Further, that the federal and provincial governments have no policy in place to enable children of refugees and recent immigrants taken into government care to apply for Canadian citizenship? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Canada says "look how far we've come" without defining who "we" is, how we've arrived where we are, and from where we came, and in what condition we've arrived. Canada is a phantom train that God sent chugging up an endless hill."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    There’s a popular myth that floats around (recently heard in the NBA by Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors) that there is no racism in Canada. Or if there is, it’s by outsider groups or radical right wing nutters. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. (Considering Canada is a British colony that was built at the great expense of Indigenous peoples and using slavery, I’m not sure how this rumour persists). In ‘The Skin We’re In’, Desmond Cole outlines a year of overt and s There’s a popular myth that floats around (recently heard in the NBA by Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors) that there is no racism in Canada. Or if there is, it’s by outsider groups or radical right wing nutters. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. (Considering Canada is a British colony that was built at the great expense of Indigenous peoples and using slavery, I’m not sure how this rumour persists). In ‘The Skin We’re In’, Desmond Cole outlines a year of overt and systemic racism in Canada, particularly in Toronto and especially by police. It took me awhile to get through this book because I had to calm myself down after every chapter - if you’re not angry when you read this book, there’s something wrong. Having said that, I also really enjoyed Cole’s writing style and effective use of sarcasm. This book is vital for Canadians to read because it’s too easy to get apathetic and complacent. We’re usually too busy patting ourselves on the back for not being like the US (sorry American friends), when we need to be looking in our own Canadian systems- Justice, education, police. I recommend this book for all Canadians and anyone interested in social justice.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Parts of the book should be included in a history or similar class regarding the treatment of Blacks and Indigenous peoples for years (centuries?). I can recall seeing the coverage of the tee-pee on Parliament Hill during Canada 150, the Dafonte Miller story, BLM blocking the Pride Parade a few years back. The other interesting and relevant writing was about Birchtown, Nova Scotia and "The Book of Negros" (a great book by Lawrence Hill) recently re-broadcast on CBC. And how Mr. Cole's extended f Parts of the book should be included in a history or similar class regarding the treatment of Blacks and Indigenous peoples for years (centuries?). I can recall seeing the coverage of the tee-pee on Parliament Hill during Canada 150, the Dafonte Miller story, BLM blocking the Pride Parade a few years back. The other interesting and relevant writing was about Birchtown, Nova Scotia and "The Book of Negros" (a great book by Lawrence Hill) recently re-broadcast on CBC. And how Mr. Cole's extended family has been back and forth between Canada and Sierra Leone. The interactions with Mr. Cole and the police, politicians, school boards, etc., was eye-opening.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...