The gap between rich and poor in Ontario, Canada, is swelling into what some activists call an economic apartheid. But what many of them won’t mention is the disparate impact the gap in wealth has on communities of color, or what Canadians refer to as “racialized communities.”
To confront the racialization of poverty, a group of 14 organizations and two research professors formed the Colour of Poverty Campaign. “When you talk about poverty, you must acknowledge that there are different root causes…as it affects racialized groups,” says Avvy Go, Clinic Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.
The campaign has begun by organizing with allies in Canada’s anti-poverty movement to bring the issue of race into their agendas. Many activists and government officials on the left are afraid of talking about race because Canada’s national identity rests on an ideal of a multicultural utopia where racial inequalities don’t exist, says Michael Kerr, coordinator of the Colour of Poverty Campaign. But as the number of people of color is expected to increase to 20 percent of Canada’s population by 2017, the issue of race will be harder to ignore.