Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah on persistent issues of systemic racism within RCMP in CBC News article

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah was recently featured in a CBC News article titled RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show by Catharine Tunney. The article opens with an overview of the lack of diversity in RCMP hiring practices over the last decade. In reference to the statistics provided by the RCMP, Professor Owusu-Bempah criticized their use of “visible minority” to collapse all non-white, non-Indigenous Mounties into one category. He explained that this racist practice makes tracking how representative the RCMP is of the communities they serve impossible.

Professor Owusu-Bempah also noted that while making the RCMP representative of the populace is important for changing attitudes and behaviors within the ranks over time, the issues around systemic racism in policing institutions cannot be resolved by simply making the ranks less white. One such issue mentioned in the article by Professor Owusu-Bempah was that of ongoing harassment and discrimination of RCMP members by other Mounties, and he argued that this problem could only be resolved by holding the individuals responsible at every level of the institution.

Professor Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the U of T Mississauga campus. He frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets on topics related to his research focus: the intersection of race, policing and justice.

We’ve included an excerpt to the article below. Read the full article at CBC News here.

RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show

Updated statistics come as the national police force grapples with systemic racism

The head of the RCMP has promised to “double down” on efforts to boost diversity among its officers — but newly available statistics show those efforts haven’t borne fruit over the past decade.

The recently released diversity statistics come as the national police force grapples with a fierce debate over systemic racism in the ranks and claims that it polices racialized Canadians differently.

As of April 1, 2020, just under 12 per cent of the RCMP’s 20,000 rank-and-file members identify as visible minority, according to figures posted online late last week. That figure hasn’t changed dramatically over the past few years and remained lower than the general rate in the workforce nationwide.

The percentage of regular RCMP members who self-identified as Indigenous remains higher than the Indigenous share of the wider workforce, but that number has decreased slightly over the past nine years.

This year, 7.2 per cent of regular members identified as Indigenous — down from 7.8 per cent in 2011 — according to the new figures published on the RCMP’s website.

The force said it doesn’t track detailed employment equity data, which means it’s not clear how many officers listed as “visible minority” also identify as Black or South Asian, for example.

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto who studies race and policing, said that’s a problem.

Read the full article here