4. Race and Crime

4.8 Discussion Questions

Dr. Michael Ma

  1. Kimberlé Crenshaw and others have used the concept of “intersectionality” to describe how race intersects with social and economic class, gender and sexual expression, (dis)ability, nationality, and other institutional markers of identity (Crenshaw, 1989). If race is so inter-locked with other social factors, then should the term “race” be refigured as “race-class-gender-sexuality-(dis)ability”? Does it change how you understand “race”? What does the new term reveal?
  2. The Roseland Theatre ticket seller—who would not sell Viola Desmond a downstairs ticket—claimed she was “just following the rules.” Was the worker passively following the rules of her work or was she actively being racist? Is she innocent of racism because she followed the rules of her employment and the general practices of society in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia during the period of 1946?
  3. Black high school students in Toronto are more likely to be streamed into special classes and vocational programs, more likely to live with a single female parent, more likely to drop out, more likely to be suspended, and more likely to have interactions with police than the average Canadian person. What does this tell us about race and racism?
  4. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s research allowed him to argue that humankind was split into five categories of humans: Caucasians, Mongolians, Ethiopians, Americans, and Malays. These categories have been discredited by more recent scientific research and academic scholarship, but the use of “Caucasian” persists today. What are some possible reasons for the continued and popular use of “Caucasian” while the other terms of reference have been discontinued?
  5. Without the assistance of the RCMP, the residential school system would not have been possible. Were the RCMP just doing their job and acting to enforce the social norms and practices of this period, or are they guilty of a historical wrongdoing or crime? If the RCMP were once involved in the enforcement of residential schools, then are present-day RCMP historically responsible for such past acts? If the RCMP helped remove children from their families and helped track down and return school runaways, then were they “party to a crime”?
  6. Using your own experience or current events, try to think of examples that illustrate the presence and practice of overt, institutional, and/or systemic racism.



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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Michael Ma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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