Jeffers calls for plan to deal with anti-Black racism in the workplace

From left Rose Nelson, Arlene Wallace ETC Chair and Ken Jeffers at a recent event in Toronto

More than five months ago, Kenneth Jeffers, a member of the Toronto Police Service Board and longtime community  proactivist, wrote a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne calling for  the establishment of a civilian oversight Board of the Human Rights Commission (OHRC) with a standing  sub-committee to address anti-Black racism issues.

He still has not received a  reply to his letter, Jeffers told a meeting of the Expose Toronto Committee at the Edithvale community centre last  Thursday evening.

The meeting, chaired by Arlene  Wallace, was called to discuss the problem of anti-Black racism in the workplace

 ” I recently contacted the  office of  the Premier  and was told a reply to my letter was sent out but to date I  have  not received it,” Jeffers said.

But he is not prepared to just sit and wait on a reply from Wynne, he said.

Since  he sent the letter to Wynne, Jeffers along  with lawyer Knia Singh  met with Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner with the  OHRC, to discuss the proposed oversight  board.

In  an interview with the Caribbean Camera last  December, Mandhane had said the OHRC already has civilian oversight  through  part-time Commissioners appointed by the  Lieutenant Governor.

But she said  that Jeffer’s concerns about Anti-Black racism are “serious matters  and deserve  serious consideration.”

Several persons at the meeting affected by the  problem spoke about their  experiences.

One of them who was a member of staff in the in the City of Toronto, said he were traumatized by the presence of three custodial staff dressed as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) .

In his letter to the Premier, Jeffers had  made reference to  several cases of persons who were  affected by “racism in the workplace.

Noting  the impact  of workers being “victimized, harassed and humiliated,” Jeffers  had said that few  people would know  “of  the domino  effect on family and  friends  when their  mental  health  becomes  severely challenged.”

Jeffers told the meeting that a plan has to be drawn up to deal with the problem .

And part of that plan is to publicize  as widely as possible the problems which many in the black community face in the workplace both in the private and public sector.

In  an interview after the meeting, Jeffers explained why  he felt it  was necessary  to make representation directly to Premier Wynne.

“We need legislative change  and as head of the  provincial  government, Premier Wynne  is in a position to bring  this about,”

“It’s not  enough  just to march on the street to bring about change,” he remarked.