Six Reads: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day calls for all of us to actively work to stop racial discrimination in all its forms: hatred, injustice, and systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples and racialized and religious communities. We’ve pulled together six reads to help envision a racism-free future.

Six reads for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


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Enough by Kimia Eslah (Fernwood Publishing)

Enough by Kimia Eslah.

In the novel Enough, writer Kimia Eslah lays bare the microaggressions that people of colour – especially women of colour – face daily in the workplace. This is experienced through the eyes of three Toronto City Hall employees struggling against racist microaggressions and worse, even as their workplace makes empty gestures toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This book shines a light on the work that’s really needed in terms of DEI, and reveals what’s at stake.

Learn more about Enough here.

Finish this Sentence by Leslie Roach (Mawenzi House)

Finish this Sentence by Leslie Roach.

Poet Leslie Roach explores the dark feelings that encountering racist experiences can provoke in her collection Finish this Sentence, and absolves the experience of having them. It’s on racism and racists, after all, not on you. Through these exploratory poems Roach approaches healing. As ARC Poetry says in its review: “If you’re Black and you’ve ever needed to hear, ‘you’re not crazy’ while allowing yourself madness, if you’ve ever needed to be shown scars that mirror your own, there is space for you in Finish this Sentence.”

Learn more about Finish this Sentence here.

Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr (Nightwood Editions)

Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr.

Conor Kerr’s much-lauded debut novel Avenue of Champions follows Daniel, a young Métis man living in Edmonton, trying to find his way. He’s confronted by systemic racism at every turn, pointing to the colonial violence Indigenous youth continue to experience in urban settings. It is in finding community with Elders and other Indigenous people that Daniel finds hope; seeing the cultures and hearing language that has outlasted colonial oppression. Kerr, in turn, shares this culture with the reader: Avenue of Champions is partly based on Papaschase and Métis oral histories.

Learn more about Avenue of Champions here.

Whiteout: How Canada Cancels Blackness

by George Elliott Clarke (Véhicule Press)

Whiteout by George Elliott Clarke.

Writer, poet, and academic George Elliott Clarke trains his critical eye on anti-Black racism in Canada in the essays of his book Whiteout. In this correction of the historical record, Clarke demonstrates that there is a personality to Canadian politics and culture that runs contrary to its tightly-held self-image of welcoming a multicultural mosaic. From the destruction of the Black community Africville in Nova Scotia to the racist streak running through Canadian true crime writing, Clarke asks the reader in these essays to challenge their notions of Canada, so that we might rebuild.

Learn more about Whiteout here.

Hand on the Sun by Tariq Mehmood (Daraja Press)

Hand on the Sun by Tariq Mehmood.

Tariq Mehmood’s 1983 novel Hand on the Sun – now republished in a revised and expanded edition – charts the experiences of second generation immigrants in the United Kingdom. The racism they face is structural, baked into British systems, as well as deeply personal. Above all, it is relentless, which forces Mehmood’s characters to seek justice and reclaim their dignity and humanity.

Learn more about Hand on the Sun here.

A Darker Shade of Blue by Keith Merith (ECW Press)

A Darker Shade of Blue by Keith Merith.

Retiring as a superintendent after 30 years of service with York Regional Police, Keith Merith wrote this memoir to document his experiences as a Black man both outside and inside of the force. From being pulled over and harassed by police as a teen driver to experiencing countless microaggressions by colleagues within the force, Merith sees a continued need for deep reforms within policing, starting with the people being recruited to serve. This insider look into the problems that run deep in police forces across Canada is a unique perspective, one that adds further nuance to current debates around police reform or abolishment.

Learn more about A Darker Shade of Blue here.