Perspectives on Racism and the Human Services Sector: A Case for Change
James S. Frideres is associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Social
Sciences at the University of Calgary and the author of A World of
Communities: Participatory Research.
This collection of essays examines racism as it relates to the provision
of social services to Canadians. The contributors, most of whom are
anti-racist practitioners, bring a wealth of experience to the book.
Their arguments reflect a classical liberalism that endorses the
protection of basic ideals of liberalism, along with greater social
(both personal and collective) responsibility for service organizations.
There is a troubling lack of rigor and conceptual clarity in many of
the articles. To claim effectively that Canada is a racist society, one
must have evidence to bring to the table. To simply relate historical
incidents of racial injustice does not support the implicit contention
that racism is entrenched in our institutional structures. Nor does it
provide a useful tool for either social scientists or practitioners.
Before we can deal with racism, we must first understand its existence
and its pervasiveness. The contributors to this volume fail to
decisively support their charges, despite the availability of
national-level data that could serve this purpose.
Shortcomings aside, this thought-provoking and chilling book serves as
a powerful wake-up call. For that reason, it deserves a wide audience of