Middle Passage Law Series

Ainsley Brown will be doing a special series on the “middle passage law,” addressing specific areas of diversity in the law.

Welcome to the middle passage law series. This series is an attempt – hopefully a successful one – to raise diversity issues and begin a dialog between law students. Specifically, middle passage law will be black/Afro-Canadian focused.

Oh My! Here we go again.

Yes black focused. I will give you a moment to either collect yourself from the discomfort or elation you might have just felt.

Are you ok? If yes then good, if not then that’s good as well.

Middle passage law is not intended to be divisive – as divisive the issue of race can be at times. Neither is it meant to appeal only to black law students. No! Instead it is meant to appeal to all fair minded people who are concerned with justice and wish to have an open and honest discussion about issues that affect us all. And I hope that is most law students.

Why black diversity? Why indeed. The short answer is: it’s important. It is important not just to provide information but also to provide a medium in which and through which black diversity issues can be discussed in constructive, open and honest ways.

As such, it is important – and I don’t know if you are you ready for this – to admit that Canada has racial problems. And the law, as much as some would like to think or have others think is not immune.

Ok, There I Said It!

You don’t have to take my word for it – and you shouldn’t – just take a closer look at its instruction, practice or its application to see the truth.

I know, I know that feeling of discomfort or elation is back isn’t it. Relax. Take a breath, collect yourself and read on.

But why should an admission that the Canadian legal profession has problems with racial diversity trigger such a response? Would your response be the same if the admission was made about women? Why is it that we are more at ease as a profession, be it in law schools, or in firms or in the justice system, addressing gender diversity problems than we are addressing racial diversity?

This is not to say that other diversity communities are not important, for they are. Or that there isn’t tremendous overlap in both principle and substance between black diversity issues and issues facing other communities – for there is. Then why black diversity?

The answer is the aim of the series. Middle passage law is an attempt to fill a void and bring awareness to issues that affect a specifically identified community that is often overlooked or portrayed negatively in Canada – Afro-Canadians.

Middle passage law is not intended to be simplistic, nor will it be. This complexity will be reflected in the multiplicity of issues that will be tackled always bearing in mind that ultimately afro-Canadian issues are not exclusively – and put this in finger quotes – “Afro-Canadian” but are principally Canadian.

Then what’s with the name – middle passage law? Stay tuned.

2 Comments on "Middle Passage Law Series"

  1. Awesome, Ainsley. Looking forward to more. See you around!

  2. This promises to be a most interesting and relevant series — and exactly the sort of thing that needs to be discussed openly right from the beginning of law school, because it sure isn’t discussed much (outside of CBA committees) in practice.

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