PODCAST: Anti-Black sanism in the police killing of Abdirahman Abdi, and more broadly

A half-hour interview with Idil, board chair of Across Boundaries mental health centre in Toronto, on race and mental health issues within the contexts of killings by police, incarceration, and mental health diagnosis and treatment.

Photo from Montreal protest July 28, 2016 - credit Justice for Victims of Police Killings (album)
Photo from Montreal protest July 28, 2016 – credit: Justice for Victims of Police Killings (album)

Main topics covered:

  • Introduction to sanism, Anti-Black racism, and anti-Black sanism;
  • Circumstances of Abdirahman Abdi’s death at the hands of Ottawa police on July 24;
  • Importance of race being at the core of this discussion;
  • List of Black men with mental health issues killed by police in Toronto: “1978 we had Andrew Evans. The following year, 1979, we had Albert Johnson. Subsequently we’ve had Wade Lawson in 1988, Lester Donaldson also in 1988, O’Brien Christopher-Reid in 2004, Michael Eligon in 2012, Reyal Jardine-Douglas in 2013, Ian Pryce in 2013, and more recently we’ve seen Jermaine Carby and Andrew Loku”;
  • Little faith in Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and also how the SIU was formed because of Black community activism;
  • Intersectionality of anti-Blackness racism and sanism / mental health;
  • Problems in the mental health system;
  • The conversation that is now happening based on Abdirahman’s killing;
  • What is needed in/from the media;
  • Possible responses to police killings, especially the need for full and accurate data;
  • Problems in jails, prisons, forensic facilities;
  • The consumption of Black death;
  • Challenging, difficulty, despair…
  • The need to demand justice


AUDIO: 29min 25sec – direct link to mp3 file – Note: rebroadcasting in whole or in part is encouraged under Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 especially for campus/community radio

Samples: CBC Ottawa’s Idil Mussa; Brand Nubian; The Coup ft. Dead Prez; Goodie Mob.

Transcript of audio interview: available in DOC or PDF file formats (not proofread)
(provided courtesy of Ryerson University’s School of Disability Studies)

Links directly related to this interview:

  • Statement from Across Boundaries on the killing of Abdirahman Abdi: pdf link
    Across Boundaries is a community based organization in Toronto that provides servcies to folks living with mental health issues who are racialized: www.acrossboundaries.ca
  • “Civil and Political Wrongs: The Growing Gap Between International Civil and Political Rights and African Canadian Life” (2015) by Anthony N. Morgan, Darcel Bullen, and African Canadian Legal Clinic: 45-page pdf link – note pages 27-28 are specifically about the SIU and OIPRD
  • CAMH research study finds delays in access to mental health treatment services for Black youth (link coming soon)
  • “Racism in Ontario” 1992 report to the Premier by Stephen Lewis (38-page pdf link)
  • A written accompaniment (article and/or transcript) to this interview will be coming soon – please sign up to the EqEd mailing list for notice when it’s published: www.bit.ly/EqEd-list


Related Content from Greg Macdougall / EquitableEducation.ca

  • Ewart Walters – founder and editor of The Spectrum (1984-2013), a monthly newspaper for Ottawa’s Black community – speaks about starting The Spectrum and its niche in Ottawa’s media market, including keeping attention on the 1991 Ottawa police killing of Vincent Gardner

    This is four minutes of the start of his speech from October 2007, Media Democracy Day event on Citizen Journalism (direct mp3 file link) and he gets to the shooting of Vincent Gardner at 3:00


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