In a 2011 study funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Drs. Deborah Cowen and Vanessa Parlette write that “it is now impossible to ignore that Toronto is becoming a divided city. Stacks of research confirm trends that are plainly visible in the urban landscape: social polarization, spatial segregation, and a deepening racialization of poverty are defining features of our city’s social geography. These trajectories come together in powerful ways in the city’s inner suburbs. Increasingly home to communities of people living in concentrated poverty, the residents of low‐income inner suburban communities are also increasingly people of colour.”


University of Toronto Prof. David Hulchanski also found that Black residents are disproportionately represented compared to their share of the city’s population in low-income neighbourhoods and white residents are similarly disproportionately represented in middle—and high—income neighbourhoods. 


Using the 2016 census, his team calculated that 48 per cent of Toronto’s census tracts are low-income neighbourhoods, where the average individual income is $32,000 before taxes. Fully, 68 per cent of residents in these neighbourhoods are visible minorities while 31 per cent are white, where white people make up 49 per cent of Toronto’s population.


Black residents are 9% of the city’s population yet 13% of low-income neighbourhoods are composed of Black folks. White residents are also overrepresented in middle-income neighbourhoods, where the average income is $49,000. 


This matters because in July 2020 Toronto Public Health provided an update on the socio-economic data for COVID-19 cases in our city. City Councillor Joe Cressy writes that “the data tells a story of two very different experiences of the pandemic — one for the privileged and one for everyone else.”


  • 83 per cent of COVID-19 cases involve racialized Torontonians, even though people who identify with a racialized group only make up about half (52 per cent) of our city’s population.

  • 51 per cent of COVID-19 cases involve people living below the low-income threshold — even though only 30 per cent of residents in our city are categorized as low-income.


So, when Toronto City Council voted to increase the police budget by 5% to invest in body cameras instead of the original motion to divest 10% of their budget toward community safety programs and services, it does not represent structural change and puts funds into programs that continue to marginalize racialized residents.  


The systemic oppression of BIPOC folks in cities, paired with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, has raised concern in cities globally around the ways in which cities have always been designed to inherently sideline the interests of BIPOC folks and further the interests of white people. 



See full bio →


See full bio →


Cowen, D., & Parlette, V. (2011). Inner Suburbs at Stake. Toronto: Cities Centre, University of Toronto. 

Read referenced article titled, "Latest update shows COVID-19 preys on poverty in Toronto." 


Read referenced article titled, "Toronto is segregated by race and income. And the numbers are ugly."


Read referenced article titled, "The Pandemic, Southern Urbanisms and Collective Life."


Read referenced article titled, "The Toronto Police Service is getting more than 2,000 body-worn cameras 

Abigail talks about the Model Suburb for Model Suburbanites: Order, Control, and Expertise in Thorncrest Village.


Abigail recommends the book Africville by Shauntay Grant.


Abigail references the opening of Voices of Freedom Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


More information on amusement parks, geology and settlers in Ashbridges Bay and the Beach that Abigail talks about.


Familiarize yourself with the work of Mentorship Initiative for Indigenous & Planners of Colour (MIIPOC). 


Cheryll talks about Spacing Toronto's article titled "Why is urban planning so white?" 


Learn more about Abigail's work with the Black Planning Project.


Read OPPI's Anti-Black Racism in the Liveable City and Canada Report as mentioned by Abigail.  

Abigail references this and this Nova Scotia MP Lenore Zann's bill when talking about redlining and environmental racism.

Lubna asks Cheryll and Abigail about Little Jamaica's threat to gentrification by implementation of Eglington Crosstown LRT. ​

With plans to equip their newly owned land with Black farmers, vendors, suppliers and contractors, 19 Black families buy over 90 acres of land to create a safe city for Black people in Toomsboro, Georgia​. 

Buy Cheryll's book House Divided: How the Missing Middle Will Solve Toronto's Affordability Crisis.


A Good Starting Point:




Why we capitalize B in Black




People to Follow

  • janaya khan

  • Desmond Cole

  • Angela Davis

  • bell hooks

  • Celina Cesar Chavannes 

  • Sandy Hudson

  • Yusra Khogali

  • Jesse Wente

  • Saron Gabrelessasi 

  • Blair Imani

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

  • Ilhan Omar

  • Ayanna Pressely

  • Rashida Tliab

TV & Movies

  • 13th by Ava DuVernay on Netflix

  • Dear White People on Netflix

  • Now They See Us



  • The Code Switch Podcast

    • NPR has lots of great ones

  • Come Through with Rebecca Carol

    • I really like the Gabrielle Union episode 

  • Jemele Hill is Unbothered

  • 1619

  • Leaders of Colour