SEMINAR BY PROFESSOR ESMERALDA M.A.THORNHILL
Reading R. v RDS: A Key to Understanding the
Dynamics of ‘Race’ and Gender Intersecting
© 2015 Esmeralda M. A. Thornhill
To many Black women, compelled to chart and pilot our lives in the interstices between `race` and gender, everything has changed, but nothing has really changed. Eighteen years ago the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a ground-breaking decision on ‘race’ and racism in the landmark case, R. v. RDS – an eye-opener on several levels. This case which started out as the criminal trial in Family Court of a Black youth on a bicycle, ended up with the Black female trial judge herself being “tried” by the legal, political, and social systems of our country. RDS opens a direct window on the complex dynamics, inevitable ongoing tensions, and palpable material reality that all come into play when ‘race’ and gender do intersect. This case’s historical and legal significance cannot be understated. Yet, more important than the actual court case itself is the aftermath and attendant fall-out, so rife with egregious acts of omission and commission, that individually and collectively, we are impelled to question the glaring contradictions between the equality “speak” and the actual praxis of so many well- intended do-gooders … feminist practitioners not excepted.
— Esmeralda M.A. Thornhill