The Black Experience Project (BEP) in the Greater Toronto Area
This project provides the groundwork and covers the critical first steps of a multi-year research study that examines the lived experience of Black Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The purpose of this larger study is to better understand the nature of the challenges facing the Black community, through exploring the lived experiences of individuals within this community (focusing on values, identity, aspirations and experiences), and the factors leading to success or failure. The literature review will provide an analytical framework and will help to contextualize this project within the body of literature that has been written on the experiences of Black individuals in both Canada and the United States. The collection, organization, and synthesis of this literature will also help to shift attention from overt barriers, such as those “cultural/social phenomena that motivate discriminatory behavior” (Robinson, 2009, p. 98), and will begin to focus more on the systemic issues that perpetuate economic, social, political, and educational disparities that disproportionately affect Black Canadians. Further, this analysis identifies and studies those specific cultural, structural, and demographic aspects that differentiate the experience of Blackness from other ethno-cultural and visible minority groups as well as to differentiate the experiences of different sub-groups within the Black community itself (Gary & Leashore, 1982; Butcher, 1994; Fong, 1996; Hughes & Dodge, 1997; Stoll, 1998; Culbreth, 2006; Dickerson, 2007; Pettit & Ewert, 2009).