Desmond Cole | Hillman Foundation

2016 Honourable Mention

Desmond Cole
Toronto Life

“The Skin I’m In” presents Desmond Cole’s lived experience of anti-black racism in Ontario. The exposé drew Canadians into the painful, demeaning experiences of black people who were subject to “carding” by police forces.

The feature piece gave a powerful voice to victims of the much criticized police practice of stopping civilians not suspected of a crime, interrogating them and storing this information in police databases.

Every major Canadian news network, and dozens of local and independent outlets, reported on this article. As pressure built on the Mayor and the provincial government to end carding, the Province announced plans, despite opposition by major police forces, to introduce regulations this year that would restrict, if not eliminate the practice.

Cole’s piece was a timely and necessary catalyst for change. The story shattered public beliefs that only those involved in crime and suspicious activity are subject to police scrutiny. It forced those who take Toronto’s racial and ethnic diversity for granted to consider the experiences of racialized people, in policing and in everyday life. 

Desmond Cole is a Toronto journalist and weekly Star columnist who took off his journalist hat to become an activist voice in the fight against arbitrary police stops.