Robyn Maynard is a Black feminist who has spent years documenting racist and gender-based state violence. Her main areas of focus are anti-Black racism and the criminalization drugs and sex work. She has spent the better part of the decade doing frontline harm-reduction outreach work in Montreal, and continues to provide trainings for health and social service providers on the harms created by systemic racism, criminal laws and stigmatization.
She is currently completing her first book Policing Black Bodies: State Violence and Black Lives, for Fernwood Publishing, 2017. In this groundbreaking work she addresses the historical and current realities of state violence against Black bodies in Canada. The work examines the evolution of anti-Blackness in Canada, addressing slavery, border regulation, law enforcement, policing, schools and child welfare, incarceration and immigration detention. Following the dictums of the Black Lives Matter movement, the book approaches state violence against Black persons in Canada from an intersectional lens which centers, whenever possible, the experiences of those most marginalized within the Black community: youth, migrants with precarious status, Black cis and transgender women, sexual minorities and those stigmatized by real or perceived links to illicit economies.
Maynard’s past work has involved full-time street-based outreach with sex workers at Montreal’s non-profit organization Stella, doing harm-reduction, rights-based education and medical, legal, and social service accompaniments surrounding health and anti-violence. Maynard advocated for the decriminalization of sex work representing Stella at the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights at Parliament Hill. Past work also includes streetwork and group home outreach with youth at Montreal’s youth non-profit Head and Hands.
A harsh critic of systemic racism in all of its forms, Maynard has been involved in grassroots organizing against police violence. Most recently, she helped co-found Montreal Noir, a Black activist group committed to combatting anti-Black racism in Quebec, and is a part of the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance. In 2010 she helped found Justice for Victims of Police Killings, who work alongside several families of victims of police killings to demand an end to police violence and impunity. As a youth, she helped create Project X, a group that supports racialized young persons around racial profiling in Montreal’s NDG borough. Robyn Maynard continues to be a frequent public commentator on racial profiling whose voice is featured frequently in local and national media including CBC News, CTV News, the Montreal Gazette, Vice Magazine, and APTN.
Her writing has appeared in activist and mainstream media, as well as in academic periodicals, including the Toronto Star, The Montreal Gazette, the Feminist Wire, Le Devoir, Briarpatch, Upping the Anti, Shameless, The Dominion, Canadian Dimension, Atlantis Journal, 2bmag, and Canadian Women’s Studies Journal. She has also written and contributed to several important community resources, many of which are distributed around Canada. Additionally, her writing is featured in several book anthologies including Feminism for Real (2011), Border Imperialism (2013) Critical Approaches to Harm Reduction: Conflict, Institutionalization, (De-) Politicization, and Direct Action (2016) and Sex/Work: Regulation, Agency, and Resistance (UBC Press, forthcoming 2018).