Robyn Maynard is a Black feminist who has spent years documenting racist and gender-based state violence. 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 the author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, a national bestseller, released by Fernwood Publishing in October 2017. In this groundbreaking work, which has received glowing reviews in Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, and been praised by Angela Y. Davis, Afua Cooper, and others, she addresses the historical and current realities of anti-Black state violence in Canada, alongside histories of Black resistance and refusal. The work traces the evolution of anti-blackness from the slave ships to the present, examining the state’s role in perpetuating Black poverty, incarceration, racial profiling, immigration detention,deportation, disproportionate child removal and low graduation rates. Following the dictums of the Black Lives Matter movement, the book approaches state violence against Canada’s African diaspora from an intersectional lens that 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.
A harsh critic of systemic racism in all of its forms, Maynard has been involved in grassroots organizing against police violence for over a decade. Most recently, she helped co-found Montreal Noir, a Black activist group committed to combating anti-Black racism in Quebec. Additionally, she is a part of the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance, where she co-coordinates harm reduction education for incarcerated women. In 2010 she helped found Justice for Victims of Police Killings, who work alongside 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: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice, 2bmag, World Policy Journal, the Montreal Review of Books 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).