Bureaucratic discourses informed by legacies of slavery and colonisation create traumatising experiences among African Canadian youth in social, educational and law-enforcement institutions in Canada. These discourses create the already-known-people paradigm and are then exacerbated by the effects of neoliberal policies and managerialist administrations to produce an unfortunate social condition in which system professionals discount what these youth say about experiential marginality and social injustice. This means that African Canadian youth end up being understood by system professionals from administrative discourses or from historical assumptions. Using phenomenology, I argue in this article that focusing on the experiences of these youth in time when assessing or making decisions about them may help to reduce stereotyping and stigmatisation, and to highlight normalised social injustices. Consequently, focusing on behaviour-in-time as opposed to behaviour-in-discourse may allow system professionals to operationalise administrative discourses without downplaying behaviour-in-time, which is important in service provision.