The Hidden Job Market – Whiteness Has Its Privileges

© Copyright 2010 by Joseph Worrell. Reproduced with permission on Restructure!.

In February 2006, The Canadian Labour Congress presented a disturbing study on Canadian workers. The report maintained that Canadian-born visible minorities faced the highest barriers to steady, well-paying jobs of any group in the country.

Post 911 Arab-West Asians came in first with a 14% unemployment rate, Blacks at 11.5% and Latin Americans at 10.5%. Aboriginal Canadians also failed to reap many job rewards but statistics curiously grouped them with unemployed Euro-Canadians.

The Labour Congress’ study caused a bit of quandary, except among those who are already “in the know” about the dilemma.

Leslie Cheung, of Simon Fraser University, declared the report could not disavow “workplace inequality with education disparities because non-White Canadians are better educated as a whole than native-born Whites and immigrants”. The Labour Congress predicts the situation to worsen as huge numbers of non-White young people enter the job market.

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Statistics of Women of Colour Profiles at OkCupid

OkCupid statistically analyzed the profiles of their users and found the phrases that made each racial group distinct:

We selected 526,000 OkCupid users at random and divided them into groups by their (self-stated) race. We then took all these people’s profile essays (280 million words in total!) and isolated the words and phrases that made each racial group’s essays statistically distinct from the others’.

There is a lot of data at the link, but here are the phrases that make groups of women of colour—Asian women, Pacific Islander women, Indian women, Middle Eastern women, Black women, Latina women—distinct. (For some reason, all female groups except for White women and Indian women really like Alicia Keys.)

Asian women: coz

coz, chocolates, i'm a simple girl, a foodie, surfing the net, love story, alicia keys, serendipity, asian food, romantic comedy, different places, the xx, tuesday's with morrie, the time traveler's wife, bossa nova, sashimi, jolly, different cultures, china, music, jason mraz, noodle, food network, cheerful, good heart, trying out new things, petite, mom's, michael buble, my cellphone, r & b, my passport, malcolm gladwell, u are, norah jones, anthony bourdain, a walk to remember, gossip girl, pls, badminton, slumdog millionaire, pop rock, food, new recipes, asian, cooking and baking, sleepless in seattle, lip balm, pho, cookbooks
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Non-white travellers’ Canadian citizenships angers White Canadians.

The perpetual foreigner stereotype strikes again. If you are Canadian and died while travelling abroad, being White instead of Asian will protect you from the anger of Canadians. These Canadians will not be angry about you dying, but they will be angry that you were legally Canadian. Here are some better CBC comments responding to the racism, via Chinese in Vancouver:

I bet if the victims in question were white Canadians, we wouldn’t hear so much as a single blip from those loudly croaking about “Canadians of convenience”.


Why is it SOOOOO hard to believe that Chinese Canadians, might well have traveled during the summer holiday to Hong Kong to visit friends and relatives and then go over to Manila (a short 2 hour hop from Hong Kong) for a simple bus tour???

All the comments about “handing out” passports and Chinese Canadians should “stay in the country” are insane and touch on blatant racism!!!

Should Canadians of European descent also be restricted from traveling?

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Commercials conflate whiteness with modernity.

In Romanticizing Ancient Chinese Wisdom at Sociological Images, Lisa Wade writes:

This 40-second commercial for HSBC bank, sent in by Michelle F., is an excellent example of the way that non-white and non-Western people are often portrayed as more deeply cultural, connected to the past, and closer to nature than their white, Western counterparts. Sometimes this is done in order to demonize a culture as “barbaric,” other times it is used to infantilize them as “primitive.” In this case, it romanticizes.

[…]

Running on both English and Chinese language channels, the commercial contrasts the wise Chinese man with the young, white man. The music, the boats, their clothing and hats, and their fishing methods all suggest that the Chinese are more connected to their own long-standing (ancient?) cultural traditions, ones that offered them an intimate and cooperative relationship to nature. Simultaneously, it erases Chinese modernity, fixing China somewhere back in time.

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Asians are not all rich.

There is a ridiculous post at 8asians titled Asian Men Have The Highest Salary that was linked from Racialicious for some reason. The author, Tim, writes:

If you were looking for another reason to date an Asian male, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just came up with one. In their latest report on earnings in the 2nd quarter of 2010, Asian men topped the charts again, making $901 in median weekly earnings. Asian women were second at $854, followed by white men at $838.

Let us ignore the often sexist stereotype that women are attracted to rich men for now and look at the issue of race and income. The data I have comes from Ontario, Canada, and the great thing about Canadian race statistics is that Asians are not all lumped together.

Average Employment Income By Racialized Group, Ontario, 2005

Men Women Total
Japanese 73079 40572 56170
Non-racialized 50255 31682 41335
Chinese 41283 30129 35717
Multiple Visible Minority 39940 29156 34613
South Asian 37198 24897 31711
Arab 36894 24258 31963
Southeast Asian 36506 24549 30619
Visibly Minority not included elsewhere 35943 26583 31201
Filipino 35323 28798 31472
Black 33497 27485 30337
Latin American 33218 22518 28145
Korean 32828 22326 27757
West Asian 30212 21660 26502

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White culture rejects the agency of Asian women.

White culture humanizes white women more than Asian women. Racist stereotypes about the alleged submissiveness of Asian women convince even white women that Asian women lack agency. While most white women recognize the paternalism of a government deciding that women are incapable of exercising our personal choices responsibly, most white women think of Asian women in this way. According to most white women, Asian women need to be rescued from our own follies through the interventions of benevolent white folk.

White history teaches white people that white culture is the pinnacle of civilization. Because of this, most white people assume that social justice can only originate from white people, and that it must be taught by white people to brown people in order to achieve worldwide equality. Even white liberals have this colonial mentality and attempt to “civilize” brown people in other countries or at home. Unconscious white supremacist beliefs are so entrenched that most white feminists simply assume that gender equality must have originated from white imagination, when the history of North American feminism can be traced to Iroquois culture. The idea that white culture is not the most socially advanced is unimaginable to the vast majority of white people.

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White people have difficulty recognizing our emotions, but we can recognize white people’s emotions.

From the updated post White people are different from people:

In fact, group status may moderate cross-cultural emotion recognition accuracy (see Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002a; and Wolfgang & Cohen, 1988, for a discussion). For example, members of minority cultural groups may recognize emotion expressions displayed by individuals of the majority cultural group more efficiently than members of the majority can in return recognize expressions of the minority group (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002a). Furthermore, in some cases, an out-group advantage occurs such that members of minority groups recognize the majority’s emotion expressions better than they recognize their own (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002a). For instance, Asian Canadians have been shown to be more accurate when judging intense emotions displayed by Caucasian compared to Asian expressers (Bourgeois, Herrera, & Hess, 2005).


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