Canadian Black History Month teaches us that Canada is “not racist”.

In Why I am Skipping Black History Month Renee of Womanist Musings writes:

When I was a child, Black history month consisted of the traditional lecture on Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, because heaven forbid we actually admit that as an English colony, Canada had slavery [too].  Many Canadians grow to adulthood and never realize this historical truth.  Because the underground railroad has become such a fixation, it has allowed many to have the false belief, that unlike our American cousins, that we were far to civilized to engage in this great crime against humanity. Instead, we will focus on the fact that Harriet Tubman’s church still stands in St. Catherine’s.  We don’t want to talk about the fact that White Supremacist Canada was hardly welcoming to escaped slaves, or that our Prime Minsters were not fans of people of colour.  Instead, we will wag our fingers and scowl about American founding fathers owning slaves.

Not only do many falsely believe that slavery did not happen in Canada, far too many are unaware that Jim Crow laws existed here as well.  In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested for daring to sit in the White section of a movie house.  She was dragged out of the theater by two men, injuring her knee in the process.  To further shame Desmond, after her arrest, she was held in a male cell block.  Eventually, she was charged with tax evasion because of the difference in price between White seats and Blacks seats.  It was a difference of one cent.  With the help of the NSACCP (The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), Desmond would take her fight to the supreme court of Nova Scotia.  Desmond was a trailblazer and instead of being recognized as such, the Canadian government recently sought to pardon her, as though her arrest was actually a stain on her life, instead of the government itself.

Growing up and attending Canadian schools, I never learned a single word about Desmond and I believe that this was to continue the indoctrination that Canada is a tolerant, racially just society.  I did not learn about the porters strike.  I most certainly did not learn about the destruction of Africville.  As a child, it forced me to look southward to find examples of people of the African diaspora to function as role models, rather than in my own country.  I would continue to live in ignorance, had I not made a great effort to look beyond the lack of education I had been given in schools.

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Link: Why I am Skipping Black History Month

White women are stereotyped differently from Black and Asian women.

Abagond describes the Three Bears Effect:

The Three Bears Effect is the name given by Aiyo at the blog Black British Girl for how whites stereotype blacks and Asians as opposites while putting themselves in the middle as “just right” – like in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

For example, black men are stereotyped as having big penises but not much intelligence while Asian men are the other way round, leaving white men in the middle as “just right”.

It works so well in America that in most cases you can tell what the Asian stereotype will be by taking the opposite of the black one:

  • If blacks are cool, then Asians are nerdy.
  • If black women are disagreeable, overbearing and loud, then Asian women are sweet, submissive and quiet.
  • If blacks are lazy, then Asians are hard working.
  • If blacks have a lower IQ than whites, then Asians have a higher one.
  • If blacks have a higher poverty rate than whites, then Asians have a lower one.
  • If blacks have less education than whites, then Asians have more.
  • If black women are “mannish”, then Asian women are “ultra-feminine”.

Etc.

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Privilege and Perspective: White people are different.

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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If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged.

Often, computer geeks who started programming at a young age brag about it, as it is a source of geeky prestige. However, most computer geeks are oblivious to the fact that your parents being able to afford a computer back in the 1980s is a product of class privilege, not your innate geekiness. Additionally, the child’s gender affects how much the parents are willing to financially invest in the child’s computer education. If parents in the 1980s think that it is unlikely their eight-year-old daughter will have a career in technology, then purchasing a computer may seem like a frivolous expense.

Because of systemic racism, class differences correlate with racial demographics. In the Racialicious post Gaming Masculinity, Latoya quotes a researcher’s exchange with an African American male computer science (CS) undergraduate:

“Me and some of my black friends were talking about the other guys in CS. Some of them have been programming since they were eight. We can’t compete with that. Now, the only thing that I have been doing since I was eight is playing basketball. I would own them on the court. I mean it wouldn’t be fair, they would just stand there and I would dominate. It is sort of like that in CS.”
– Undergraduate CS Major

Those “other guys” in CS are those white, male geeks who brag in CS newsgroups about hacking away at their Commodore 64s as young children, where successive posters reveal younger and younger ages in order to trump the previous poster. This disgusting flaunting of privilege completely demoralizes those of us who gained computer access only recently. However, CS departments—which tend to be dominated by even more privileged computer geeks of an earlier era when computers were even rarer—also assume that early computer adoption is a meritocratic measure of innate interest and ability.

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White people are different from people.

In Gutsell and Inzlicht’s study showing physical evidence that white people have difficulty empathizing with non-white people, the researchers studied only white people and made a generalization about “people”:

Our research suggests that people do not mentally simulate the actions of outgroups. That is, those neural networks underlying the simulation of actions and intentions—most likely part of the ‘‘mirror-neuron-system”—are less responsive to outgroup members than to ingroup members.

The Clark Doll Experiment showed that black children prefer white dolls to black dolls during the time of de jure racial segregation. If the researchers instead tested only white children as representative of “children” and found that white children preferred white dolls to black dolls, they might have concluded that all children during Jim Crow prefer dolls of their own race, which would have been completely wrong.

In studies on implicit race bias, white people unconsciously prefer white people to black people, even when they do not consider themselves racist. If the implicit race bias researchers tested only white participants, they might conclude that the preference is due to “people’s” ingroup bias. However, they would be completely wrong, since the same implicit race bias studies on blacks show that blacks prefer whites and blacks equally.

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