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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Second-generation visible minority Canadians are more likely to report discrimination compared to their parents.

A higher proportion of second-generation visible minority Canadians reported experiences of perceived discrimination than first-generation visible minorities, according to a 2007 study.

Perceived Discrimination by Race and Generation (graph)

(In my graph, Generation 0 refers to recent immigrants, and Generation 1 refers to earlier immigrants.)

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People of colour are not born with racial identities.

Some white people appear to think that non-white people have a strong ethnic or racial identity by default. They may think that if a non-white person is unaware of her race or ethnicity, it is a result of white interference. However, ethnic and racial identities are socially constructed, not genetically inherited.

Infants of colour, for example, are born without knowing their race, their ethnicity, their culture, or their history. These things are learned. Learning culture may involve learning skills, learning history may involve learning knowledge, but learning racial and ethnic identity often involves the internalization of social categories of difference and otherness.

Perhaps white adults have a weak sense ethnic and racial identity—if they have any at all—because they have not had the same experiences with being othered and being different.

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Canada’s integration problem is racism, not multiculturalism: study

Darker the skin, less you fit (Toronto Star):

Crunching thousands of numbers from 41,666 people interviewed in nine languages, the just-published study found skin colour – not religion, not income – was the biggest barrier to immigrants feeling they belonged here. And the darker the skin, the greater the alienation.

“We were surprised that religion didn’t have more effect,” said lead author Jeffrey Reitz. “It came down to race, with Asian people reporting some and with young black males the most stigmatized. The data is consistent with that.

“We tend to believe racism is a minor problem in Canada, of little consequence. Someone looked at them funny. Or that many immigrants are doing well, so it must be their fault if they aren’t. There is a reluctance to investigate the issue.”

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