White people’s family roots are deeper than those of ethnic minorities.

Another example of white privilege and othering is when white people assume that racialized people have deeper roots and stronger family ties than white people. The othering is based on the notion that “non-white” people are foreign people, and that “non-white” people have a stronger ethnic identity because we are more homogeneous and monolithic in ways of thought. White privilege allows white people to ignore the ways in which a white-majority society encourages only white families to lay down their roots and blossom, while historically, it enacted laws to extinguish and suppress “non-white” and racialized families.

White Americans envy African Americans for having “roots” in “Africa”, while ignoring the fact that Africa is a heterogeneous continent (like Europe), and that most African Americans cannot trace their African ancestry precisely because of white racism and slavery. It is no accident that African Americans are more likely to find documents attesting to the existence of their white ancestors. White Americans whose ancestors have been in the United States for multiple generations are the ones with the deepest roots, the ones whose histories were allowed to be recorded, the ones who own property passed down from generations, when all this was denied to non-white people.

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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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Considering intent to evaluate morality is an ancient Western tradition.

Contemporary Western intellectuals embrace secularism as ‘modern’, and they often perceive Eastern and African cultures as ‘traditional’ cultures that are steeped in ancient religious practices.

Many Westerners even describe Japan, an arguably more technologically advanced nation, as an interesting blend of the very old with the very new. A white man told me that he visited Japan to meet the parents of his Japanese wife. He said that Japan’s technology makes Canada look like a developing country. However, he insisted that Japan’s culture is very ancient in addition to being futuristic, because ancient cultural beliefs and practices are still part of contemporary Japanese culture.

I found it odd that Western culture is rarely perceived as ancient, even though so many of our beliefs and practices can be traced back to ancient traditions. It is difficult to look at Western culture directly, when we are so accustomed to looking through Western cultural frameworks.

An example of an ancient Western cultural artifact is the Christian tradition of considering intention when judging the morality of an action. This Christian concept is institutionalized in our legal systems as mens rea. For a very recent example of factoring in intent, Clay Shirky claimed that the filtering out of LGBT books from Amazon.com was only a “perceived injustice” and an “injustice that didn’t actually occur” since the delisting was done unintentionally.*

The overemphasis on intent is so pervasive that the effects of an entity’s actions is now considered less important or even unimportant. Furthermore, a culture that trivializes the importance of effect encourages people in power to prioritize image management over correcting bad behaviour. If intent is more important than action and effect, then showing that you had good intentions absolves you from your bad behaviour and your responsibility to correct your behaviour.


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* For the record, I was unaware of the #amazonfail twitterstorm until I read Shirky’s article, as I had Internet troubles during that time. Although he makes a good point about people’s tendency to rationalize their actions, because I wasn’t involved, I have no emotional investment in maintaining that an injustice did occur.

Linus Torvalds supports Barack Obama.

Linus Torvalds, original creator of the Linux kernel, wants Barack Obama to be the President of the United States. In his blog post Black and white, Torvalds writes:

The reason I bring this up is that while I can’t vote, I did want to say publicly anyway that I really really hope that Obama will be the US president elect after Tuesday night. I realize it probably won’t come as a big shock to anybody (yes, I’m a socially liberal open source freak from Europe – so what would you expect?), and others will just be angry.

If anybody wants a reason for that, just watch (or listen to) Obama’s “Call to Renewal” keynote speech from 2006. It looks like it’s split into 5 pieces on youtube – the whole thing is about 40 minutes – but it’s worth it, just to hear something rare: mentioning religion in the US without being black-or-white.

[…]

There are other reasons, but that’s the one that originally made me hope Obama would take the democratic nomination. And what he has done since hasn’t changed that. He’s obviously smart and thoughtful, and he has a very interesting background that makes me believe that he really can see the other side not just when it comes to religion, but when it comes to international issues too.

Of course I’m biased (we all have our quirks), but I think it makes a difference to have actually lived in another culture. I suspect Obama understands the US better because he has seen something else, and has seen it from a wider background. He’s not a black and white person – and ironically, that is probably partly exactly because he is a black and white person in a totally different sense.

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