Workers, mostly immigrants, organize unions in Silicon Valley.

A woman of color reads from a sheet of paper while another woman of color stands beside her.

Striker Maribel Garcia reads a statement from women who went on a hunger strike in a tent encampment on the sidewalk in front of one of Versatronex' biggest customers, Digital Microwave Corporation.

In Up Against the Open Shop – the Hidden Story of Silicon Valley’s High-Tech Workers, David Bacon writes:

On January 29, 1993, workers at the Versatronex plant in Sunnyvale, California, filed out of its doors for the last time. Seventeen years have passed since, but there are still electronics workers in Silicon Valley who remember the company’s name. It was the first Valley plant struck by production employees and the first where a strike won recognition of their union.

The struggle of these workers, almost all immigrants from Mexico, Central America and the Philippines, demolished some of the most cherished myths about the Silicon Valley workforce. It showed workers there are like workers everywhere. Under the right circumstances, even in the citadel of high tech’s open shop, people are willing to organize for a better life.

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Map of White Segregation/Enclaves in Toronto

Statistics Canada has a “thematic” map of the percentage of visible minorities in Toronto CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) in 2006. You can click on the map below to see a larger version. Generally, the lighter areas are where the whites live.

Toronto CMA. Percentage of Visible Minorities by 2006 Census Tracts (CTs). Map 2 of 2.

Toronto is a multi-racial city with a marshmallow centre (or two). The suburbs surrounding Toronto have a greater percentage of visible minorities, while large patches of Toronto’s core have been gentrified are inhabited by whites.

Note that some areas of Toronto are whiter than the national average, over 90% white.

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“Ofey” (Richard Feynman) on “the blacks”

Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988) was a famous theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize winner, and sexist. Feynman thought for himself and rebelled against social convention, tradition, and “The Man”. However, Feynman was also a white male professor, and his position with its associated privileges makes him “The Man” relative to those with fewer privileges.

In his amusing autobiography, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, chapter But Is It Art?, Feyman writes:

So I decided to sell my drawings. However, I didn’t want people to buy my drawings because the professor of physics isn’t supposed to be able to draw, isn’t that wonderful, so I made up a false name. My friend Dudley Wright suggested “Au Fait,” which means “It is done” in French. I spelled it O-f-e-y, which turned out to be a name the blacks used for “whitey.” But after all, I was whitey, so it was all right.

While Feynman recognizes that he is “whitey”—which suggests a greater sophistication than that of many white liberals today—his usage of the objectifying and homogenizing term “the blacks” reveals his racial insularity in the context of the United States. He received his Bachelor’s degree, PhD, and professorships before laws against racial segregation were passed in the 1960s. There is no doubt that Feynman was an exceptionally brilliant individual, but he was also a beneficiary of institutional racism and white privilege.

White people are more segregated than minorities.

When most white people talk about segregated communities, they think of communities with many black people or other racial minorities. Most white people believe that minorities have mostly same-race friends and that they need to be racially integrated with the rest of society. However, this is a false assumption based white people’s tendency to notice people’s race only when the people are not white. The typical white person notices race when passing through communities of colour, but she rarely thinks about race when she is surrounded by all white people. If the typical white person is in a group setting with mostly white people but one or two token non-white people, the typical white person perceives the group as “diverse”.

If the typical white person is interested in reality instead of her personal observations (which would be prone to her subconscious racial biases), she may discover that her worldview is distorted. Yet another study, Campus Diversity Important Predictor Of Interracial Friendships, shows that of all racial groups, whites are the most segregated:

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly found that campus racial and ethnic diversity is important in predicting friendship heterogeneity, and that minorities have higher predicted friendship diversity than whites.

[…]

As school diversity rises, predicted friendship diversity also increases, although whites still have lower predicted levels of friendship diversity than minorities. However, this relationship shifts as schools become more diverse, with whites having nearly as diverse friendship networks as minorities on the most diverse campuses.

These studies that show that whites are the most segregated are important, because white people often criticize minorities for living in so-called “ethnic enclaves”.

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Africentric education is not black segregation.

Toronto’s Africentric school is open for everyone, not just black students. This is not racial segregation. Everyone needs an Africentric education.

The Africentric grade school will seek to hire a number of black teachers and use a more global, less Europe-focused curriculum to engage more students of colour. It will be open to children of all backgrounds from anywhere in the city.

Currently, our public grade schools are Eurocentric in focus, and children of all colours are led to believe that science, history, and technology starts and ends with Europe and European colonies. Eurocentric schools are not white-only schools. If you grew up in Canada, you had a Eurocentric education, not matter what colour you are.

If you believe that Africentrism is biased, you should also believe that Eurocentrism is biased. If you believe that Africentric education is biased and Eurocentric education is neutral, it means that your worldview is Eurocentric.

Unfortunately, too many Canadians fail to distinguish between “Africentric” and “black only”, and even some CBC news reporters think “Africentric” is interchangeable with “black-focused”. This creates mass confusion among the general public, and instead of quality debate, the general Canadian public reveals the extent of its miseducation.

Gasman (53 people recommended this comment):

Wasn’t racial segregation deemed illegal in Canada? […]

swamprat (52 people recommended this comment):

Martin Luther King Jr. just rolled over in his grave.

CrystalP (35 people recommended this comment):

Why are there such double standards when it comes to “minorities”? If this were a push for an all white school there is no way that this would be approved.

I am proud that Canada is such a diverse country, I am all for promotion of equality and acceptance of different race/religion etc. but I’m white and I’m beginning to feel like I would have a better chance for success in this country if I wasn’t.

ntcMEAsh (22 people recommended this comment):

I really think we are taking a step backwards here…. Imagine the uproar if we re-introduce white only schools…. people would freak out.

RocWells (13 people recommended this comment):

[…] its wrong to seperate, shame on Toronto and whats really disturbing is that its young kids that are being seperated, what kind of lessons are we teaching them? […]

Davebo (11 people recommended this comment):

Why is Toronto promoting Apartheid?

Shouldn’t this so called school be illegal? How can this stand? What does parliament think of Canada becoming the new South Africa?

GaretS (10 people recommended this comment):

I bet nobody would back a white only school…

Puissance (9 people recommended this comment):

Is this a joke? Racial segregation? Who would vote for something like that? Children need to grow up in a multicultural environment.

JaniceRobinson (9 people recommended this comment):

[…] Black people, who have also experienced segregation/isolation in the past….now want to re-experience it?? […]

Jimbo5 (9 people recommended this comment):

Well let me get this straight …my TAX dollars are being used to fund a all black school. […]

No.

Unfortunately, the CBC site does not allow one to downvote comments.

The majority of commenters are arguing against a straw man. Thus, the discussion is unhelpful, and it makes the Canadian public look uneducated.

Here is a bonus stupid comment:

jblack (3 people recommended this comment):

ChrisSealy

I taught my children to be “color blind” when it comes to a person’s skin color…

Canadians shoudl all be “color blind” and then Canada will work well.

White people are the most segregated.

In American public schools, whites are the most segregated, while Asians are the least segregated.

The statistics from the 2000-2001 school year show that whites are the most segregated group in the nation’s public schools; they attend schools, on average, where eighty percent of the student body is white. The two regions where white students are more likely to attend substantially interracial schools are the South and West. Whites attending private schools are even more segregated than their public school counterparts.

This may be surprising at first for some white people who are unconscious of the pervasiveness of whiteness. However, this fact becomes unsurprising when given the quote above which racially frames a familiar sight or experience. Most racial minorities in North America live in metropolitan areas that are typically racially diverse, while more white people are spread out in suburban and rural areas that are overwhelmingly white.

However, on seeing a group of white people, most North Americans would not categorize the experience as seeing a “group of white people”, but the group would instead be remembered as just a “group of people”. On the other hand, people will see and remember a “group of Asians” or “group of black people” because minority races are foregrounded against the white-race background. The bias to remember relatively unusual instances makes it seem like non-whites are more segregated than whites.

Michael Kimmel’s article “Toward a Pedagogy of the Oppressor” discusses the invisibility of whiteness and the invisibility of privilege in general.

To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor,” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a “colleague.” A white person will be happy to tell you about a “black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in the title is, de facto, a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history,” or “political science.”

It is ironic when some white individuals accuse racial minorities, especially Asians, of being especially segregated. This is not reality, but this myth is rarely challenged in discussions where the participants are mostly whites unconscious of their whiteness.