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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British employers racially discriminate against job applicants with African and Asian names.

Undercover job hunters reveal huge race bias in Britain’s workplaces (18 October 2009):

A government sting operation targeting hundreds of employers across Britain has uncovered widespread racial discrimination against workers with African and Asian names.

Researchers sent nearly 3,000 job applications under false identities in an attempt to discover if employers were discriminating against jobseekers with foreign names. Using names recognisably from three different communities – Nazia Mahmood, Mariam Namagembe and Alison Taylor – false identities were created with similar experience and qualifications. Every false applicant had British education and work histories.

They found that an applicant who appeared to be white would send nine applications before receiving a positive response of either an invitation to an interview or an encouraging telephone call. Minority candidates with the same qualifications and experience had to send 16 applications before receiving a similar response.

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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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