Canadians tolerate white racism against blacks, even in Toronto.

Reactions to racism not as strong as we think, study finds:

While most people believe they would not tolerate a racist act, a new study from Canadian and U.S. researchers found test subjects in an experiment reacted with indifference when exposed to one.

Researchers in Toronto recruited 120 non-black York University students for what they said was a psychology study. Half of the students were each put in a room with two actors — one white and one black — posing as other participants.

The black actor then left the room to retrieve a cellphone, lightly bumping the other actor on the way out. The white actor then responded in one of three ways, saying nothing, saying the phrase “I hate when black people do that” or uttering an offensive racial slur.

When the black actor returned, study participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire rating their emotional mood and then were asked to choose a partner for what they thought was the actual test.

The researchers found that in cases where the white actor made a racist comment, participants did not speak out, did not report any emotional distress and actually chose the white actor as a partner more often than the black actor.

These results stood in stark contrast to a second group of respondents who were asked who they would choose as a partner after having the situation described to them. These respondents overwhelmingly chose not to work with the white actor when a racist statement was uttered.

(Emphasis mine. Note that the second group is a randomly-separated control group, which is why the comparison is valid.)

Canadians are generally more liberal than Americans. Torontonians are generally more left-wing than the average Canadian. University students are generally more left-wing than people who are not university students. However, these university students from Toronto, Canada prefer to partner up with a white person after she/he made a racist remark.

Of course, this particular demographic is not more prone to tolerating racism than other groups. However, Canada is not a anti-racist sanctuary like many Canadians like to believe, and neither is Toronto. Racism is still a problem in Toronto, Canada, and merely stating that you are against racism is not enough.

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Anti-racism is not human relations programming.

White people often associate antiracism training with learning about and respecting the differences between white and non-white cultures, between Western culture and non-Western cultures. The goal behind this “cultural sensitivity” training is to ensure that white people do not unintentionally offend people of colour. I will refer to this type of training as human relations programming.

Essentially, for whites, the purpose of human relations programming is to minimize the possibility that people of colour would file a racial discrimination complaint against the company, or on the societal level, its purpose is to prevent a racial revolt or “race war”. Sometimes, a white person who feels guilty about racism attempts to be antiracist by being extra-nice to people of colour. In other cases, a white person who realizes that she did something racist to a person of colour will try to ameliorate the transgression by, again, being extra-nice. If the white person and the person of colour become on friendly terms, the white person may perceive that her racial transgression has been forgiven. If the white person believes that her racial transgression has been forgiven, it usually relieves her of her guilt and restores her self-identity as a “good person”.

However, the problem with this model is that racism is more than cultural misunderstandings between whites and non-whites; racism is more than just acts that offend people of colour. Racism is inequality, inequity, and injustice that are built into our society which values whites over non-whites. Racism is not “subjective”; it is “objective”. That is, racism is not perception; it is reality. There are real inconsistencies between how society treats whites and non-whites, and these inconsistencies are due to conscious and unconscious in-group/out-group categorization.

Racism is not just about personal relationship problems between white and non-white individuals due to racial differences. Racism is systemic. The problem is not difference; it is inequality. The solution to the problem is not to accept differences; the solution to the problem is to eliminate inequality.

White people use human relations programming to protect themselves from racial anger.

Some white people’s focus on and preoccupation with human relations programming appears to indicate a deep-seated, subconscious fear of an oncoming “race war”, in which people of colour will eventually revolt violently in response to centuries of white oppression. For white people who conflate antiracism with human relations programming, the worst outcome of systemic racial oppression is racial violence. In other words, white people who focus on human relations programming are concerned (subconsciously) with their own safety as a racial group, and their goal is to maintain social order. The current social order, of course, is the status quo that upholds white supremacy. Thus, to focus on human relations programming is to protect the white supremacist system from being overthrown, to placate people of colour with kind words and prevent them from rebelling.

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