Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

More on the lack of diversity among Australian politiciants:

Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world, but it’s a different story in the country’s politics, where 96% of federal lawmakers are white.

With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.

Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.

The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.

Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.

It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.

Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.

Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.

“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.

Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.

“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.

“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”

An insiders’ game

At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.

Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.

But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.

“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.

The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.

Racial representation: parliament v population. .  .

Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.

“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Progress in diverse political representation. .  .

So why hasn’t Australia changed?

Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.

Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.

Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.

But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.

Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.

His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.

Source: Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

McWhorter: ‘Racism’ Has Too Many Definitions. We Need Another Term.

Interesting distinction, between the individual and the systemic, and questions regarding the nexus between the two:

Since Saturday, the mass shooting in Buffalo has rarely left my mind. Ten innocent people killed at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Out of 13 people shot, 11 were Black. According to law enforcement, the man accused of shooting them, Payton Gendron, was motivated by racist hate. Erie County Sheriff John Garcia didn’t equivocate when he said, within hours, that it was a “straight up racially motivated hate crime.” Nor did Mayor Byron Brown when he said on Sunday that “this individual came here with the expressed purpose of taking as many Black lives as he possibly could.” It’s impossible not to be reminded of the 2015 massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., and, sorrowfully, we have no reason to think something like that won’t happen again.

Clearly, racism is not over in the United States.

I have reason to suppose, however, that there are more than a few who think that I am not aware of this. A heterodox thinker on race, as I and others are sometimes called, is often accused of thinking, “There’s no racism.” Or as more temperately inclined folks sometimes say to me, we underplay racism and seem not to understand that it’s still out there. As such, I as well as similarly minded Black thinkers such as Glenn Loury, Coleman Hughes, Wilfred Reilly, Orlando Patterson and Thomas Chatterton Williams are dealing in an alternate reality.

Much of this kind of impression is due to our questioning of how sweeping the use of the word “racism” has become, and I’d like to clarify, at a juncture like this, why I take issue with most strains of what is today called antiracism, despite the reality of racist violence.

The key difference is between outright bigotry and the more abstract operations of what we call “systemic racism.” Yes, there is a synergy between the two. But as the difficulty in our conversations about racism attests, there is a wide gulf between personal prejudice (Racism 1.0) and the societal and sociohistorical operations that render Black physicists, for example, rare relative to Black people’s proportion of the population — Racism 2.0, sometimes even termed “white supremacy.” In an alternate universe, those two things might not go under the same name.

On Racism 1.0, the lamentable thing is that I see no reason it will ever completely vanish, at least not in our lifetimes. Studies haverevealed that a degree of fear and distrust of “the other” exists in our species, for better or worse. Call it conservative of me, but I see little point in hoping that human nature will entirely change. Educated Westerners, especially, have already acquired a more robust habit of self-monitoring for racism than perhaps any humans in history. In our country, this habit noticeably gained traction in the 1960s. Some argue that white Americans need to go further, plumbing more deeply for subtle racist assumptions in their hearts. I understand the desire for it but wonder just how realistic that expectation is at this point.

I assume, with regret, that there will always be racists among us. As long as our gun laws make it easy to obtain assault-style weapons, there will be people, some mentally imbalanced and some just plain evil, who decide to commit mass shootings. There is no reason the hatred in people like this will mysteriously step around racism; the question would be why such people would not often be motivated by it. We live with this horror.

However, there isn’t enough of a nexus between this grim reality and disparities between Black people and white people — in, for example, wealth and educational opportunity — to gracefully put both under the general heading of “racism.” That is, we increasingly apply the term in reference both to violent hate crimes and to the fact that, for example, in the aggregate, Black students don’t perform as well on standardized tests as some of their counterparts. But while we tend to use the term “racism” for both things, it isn’t readily obvious to most how both prejudice and a differential in performance are versions of the same thing, referred to with one word. One of the thorniest aspects of today’s race debate is that we have come to apply that word to a spread of phenomena so vast as to potentially confuse even the best-intended of people.

As such, to be aware of a case like the Buffalo tragedy cannot be taken as making inevitable one’s support for antiracist initiatives such as reparations for slavery or taking funds away from the police in a given city. There may be arguments for such proposals, but the existence of outright bigotry and racist violence is not one of them.

Thus, I am chilled to my socks by what happened in Buffalo while also opposed to the ideology that challenges mainstream standards as “white,” sanctions the censure and dismissal of those who fail to adhere to fashionable tenets of antiracist doctrine, and condescends to Black people by encouraging exaggerated claims of injury. My position comes in full awareness that there remain people in our society who deeply despise Black people and Blackness.

There will always be those who see cases like this one, shake their heads and dismiss someone who sees things as I do with the thought: “And he thinks racism is over — yeah, right.” I can’t fix that, but I suspect I can get a little further with those who think heterodox Black thinkers are reasonable but still underplay the effects of racism. I don’t think we do. I am respectful toward, but skeptical of, potential arguments holding, for example, that acknowledging Racism 1.0 requires accepting the precepts of Racism 2.0. But I hope this newsletter shows, in line with the theme of a recent one I wrote, that my leeriness about how well that kind of argument could hold up is based on neither ignorance nor malevolence, but opinion.

Source: ‘Racism’ Has Too Many Definitions. We Need Another Term.

Le Québec «bashing» ou la tolérance à deux vitesses

Sigh. Not to mention the inverse, Canada bashing on the part of some intellectuals…

Le Canada se drape de tolérance envers les minorités — tout en assumant des épisodes de Québec bashing, devenus chroniques dans l’histoire des deux solitudes. Ce paradoxe, commun au monde anglo-saxon, remonte à l’origine même du libéralisme britannique, estime Patrick Moreau, professeur au collège Ahuntsic qui participait, mercredi, à un colloque consacré à « la condescendance francophobe en contexte canadien ».

« Les sociétés anglo-saxonnes en général — et la société canadienne en particulier — se présentent toujours comme très libérales, très à cheval sur les droits individuels et la tolérance, explique M. Moreau, qui collabore par ailleurs à la section Idées du Devoir. En même temps, elles ont souvent, à travers l’histoire, connu des accès d’intolérance. »

Pour le professeur, invité à prendre la parole au congrès de l’Acfas mercredi, « le ver est dans le fruit » depuis la naissance de la tolérance religieuse proclamée au XVIIe siècle par le pouvoir anglican. « L’Angleterre autorisait toutes les sectes protestantes, ce qui était exceptionnel en Europe, à l’époque. En revanche, cette tolérance excluait les catholiques et les athées. Nous sommes tolérants, mais pas à l’égard de toutes et de tous. »

Ce même réflexe s’applique encore aujourd’hui envers le Québec, maintient le professeur Moreau. Le Canada anglais prétend accueillir et célébrer les différences. Sauf certaines, souvent québécoises.

« Dès qu’on nous montre la diversité canadienne, il faut qu’on nous montre une femme voilée, un turban, etc., poursuit le chercheur, en entrevue au Devoir. Comme si la seule différence admissible était en réalité superficielle. Si les Québécois se contentaient d’être une minorité parmi d’autres, arborant la ceinture fléchée lors de la Saint-Jean, le Canada s’en réjouirait et les tolérerait comme il tolère n’importe quel costume de n’importe quelle minorité ethnique ou religieuse. »

Or, le Québec dérange au point de devenir intolérable, soutient M. Moreau, parce que la différence qu’il revendique réfute la suprématie du modèle anglo-saxon.

« Ce qui est inacceptable aux yeux du Canada anglais, c’est cette volonté du Québec de faire société en français et selon des termes politiques qui ne sont pas ceux de la philosophie politique anglo-saxonne. Autrement dit, de revendiquer des droits linguistiques collectifs. […] La laïcité, c’est un peu la même chose, poursuit le professeur Moreau. On refuse, au Canada anglais, de voir la laïcité comme un modèle légitime de gestion de la diversité. On veut à tout prix y voir l’expression d’une intolérance ethnique à l’égard des autres minorités religieuses. »

Un Québec bashing progressiste

Cette discrimination à l’égard des francophones, M. Moreau note qu’elle a évolué au tournant du XXIe siècle. « La francophobie canadienne était, jusque dans les années 2000, plutôt conservatrice. C’était vraiment une francophobie coloniale issue d’un sentiment de supériorité très britannique et protestant à l’égard de Canadiens français, jugés arriérés, et catholiques, en plus. »

Plus récemment, avance le chercheur, « nous sommes passés à un Québec bashing progressiste, c’est-à-dire que nous allons reprocher au Québec d’être intolérant à l’égard des minorités, de créer une discrimination à l’égard des minorités, donc finalement de refuser les normes du multiculturalisme trudeauiste actuel. »

La saga entourant l’Université d’Ottawa et l’usage du mot en « n » dans une salle de cours a jeté une lumière crue sur le paradoxe de la tolérance canadienne envers ses minorités, insiste le professeur de littérature au collège Ahuntsic. « Il y a eu un glissement que je trouve personnellement assez épatant de la part de gens qui se prétendent fondamentalement antiracistes, mais qui vont insulter des professeurs en les traitant de fucking frogs. Bref, en utilisant un vocabulaire qui est très clairement raciste. »

À son avis, le Québec bashing a encore de beaux jours devant lui. Tant mieux, souligne-t-il, puisque sa disparition voudrait dire la fin d’un Québec qui revendique son droit à faire société autrement.

« Le jour où le Québec bashing va disparaître, ce ne sera pas vraiment une bonne nouvelle pour le Québec, avance M. Moreau. Ça voudra dire, je pense, que le Québec aura renoncé à faire société d’une façon différente du Canada. Autrement dit, il aura adopté le modèle dominant du libéralisme canadien. À ce moment-là, il sera devenu acceptable », conclut le professeur.

Source: Le Québec «bashing» ou la tolérance à deux vitesses

‘Clearly there are stories we’re not telling’: Study seeks to improve diversity in news sources

Will be interesting to see the results, hopefully with some qualitative analysis of the differences in perspectives covered. One can see some of this shift occurring in the CBC:

For all the prodding, encouragement and reminders, progress to improve the diversity of voices in news stories seems frustratingly slow.

Now a project involving national news agency The Canadian Press and Carleton University’s School of Journalism is hoping to get a better understanding of who gets quoted, and provide a catalyst for change.

CP has teamed with the journalism school to “identify, track and analyze” the choice of interview subjects by its journalists. The goal is to track the diversity of individuals — or lack of, as a news release pointedly notes — based on gender, race and ethnicity and other equity-seeking groups.

Joanna Smith, CP’s Ottawa bureau chief, is the impetus behind the work. The goal, she emphasizes, is not simply to diversify sources. The goal is the better journalism that comes when news coverage is truly representative.

“Over and over again, we are returning to the same sources in TV and journalism, the same largely white, largely male, largely institution-based” people, Smith said. “The idea of broadening the diversity of our sources is really about telling bigger and better and different stories.” 

(Disclosure: Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, is a part owner of The Canadian Press).

Nana aba Duncan, who holds the Carty Chair in Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies at the journalism school, said a journalist’s first choice for an interview is often someone they’ve worked with or someone they know. It’s likely that source is not from an under-represented group.

“Our first thought is what is the easiest and what is the quickest?” Duncan said. “Anything that has to do with change has to be intentional.”

That’s why research is vital to track who is being quoted — and who is being left out. “We absolutely have to do it or else it just doesn’t get done,” said Duncan, a former CBC broadcaster who is part of the project research team.

Duncan says it’s also important how those voices are framed and treated in the story. Are we engaging people for their expertise, such as economics or politics, or only for their race or gender? Where are these voices appearing in the story? Are they making the news or reacting to it?

“You may have an experience in which you are undermined or … your value is just not recognized. That has an effect,” she said. 

Professor Allan Thompson, the head of the journalism school, says the lack of diversity in news articles speaks to the “embedded bias” that exist in newsrooms and journalism.

To him, diversity is about fact-checking and accuracy. “Unless the sourcing reflects society, then it’s not accurate, even if all the words are verbatim,” Thompson said.

“We’re knitting some cloth that is the narrative of our society. If we’re only using one cross-section of voices, then clearly there are stories we’re not telling, there are perspectives on stories that we’re not capturing, and we’re just self-perpetuating our own version of a narrative,” he said.

Shari Graydon, director of Informed Opinions, has been working for years to get more women’s voices into news coverage. (The organization provides a searchable database of more than 2,200 women experts, so there’s no excuse for journalists to exclude them.)

Its online “Gender Gap Tracker” shows the percentage of female sources in online news coverage by major news outlets. It measures all stories, such as those filed by news agencies, rather than those written solely by an outlet’s own journalists alone. Over the last 12 months, sources quoted in stories on the Star’s website have been overwhelmingly male (74 per cent) versus female (26 per cent). 

Graydon said that a diversity of sources in news coverage is a hallmark of good journalism. “I really think awareness is not remotely enough,” she said, urging record-keeping as a precaution against the self-delusion one is doing better than they really are. 

Lasting change requires deliberate action. Journalists have control over the sources they choose to interview. As a start, they should review their last 10 stories. Who was quoted? Going forward, the objective is to cultivate more representative sources and track that work. 

Duncan emphasizes that media outlets must support such efforts. “It’s on the institution saying, ‘We care about this. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to spend money on caring about diversity and being intentional about it,’” she said.

This project, due to unfold over the coming months, promises to improve the diversity of sources used in CP articles, which would benefit all news organizations that rely on its coverage. I’m hopeful it will offer lessons all newsrooms can draw on.

Source: ‘Clearly there are stories we’re not telling’: Study seeks to improve diversity in news sources

Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Of note, political virtue signalling for the right, with risks of possible backlash. Proposal is intrinsically deplorable:

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, signed what was known as the Texas DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition rates to young undocumented students as long as they were state residents for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and promised to apply for permanent residency.

Two decades later, immigration politics in Texas have been completely transformed. Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for the Supreme Courtto strike down the 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling that forces states to pay for the education of undocumented children.

Speaking on a conservative radio show, Abbott said Texas already sued the federal government long ago over having to incur the costs of the education program.

“And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue,” Abbott said. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago.”

In light of the report that the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade and reverse long-enshrined federal abortion protections, Democrats and activists privately worry that efforts like Abbott’s are not the fantasy they would have seemed just six months ago, but could actually become reality in the near future.

But they argue Abbott’s gambit could backfire, as a similar campaign did after the passage of California’s infamous Proposition 187 in 1994 signed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, including public education.

After all, “Prop 187,” which only survived five years, had unintended consequences. Not only did it fail in discouraging immigrants from seeking services, it also helped to create a mobilized Latino electorate that proved to be a major factor in turning California blue.

Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist, worked in California GOP politics and considers Wilson a friend. But he says the fallout from Prop 187 could serve as a warning for Texas Republicans.

“The legacy of 187 was to create a generational voting bloc of Latinos against the Republican Party that would not normally happen,” Madrid said, adding that California was then experiencing the rightward shift Texas is experiencing now. “That changed substantially because of these attacks on the community. Once attacked, Latinos rally.”

In California, the Latino share of the electorate nearly doubled at the time and support for Republicans crumbled, a far cry from the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan garnered 48% of the Hispanic vote. When Bob Dole ran in 1996, he received a paltry 6% of the Latino vote.

Julissa Arce, an activist and author of the new book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation,” told Newsweek she was once an undocumented student in Texas when she lived in the state from age 11 to 21.

“Thank God no one was questioning how I got there,” she said. But fear was always present. “I never wanted to go talk to my counselor, afraid they might look at my documents.”

Abbott’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear, Arce said, particularly in a state where nearly 53% of public school students are Hispanic.

The end of the state educating undocumented kids would likely include echoes of the chaos of Prop 187, with school administrators having to ask children about the immigration status of their parents, and parents who have both undocumented and U.S.-citizen children pulling their kids from school.

Abbott has tacked to the right during his reelection campaign in an effort to energize his primary voters, often around issues concerning immigration and education. He sent buses of migrants to Washington DC, a message to the Biden administration to deal with a problem he feels it has made worse.

Last week, Abbott slammed the Biden administration for providing baby formula to immigrants in holding facilities, “as American parents scramble amid a nationwide shortage of the product.”

John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told Newsweekthe Texas governor widely publicized moves are an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s shortcomings.

“I think the governor’s point is the federal government continues to fail in its responsibility of dealing with immigration, and Congress has failed for decades, so as a result states have had to deal with the fiscal responsibility of the issue,” he said. “The border and illegal immigration is something Texas has picked up the tab on.”

Arce called Abbott’s announcements “anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric” for a reelection campaign, but acknowledged “it feels different because he could really turn this into action as we’ve seen with Roe v. Wade, and this relitigation of things we thought had been settled.”

Source: Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Doyle: Tucker Carlson didn’t shoot anyone, but he’s monetizing white panic

Good column. Unethical business and financial strategy…

They’re lining up to condemn Tucker Carlson of Fox News and understandably so. That shooter, a self-declared white supremacist who killed 10 people in Buffalo, had reportedly posted an online manifesto espousing the Great Replacement theory, and Carlson is the biggest purveyor of that conspiracy belief.

The conspiracy theory is that non-white individuals are being deliberately brought into the United States (and other Western countries) to supplant white voters, in order to further a political agenda. It’s been around for decades, this crackpot theory, but Carlson is the one who mines it with cunning and determination. He’s touched on it often and sometimes been more brazen.

On one of his shows in April, Carlson said: “I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually.”

Moral condemnation of Carlson is in order. He knows what he’s doing. (His use of key words is telling, and we note Pierre Poilievre aims anger at various “gatekeepers” while campaigning for the leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party.) But there’s context to take into account. First, Carlson is only the latest in a long list of demagogues in the United States who incite hate based on fear of non-white ethnicities. You don’t need to be a historian to be aware of Huey Long, George Wallace and Pat Buchanan. You don’t need to be a student of U.S. media to know that there is a through-line going back from Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh to Father Charles Coughlin, the “radio priest” who had an audience of tens of millions in the 1930s, peddling anti-Semitism and fear about immigrants being “foreign invaders.”

The American tolerance of demagogues who incite hate is an anomaly in Western countries. But the matter was settled decades ago when First Amendment rights were solidified by the courts and all kinds of commentary and assertions were allowed to participate in what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. called, “the marketplace of ideas.”

Carlson is an entrepreneur in that marketplace, as is his employer, Fox News, mining white panic and other alarmist ideas for profit. It’s just business and it’s not new.

What is new is the absence of truly mass media and entertainment. Carlson may only have a tiny fraction of the audience that Father Coughlin once had, but he’s stirring up what exists in the dark corners of the internet, mainly unseen. And there is very little to counter what Carlson is stirring up. The remaining remnants of mass-appeal news and entertainment outlets shine their lights on a sunlit America, not its dark subculture corners. Network TV and cable channels cling on to smaller audiences than before, and only live sports seem capable of engaging a mass audience. If there’s no mass audience, then the expectation of a mass revulsion at Tucker Carlson is futile.

A lot of Americans have no idea that Carlson might be connected to the mass shooting in Buffalo. You don’t have to be a TV critic to understand that Fox News now exists in a shattered landscape in which there is simply too much TV – more and more streaming services producing more content than anyone can catch up with, plus network TV, cable and an array of web services. There’s no national narrative, there are only sparks flying occasionally that briefly illuminate very dark spaces.

While Fox News monetizes white fear of change, other outlets monetize escapism. There have been few attempts to dramatize or illustrate the dangers of racist subcultures. One of the few, HBO’s Watchmen, was very powerful but probably had more critical accolades than it had engaged viewers. The same applies to HBO’s Lovecraft Country, and both present structural racism in the context of an alternative reality or the supernatural. The movies of Jordan Peele, Get Out and Us, treat racial paranoia with seriousness, but they are outlier entertainment in a world of Marvel superheroes.

One could take comfort in the fact that Grey’s Anatomy has been going for 18 seasons in part because it looks like the United States; the diversity of characters is striking and over the years it simply became steadily more and more inclusive. Right now, mind you, diversity is the devil that Fox News and Tucker Carlson are warning viewers about. And there’s more money to made from that in a media and entertainment landscape shattered beyond recognition. That’s the important context.

Source: Tucker Carlson didn’t shoot anyone, but he’s monetizing white panic

Diversity of Asian Americans shatters the “model minority myth”

Interesting breakdowns that are comparable to some of the Canadian breakdowns (where we have the advantage of greater desegregation among Asian Canadians (South Asians, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asians and West Asians):

Asian Americans hail from dozens of countries — and their experiences in America are starkly different depending on their origins.

Why it matters: This vast, diverse group is often lumped together under the “model minority myth” — the stereotype that all Asian Americans are well-educated, wealthy and successful.

  • If you look at averages, Asian Americans appear to be richer and better educated than the average American.
  • If you disaggregate the data, the model minority myth crumbles. We see high levels of poverty and below-average levels of educational attainment.

But because that data is seldom disaggregated, “Asian Americans have had to make the case over and over again that they suffer from racism and hostility and violence,” says Ellen Wu, a history professor at Indiana University.

The big picture: The U.S. Asian American population doubled from 2000 to 2019, hitting 22 million. Asians are the fastest-growing group in America — outpacing white, Black and Hispanic Americans and projected to pass 46 million by 2060, according to the Pew Research Center.

  • “They all have very different starting points,” says Neil Ruiz, associate director of race and ethnicity research at the Pew Research Center.
  • Consider, for example, an Indian immigrant who comes to the U.S. via H-1B visa for a high-paying gig at a tech company. That person will have a far easier time building generational wealth than a Burmese refugee coming to America to escape conflict, Ruiz says.

By the numbers: The median income of Asian households in the U.S is $85,800, and 54% have college degrees, per Pew.

  • But only three groups — Indians, Filipinos and Sri Lankans — fall above that household income. And college attainment for many groups is well below the average.

The stakes: “So many groups have been neglected and ignored,” says Quyên Dinh, executive director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

  • “People are not always convinced that Asian Americans are a legitimate minority group that deserve to be included in affirmative action and diversity initiatives,” says Wu.
  • For example, 30% of Southeast Asians — a region encompassing nations like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos — don’t have high school degrees.
  • “Because of the model minority myth, these students’ silence in classrooms is misinterpreted as understanding instead of a cry for help,” Dinh says.

What to watch: Activists and experts see a silver lining in the recent spikes in anti-Asian violence. “There is a new spotlight on the Asian American community,” says Dinh.

  • “Awful things have always happened,” Wu says. “But now Asians are collecting the data and recording what’s happening, and Asian journalists are amplifying these stories.”

Source: Diversity of Asian Americans shatters the “model minority myth”

[Canadian] Military failing to remove barriers to diversifying ranks: ombudsman

Long-standing challenge:

Canada’s military ombudsman is joining the chorus of those accusing the Canadian Armed Forces and Defence Department of failing to address long-standing barriers to recruit and retain more women, visible minorities and Indigenous people.

Gregory Lick says in a new report that the military and department have adopted numerous initiatives over the last 20 years to increase the share of Armed Forces members who come from those underrepresented groups.

The moves followed several human-rights decisions and the passage of employment equity laws, amid a growing disconnect between the makeup of the military, predominantly composed of white males, and the rest of the country’s population.

Yet the ombudsman found those initiatives resulted in little progress on increasing representation from underrepresented groups, with the military consistently falling far short of its own targets.

“I am adamant that in order to not repeat the same mistakes, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces need to do things differently,” Lick said in a statement Monday.

“Fresh and creative thinking is required. Rehashing former initiatives simply will not cut it. Period. We will continue to monitor developments within the defence community in order to inform our own next steps on this matter.”

The ombudsman’s report comes weeks after a panel of retired Armed Forces members released the results of its own review, which took the military to task for not acting on dozens of previous studies and reviews of racism in the organization.

The scathing anti-racism report, which followed a yearlong review ordered by then-defence minister Harjit Sajjan, also accused the military of not doing enough to detect and prevent white supremacists and other extremists from infiltrating its ranks.

Lick’s review, also requested by Sajjan, looked at efforts to increase the share of women, visible minorities and Indigenous people in the Defence Department and military since becoming subject to employment equity laws in 1997 and 2002, respectively.

It specifically noted the military’s failure to make any real progress toward its various targets, which include having 25.1 per cent of all Armed Forces members be women, 11.8 per cent be visible minorities and 3.5 per cent Indigenous people.

“Despite the CAF’s efforts over the past 19 years, the percentage of women members stagnated until 2019, when a one-per-cent increase brought that representation level to 16 per cent of all CAF members,” the report reads.

“The limited increase in Aboriginal peoples (2.8 per cent) and visible minority members (9.6 per cent) has not been sufficient to keep up with Canadian demographics,” it adds.

The report goes on to note that not only has the Armed Forces failed to achieve its targets, but that those targets have been repeatedly criticized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and others as far too low given the country’s changing composition.

The Defence Department reported more success in terms of diversifying its civilian workforce, but nonetheless faced many of the same challenges.

The ombudsman reported that his office had received 931 complaints relating to recruitment and 879 complaints involving promotions or career advancement since 2010. Another 189 workplace discrimination complaints were received.

“While designated employment equity groups did not submit all these complaints and not all would have been deemed to be unfair, these numbers show that the DND and CAF face challenges to the provision of fair and equitable employment,” he wrote.

The ombudsman noted numerous barriers to the recruitment of Armed Forces members from the designated groups had been reported over the years, including language requirements, security-clearance delays and a lack of representation among recruiters.

The review also noted that because military personnel have to start at the bottom and work their way up, fixing the recruitment process is a critical first step. Concerns were nonetheless also identified around retention and promotions.

Lick emphasized the importance of addressing the problem given what he described as a growing need for a diverse force that reflects Canadian society and is able to operate in new and innovative ways.

“With the CAF currently operating at a deficit of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 regular and reserve force members and thousands of positions unfilled in the civilian ranks, a crisis is slowly emerging,” he said.

“Critical to the ongoing success of the DND and the CAF is ensuring that people of diverse backgrounds consider a career in these organizations and see themselves reflected in their mandates.”

While past reports and reviews have proposed a number of measures to address the problems, Lick echoed the anti-racism panel’s findings about a lack of action, saying: “It is unclear whether the CAF has implemented all these initiatives.”

Although Defence Minister Anita Anand was given four weeks to respond to the ombudsman’s report before its public release, Lick said he had yet to receive a response. The Defence Department did not immediately comment Monday.

Source: Military failing to remove barriers to diversifying ranks: ombudsman

Statistics Canada: Portrait of the social, political and economic participation of racialized groups

No real surprises in this useful overview but important to have:

In response to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, Statistics Canada’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics is releasing an initial set of 13 data tables on social inclusion. Nearly 100 indicators can now be used to examine various socioeconomic facets of racialized groups. 

The concept of racialized population is measured with the ‘visible minority’ variable in this release. ‘Visible minority’ refers to whether or not a person belongs to one of the visible minority groups defined by the Employment Equity Act. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour” (for more details, please refer to Note to readers). 

These indicators provide valuable information to develop policies to combat racism and discrimination, and they reflect the agency’s commitment to greater insights through the use of disaggregated data. The new data sheds light on the unique experiences of racialized Canadians, whether they immigrated to Canada or were born in the country.

The indicators published today are organized into a wider framework of themes for measuring social inclusion within Canada’s diverse population. The themes are the following: participation in the labour market; civic engagement and political participation; representation in decision-making positions; basic needs and housing; health and well-being; education, training and skills; income and wealth; social connections and personal networks; local community; public services and institutions; and discrimination and victimization.

This article provides an overview of social inclusion of racialized populations under the two themes: civic engagement and political participation, and representation in decision-making positions. It looks at key indicators of participation in community groups and organizations, representation in senior management, and voting in elections and political engagement. The analysis focuses on the seven largest racialized groups in Canada: South Asian; Chinese; Black; Filipino; Latin American; Arab; and Southeast Asian Canadians.

The findings show that while the rates of civic participation of racialized Canadians are generally similar to the rest of the population, their representation in management positions is considerably lower, and their voter turnout and political engagement are somewhat lower compared with other Canadians. There are also important differences amongst the racialized groups on these measures of social inclusion.

Source for full report with tables: Portrait of the social, political and economic participation of racialized groups

Let Actors Act

Good commentary:

Adrian Lester, a British actor from Birmingham and the son of two immigrants from Jamaica, was nominated last week for a Tony Award for his performance in “The Lehman Trilogy” as Emanuel Lehman, one of the German-born Jewish founders of the fallen investment behemoth Lehman Brothers. Lester, like the other actors in the three-man play, takes on several parts, including female characters and at one point, a thumb-sucking toddler.

There has been no outcry about a British actor of African descent playing a German Jew, nor was there any fuss when he played Bobby, a character traditionally performed by white actors, in a London production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” for which he won an Olivier.

And why should there have been? It’s called acting.

There was no protest either about Lester’s co-star Simon Russell Beale, born to British parents in what was then British Malaya and a former chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, playing a German Jew. Adam Godley, the third actor in the play, is Jewish in real life, but he’s also gay — not so in the play. Again, it’s called acting, and Beale and Godley were also nominated for Tony Awards last week.

And yet countless actors have been criticized for playing people they do not resemble in real life.

Earlier this year, Helen Mirren was lambasted for portraying Golda Meir, a former prime minister of Israel, in a forthcoming biopic even though she’s not Jewish — engaging in what is now called “Jewface.” In a recent interview defending Mirren, Ian McKellen (who incidentally has played everything from a wizard to a cat) asked, “Is the argument that a straight man cannot play a gay part, and if so, does that mean I can’t play straight parts?” He went on: “Surely not. We’re acting. We’re pretending.”

Daring to take on parts different from oneself didn’t always kick up a storm. Back in 1993 when Tom Hanks played a gay character in “Philadelphia,” he was hailed as brave for taking on homophobia and won an Oscar. Today, his performance no longer plays so well in some quarters. “Straight men playing gay — everyone wants to give them an award,” the performer Billy Porter complained in a 2019 actor’s round table. Yet many of our best gay, lesbian and bisexual actors — Jodie Foster, Alan Cumming, Kristen Stewart, Nathan Lane — have won awards for straight roles without even a murmur of complaint.

What we are effectively saying here — without ever, heaven forbid, saying it out loud — is that it’s OK for actors from groups considered to be marginalized — whether gay, Indigenous, Latino or any other number of identities — to play straight white characters. But it’s not OK for the reverse.

Such double standards may not trouble you. But if it’s a problem that a “miscast” actor — one who differs in identity from the character — takes a role away from a “properly cast” actor when there are already fewer roles for underrepresented or marginalized groups, then why not condemn Simon Russell Beale for taking a job from a Jewish actor? Why no outcry every time a 40-something actress bends biology to play the mothers of 25-year-old actresses, robbing older actresses who more plausibly fit the part?

If, however, the real problem is actors not being able to understand what it feels like to be part of a demographic group or to have a sexual orientation outside the confines of their own experience, then none of these actors should be able to play anyone unlike themselves. In other words, no one should ever be allowed to play a part.

Hollywood has wisely moved on from the offensive extremes of blackface and Shylock stereotypes, “queeny” stock gay characters and Mickey Rooney’s embarrassing turn as a Japanese landlord in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” There is plenty of room in the middle without ricocheting to the other undesirable extreme.

It’s not that strict typecasting should never happen; it can yield rewarding opportunities for both actors and audiences. Behold the deaf performers in the Oscar-winning “Coda.”

But deaf performers can also act movingly in a musical like the 2015 Deaf West revival of “Spring Awakening,” which featured them in roles that were originally performed as hearing characters and performed simply as characters, neither explicitly hearing nor deaf, but transcendently human in their expression.

Likewise, in a recent revival of “Oklahoma!” Ali Stroker, who uses a wheelchair, was able to fully embody Ado Annie, who spends much of her time in the movie and previous stage versions swishing away from her suitor, Will Parker, just as Daniel Day-Lewis once captured, with extraordinary sensitivity in “My Left Foot,” the wheelchair-bound writer and painter Christy Brown.

Good actors are able to find a way to portray people who are not like themselves, whether on the surface or well below, which is what differentiates them from those of us who could barely remember our lines in a fourth-grade production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Acting is a feat of compassion and an act of generosity. Those capable of that kind of emotional ventriloquy enable audiences to find ourselves in the lives portrayed onscreen, no matter how little they may resemble our own.

Bravo to those actors who do that well. Bravo to the talented Adrian Lester, who makes you forget the color of his skin, his nationality and his religion — and gives himself over entirely to his performance. There is no reason for any actor to apologize for exercising and reveling in his craft.

Source: Let Actors Act