Benoit Charette devient le ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme

While hampered by his government’s refusal to recognize systemic racism, he and the government will be judged more by any concrete improvements they are able to realize:

Le premier ministre François Legault compte sur son nouveau ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme, Benoit Charette, pour poser des « gestes concrets » pour combattre la discrimination, mais aussi pour sensibiliser les Québécois « de souche » aux périls du racisme.

« Ce n’est pas parce que quelqu’un est parmi le groupe qui est victime que nécessairement, la personne est mieux placée pour lutter », a fait valoir M. Legault pour justifier son choix de ministre. « On s’adresse entre autres aux personnes qui font partie des Québécois qu’on appelle blancs, ou “de souche”, pour qu’eux autres — s’il y en a une minorité qu’on doit faire changer d’idée — [puissent] poser des actions. »

M. Legault a ensuite rappelé sa volonté de voir davantage de représentants des minorités visibles ou des nations autochtones dans les conseils d’administration. « C’est ça qu’on veut : que ceux qui sont en situation de pouvoir traitent de la même façon les représentants des minorités visibles et les Autochtones », a-t-il affirmé.

En entrevue au Devoir, Benoit Charette a réfuté les informations voulant que ses collègues Lionel Carmant et Nadine Girault aient d’abord été approchés pour occuper les fonctions qui lui ont été dévolues. Or, diverses sources sûres ont confirmé au Devoir que les deux ministres — qui faisaient partie du Groupe d’action contre le racisme (GACR), contrairement à M. Charette — ont refusé le mandat, après réflexion, en raison de leur emploi du temps chargé. Quant au ministre responsable des Affaires autochtones, Ian Lafrenière, sa nomination avait déjà suscité de fortes réactions, et son réseau de contacts auprès des communautés culturelles n’est pas aussi développé que celui de son collègue.

À l’annonce de sa nomination, Benoit Charette a dit de la lutte contre le racisme qu’il s’agissait d’un « dossier qui lui tient à cœur depuis longtemps ». Il a rappelé qu’il est en couple avec une femme d’origine haïtienne et que ses enfants sont « métissés ».

Au Devoir, il a déclaré que la question du racisme systémique anime parfois des échanges qu’il a avec ses enfants. « Ce sont des discussions que nous avons à la maison de manière très franche et ouverte », a-t-il déclaré. « Mon garçon, il y a quelques mois à peine, a eu un premier emploi et a été confronté à une situation moins agréable, donc ce sont des situations qui peuvent être bouleversantes », a-t-il illustré.

Lui-même a dit être sensible aux enjeux d’inclusion des personnes racisées, notamment dans les plus hautes sphères de l’État. Il a toutefois reconnu ne pas avoir nommé d’Autochtones ou de personnes issues des communautés culturelles à la tête des sociétés relevant du ministère qu’il dirige depuis deux ans. « C’est pour très bientôt », a-t-il assuré, en évoquant un « renouvellement clé » qui sera annoncé dans quelques semaines.

Pas question de reconnaître le racisme systémique

À l’instar du premier ministre, Benoit Charette a rejeté les appels à une reconnaissance du racisme systémique, puisque le concept est à son avis « mal défini » et surtout, « à l’origine de beaucoup de confusion ». Ni la définition proposée par la Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) ni celle de la discrimination systémique formulée par la commission Viens ne lui conviennent. « C’est l’interprétation que plusieurs en font, malgré cet exercice-là [qui pose problème], a-t-il affirmé.  Le système est là pour protéger les citoyens. »

Pour preuve, il a évoqué une expérience de discrimination qu’il a vécue, il y a plus de 20 ans, lorsque sa femme et lui se sont fait refuser l’accès à un logement. Après une dénonciation à la CDPDJ et au bout de trois ans de démarches, il a obtenu gain de cause et le propriétaire a été condamné.

Pour M. Charette, le débat sur le racisme systémique « donne un faux sentiment de sécurité [et permet] de rejeter la faute sur l’autre ». « Mais en matière de racisme, on peut tous — qu’on soit noir, blanc, peu importe notre origine — alimenter certains préjugés. Donc si on se replie uniquement derrière un concept qui est très vague, qui est mal défini, ça nous enlève un peu une responsabilité qui nous revient », a-t-il plaidé.

Lui-même a dit avoir été victime non pas de racisme, mais de « méconnaissance et de préjugés » lorsqu’il a voyagé dans des pays où il se trouvait en « situation minoritaire ». « Peu importe la couleur de notre peau, peu importe nos origines, nous sommes tous susceptibles d’alimenter un racisme, d’alimenter certains préjugés à l’égard de certaines communautés ou de certains groupes, donc la solution est en partie à l’intérieur de chacun d’entre nous », a-t-il affirmé.

Un ministre capable d’agir ?

À ses côtés, le premier ministre a dit s’attendre à « une bonne réponse » de la part des communautés culturelles au sujet de cette annonce. « J’ai l’impression que si j’avais nommé quelqu’un qui est membre des minorités, on aurait dit : “Ben on le sait bien, il l’a nommée parce qu’il est membre d’une minorité”, a-t-il affirmé.  Pourtant, c’est tous les Québécois qui doivent lutter contre le racisme. Donc je pense que ce qui était le plus important, c’était de trouver une personne qui a le dossier à cœur et qui est habituée à agir. »

Or, là n’est pas la plus grande force de Benoit Charette, s’est inquiétée la cheffe libérale Dominique Anglade. « L’engagement et la capacité d’agir, ce n’est pas ce qu’il a démontré par le passé. C’est une chose d’être sensible aux enjeux, c’en est une autre de montrer qu’on est capables d’agir et ce n’est certainement pas ce qu’on a vu en matière environnementale », a-t-elle affirmé au Devoir. Pour elle, la nomination de M. Charette n’est ni plus ni moins qu’un geste de distraction de la part du gouvernement, qui cherche à attirer l’attention ailleurs que sur le dossier du tramway ou sur la diffusion d’avis de la Santé publique.

Mme Anglade a notamment déploré le fait que le ministre Charette s’en soit remis à sa collègue à la Sécurité publique, Geneviève Guilbault, lorsqu’un journaliste lui a demandé s’il comptait interdire les interpellations aléatoires, comme l’a recommandé le GACR.

Manon Massé, de Québec solidaire, a dit de Benoit Charette qu’il était « le ministre que le PM envoie dormir sur la switch ». « Il a tellement le pied sur le frein pour lutter contre les changements climatiques, il est taillé sur mesure pour “lutter” contre le racisme systémique à la sauce caquiste : nier le problème et freiner les solutions », a-t-elle écrit sur Twitter.

« Avec cette nomination, le gouvernement nous confirme que Benoit Charette est le ministre des dossiers dont la CAQ ne reconnaît pas l’importance : le racisme et la lutte contre les changements climatiques », a ajouté son collègue Andrés Fontecilla.

Méganne Perry Mélançon, du Parti québécois, a quant à elle dit s’attendre à des actions rapides de la part du ministre. « Il y a plusieurs mesures concrètes qu’on peut appliquer rapidement pour lutter contre le racisme. Je pense entre autres à l’interdiction de la condition “première expérience canadienne de travail” et au CV anonyme. Je tends la main au ministre pour qu’on y travaille ensemble », a-t-elle réagi.

Le chef de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations Québec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, a quant à lui dit vouloir « laisser la chance au coureur ». Il s’est cependant inquiété de la nomination d’un « ministre à temps partiel ». « Il détient un portefeuille passablement important, donc ça laisse quelle place au racisme ? » a-t-il demandé.

En entrevue à Radio-Canada, l’entrepreneur Fabrice Vil s’est lui aussi dit inquiet de voir M. Charette délaisser « l’enjeu fondamental de la planète » qu’est l’environnement. « Et s’il était si compétent, pourquoi il n’était pas au Groupe d’action contre le racisme ? Pourquoi il n’était pas considéré à l’époque » a-t-il lancé, en précisant néanmoins qu’il ne souhaitait pas « exclure de facto » le ministre.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/595813/benoit-charette-sera-le-ministre-responsable-de-la-lutte-contre-le-racisme?utm_source=infolettre-2021-02-25&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

English article on his appointment:

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has enlisted his environment minister to spearhead the fight against racism in the province, naming Benoit Charette to the newly created post on Wednesday.

Charette added the responsibilities as part of a small cabinet shuffle announced in the provincial capital.

One of the recommendations of a task force that Legault had convened last summer to look at racism in the province was the appointment of a minister to implement its anti-racism action plan.

The 25 recommendations outlined in the final report released in December aim to tackle racial profiling and discrimination faced by minorities and Indigenous people in the province. Charette said he’s given himself until the end of the current mandate in 2022 to see those measures implemented.

“The fight against racism is first and foremost a question of human dignity,” he said, calling Quebec one of the most welcoming and tolerant societies in the world.

The Legault government has maintained that systemic racism does not exist in Quebec, and Charette echoed that Wednesday, saying what is most important is acting swiftly to fight racism. Charette noted the “system” in place includes the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the province’s Human Rights Commission to protect against discrimination.

Legault was asked Wednesday why the post didn’t go to one of the Coalition Avenir Quebec members who sat on the task force, in particular co-chairs and cabinet ministers Lionel Carmant and Nadine Girault, both of whom are of Haitian origin.

The premier said he spoke to Carmant and Girault and both have seen their workload increase in recent months. Carmant, the junior health minister, is in charge of reforming the youth protection system. Girault, the international relations minister, recently took on the immigration portfolio as well.

Charette, 44, is white. His wife is of Haitian origin and they have three children. He rejected the notion that not coming from a visible minority means lacking credibility fighting racism.

“In any case, whatever the reason, in my opinion, the colour of skin should not be an argument to disqualify someone,” Charette said.

He said he is no stranger to racism, having been refused an apartment, allegedly because of prejudice aimed at his wife. He recounted filing a human rights complaint that led to the landlord being sanctioned.

“It is at times subtle, it is at times direct, but in all cases, it is very offensive. It is very hurtful,” Charette said.

Legault said he has confidence in Charette, who was responsible for dealing with cultural communities when the party was in opposition. “And Benoit, I’ve known for many years and I know it’s a very important subject for him, so I think he’s the best person to fight against racism,” Legault said.

Charette said he’ll be meeting with leaders from different groups and communities in the coming days.

Charette was given the environment portfolio in January 2019. Some environmental groups raised concerns his new responsibilities would mean less time for environment and climate change issues. Charette assured that wouldn’t be the case, noting he has a dedicated staff.

Legault also announced Wednesday that Lucie Lecours would be joining cabinet as junior economy minister.

Source: Legault government taps Environment Minister Benoit Charette to oversee racism fight

MPs, advocates urge more government action to combat ‘pandemic of anti-Asian racism’

Of note, both in terms of comments by activists and politicians, as well as some encouraging signs of a downward trendline:

Justin Kong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter, doesn’t want focus paid to his own experiences of racism, which he says most racialized people have experienced, instead emphasizing the importance of the country coming together to make things better.

He, along with several Members of Parliament and advocacy groups, have called for more to be done by the federal government to combat anti-Asian racism, in response to the surging number of racist incidents affecting Asians in Canada—and those who look Asian to some—since the start of the pandemic.

A September report from Project 1907, a group which has been tracking incidents, found that more than 600 instances of racism have occurred in Canada since the onset of COVID-19, with a higher number of anti-Asian incidents reported per capita than the United States. Women were impacted the most, reporting 60 per cent of all incidents. The data expanded on the type of harassment, too, with verbal abuse occurring in 65 per cent of incidents, and nearly 30 per cent reporting assault or targeted coughing, spitting, or other physical forms of violence.

A July Statistics Canada report, meanwhile, found that discriminatory incidents were perceived to happen sometimes or often by 26 per cent of Koreans and 25 per cent of Chinese respondents. It also found that 43 per cent of Koreans, and 38 per cent of Filipino people reported feeling unsafe walking home alone at night. Strikingly, in a recent report presented to Vancouver’s police board, the increase in anti-Asian racism was up 717 per cent from the year before, going from 12 reports in 2019 to 98 in 2020.

Some standout incidents that Conservative MP Kenny Chiu (Steveston-Richmond East, B.C.) said he’s noticed in Vancouver include reports of vandalism and even one incident where an elderly gentleman with dementia was attacked.

For Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, vice-president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, these types of occurrences relate to the idea of Asians being untrustworthy foreigners no matter how long they’ve been in Canada.

“It’s just this inability of people to see you as Canadian because of the colour of your skin,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) has condemned racism in the past via news conferences.

Mr. Kong said the main impetus for more recent racism was COVID-19 and the political rhetoric circulating.

“Irresponsible politicians have scapegoated Chinese people as the cause of this virus,” he said.

Liberal MP Han Dong (Don Valley North, Ont.) noted that racism towards the Asian community is historic, and that continued, systemic issues, like around fair employment opportunity, plague the system.

Queenie Choo, CEO of B.C. social service agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S., described systemic racism as issues with policy that ignore privilege and create unfair inequities.

This system, Mr. Kong said, leads to issues like Chinese-Canadians being disproportionately represented under the poverty line, or having difficulties with accessing good housing or good education.

“The racism is systemic racism that puts racialized people in precarious working conditions and life conditions,” he said.

In Mr. Dong’s view, COVID-19 has simply created the setting for racist thinking to come out.

“It’s always been there, but the pandemic has created a perfect [mix] for some of these people to come out pointing fingers at Chinese-Canadians,” he said.

NDP MP Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, B.C.) raised similar historical issues, pointing towards segregation laws and head taxes that existed in the past, which unfairly targeted Chinese- and other Asian-Canadians.

Also contributing to the issue is negative sentiment towards the Chinese government over issues like its crackdowns in Hong Kong and detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, with Mr. Dong noting that Canada-China relations have worsened over the last three years.

“I think this will sharpen the sort of racial view on Chinese-Canadians,” he said. “I think the racism against Asian-Canadians is deeper than what’s going on between Canada and China.”

Mixed opinions on level of anti-Asian racism since pandemic start

Mr. Kong said there have been consistent levels of racism since the pandemic started: “Whether or not it’s gotten worse, it’s bad, it’s really bad.”

He was also impressed with how many Chinese organizations and individuals got together as citizens and donated to help their neighbours and their community.

“That’s a real positive out of COVID-19,” he said.

Mr. Chiu echoed these sentiments, and said the trend appears to be going down.

Less satisfied with the status quo, Ms. Choo emphasized that racism will continue if nothing is done about it. While she said she’s glad the government is openly talking about racism, she said she wants to see more sustained efforts over time and continuous vigilant action.

Ms. Kobayashi, meanwhile, expected there to be a new wave of racism as a result of the Capitol Building storming in the United States, with white supremacists and extreme groups emboldened by the attack.

And in Ms. Kwan’s eyes, racism directed at Asian-Canadians has existed for a long time, with COVID-19 giving it a chance to re-emerge “with a vengeance.”

How the government can combat anti-Asian racism

For Mr. Kong, fighting the problem of racism requires the first step of recognizing that racial inequities exist. He said he wasn’t able to offer firm policy suggestions owing to an incoming report on the topic.

In Ms. Choo’s opinion, there should be more concrete legislation around hate crimes.

“Right now, we have no clear definition. What is a hate crime? Is it a hate crime online? Is spitting on people of colour [a hate crime]?” she said.

She further advocated for serious legislation to prosecute offenders in order to send a message to people.

Ms. Choo also said race-based data should be collected in consultations with the affected communities. “If we don’t even know who is targeted, who is affected, and what communities we are talking about, how are we going to take corrective action?”

To treat this “pandemic of anti-Asian racism,” Ms. Kobayashi agreed there should be support for people targeted by hate crimes, and that more funding should be provided for data collection efforts on racism.

In Ms. Kwan’s view, a hate crime unit should be placed in every single police department across the country. Alongside this, she said there should be high-level standards that ensure every single incident is investigated fairly.

“We can talk about we’re doing to get rid of racism and hate, but we need to match those words in action, and to properly resource a hate crime unit at every single department, I would think, is the bare minimum that we should be in,” she said.

Also critical is educating the Canadian public, Ms. Kwan said. Her comments were echoed by Ms. Choo, who said that teaching around historical and contemporary racism should be funded .

Some things that the Trudeau Liberal government has already done include shortlisting a Chinese-born Canadian, Won Alexander Cumyow, for appearance on the $5 bill and acknowledging the role of Chinease railway workers every year, said Mr. Dong.

Other concrete actions taken, according to Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger’s (Waterloo, Ont.) press secretary, Emelyana Titarenko, include the setup of an equity-seeking communities and COVID-19 taskforce, which asked East Asian communities about the impact of the virus, and funding for more than 85 different anti-racism projects, worth $15-million.

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Man.) said Parliamentarians should call out racism whenever they can and said the government acts by providing grants to “all sorts of non-profits.”

Ms. Titarenko also noted that a multicultural, open, and inclusive society is always “a work in progress. It demands our effort, our attention and our care.”

Mr. Chiu, who has experienced racism himself, said it made him question whether he belonged in Canadian society when he was pointed and yelled at.

But he said he doesn’t think that the government is the only group with a part to play in fighting racism.

“In Richmond, for example, our community is already diverse and multicultural … my younger daughter’s best friend is a hijab-donning Muslim girl. They don’t see each other as different places, they see each other as friends, so I don’t know if the government can actually do anything to do that. It’s up to us as a society.”

Source: https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/02/24/mps-advocates-urge-more-government-action-to-combat-pandemic-of-anti-asian-racism/285240?mc_cid=a5dba06976&mc_eid=685e94e554

Soh: Attacks on Asian-Americans reveal a strange racial double standard

While I agree that having heirarchies–ethnic, racial, religious etc–are unhelpful, my sense of Canadian media coverage is that anti-Asian attacks have received extensive and appropriate coverage as race-based attacks.

Not sure why the Globe would publish an op-ed focussed on the US without mentioning similarities and differences with Canada. :

The surveillance-camera video is horrifying to watch. In broad daylight, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man, was slammed to the ground while on a morning walk in San Francisco; he never regained consciousness. In Oakland, a man attacked a 91-year-old man, a 60-year-old man, and a 55-year-old woman in Chinatown. Nearly two dozen violent incidents in the area have been recorded in recent weeks.

These incidents are just part of a recent and unfortunate trend, particularly during the Lunar New Year. In a Pew Research Center study conducted last July, about 30 per cent of Asian-American adults said they have experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity or race since the pandemic began.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been blamed for stoking anti-Chinese resentment. He repeatedly referenced the “China virus,” the “China plague” and the “Kung Flu” while in office, holding the country responsible for the pandemic.

And yet, as these crimes continue, there has been a failure to see these attacks as racially motivated. Mr. Ratanapakdee’s homicide, for instance, is not being prosecuted as a hate crime. It wasn’t until Hollywood actors spoke up that media attention was drawn to these incidents, with Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim offering a US$25,000 reward for information. That led to the arrest of 28-year-old Yahya Muslim, who is not facing hate-crime charges.

Being level-headed about emotional subjects is never a bad approach, as it prevents us from jumping to conclusions about unclear events or any legal concerns. But in this case, what is the likelihood that multiple victims, targeted randomly, just happened to all be Asian? If an alarmingly high number of people belonging to another visible-minority group had been violently assaulted and murdered, would anyone doubt that the attacks were racially motivated?

It feels like a double standard. And it can feel, broadly speaking, as if racism against Asians is not taken as seriously as racism against other groups. Take, for example, a job listing posted by a Bay Area tech company recently, which explicitly sought “non-Asian” applicants. Or consider the debate on affirmative action sparked most recently by the case of Students for Fair Admissions versus Harvard; in 2019, a federal judge ruled against Asian-American applicants who believed they had been systematically discriminated against by university admissions officials, and who sought a race-neutral process.

That’s where it can feel like obsessions with race are erecting a bizarre racial hierarchy – one in which apparently only white perpetrators can commit racist or hateful acts, and one where discrimination against certain groups counts less or hurts less than discrimination against others.

Because the general economic success of Asian diasporic communities in Canada and the U.S. is dissonant with the narrative that societal white privilege limits and is hostile to visible minorities, we are too often stripped of any progressive clout afforded to “people of colour.” In the eyes of some, we are being recategorized as “white.” From this ideological view – one I disagree with – it isn’t possible to be racist toward white people.

Further complicating this lack of logic is the history of strained relationsbetween Asian and Black communities in the U.S., most notably between protesters and Korean business owners in the Rodney King riots. Asian-Americans have been long held up as an example of successful assimilation, and by doing so, they become used to dismiss the genuine concerns of Black Americans, pitting one group against another.

But protecting racial groups is not a zero-sum game; ensuring the safety of one does not need to come at the expense of another. We can identify racist acts while advocating that they should not be used to justify retaliatory harassment or prejudice against others.

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been asked whether I think claims of Sinophobia have been overblown to forward an agenda of race-baiting. In short: No. Because I am often mistaken as having a different Asian ethnicity, it’s been amusing and sad to see what some will say in my presence, only to furiously backpedal their opinions once I tell them that I’m a Canadian of Malaysian-Chinese descent.

For those who remain skeptical, I’d ask how they would feel if people who shared their racial ancestry were being violently targeted and terrorized, and then made to feel that their concerns weren’t legitimate, especially during a time of the year that would normally be celebratory. Acknowledging where the coronavirus originated can be done without blaming or discriminating more widely against people of Asian descent.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-attacks-on-asian-americans-reveal-a-strange-racial-double-standard/

The Book That Should Change How Progressives Talk About Race

Helpful suggestions to reduce polarization and build more shared narratives:

When Heather McGhee was a 25-year-old staffer at Demos, the progressive think tank she would eventually lead, she went to Congress to present findings on shocking increases in individual and family debt.

“Few politicians in Washington knew what it was like to have bill collectors incessantly ringing their phones about balances that kept growing every month,” McGhee writes in her new book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.”

Demos’s explanatory attempts failed. When Congress finally took action in 2005, it made the problem worse, passing a bankruptcy bill that made escaping unsustainable debt harder than ever. For McGhee, the disaster was an education in the limits of research, which is often no match for the brute power of big money. But as she was walking down the hallway of the Russell Senate Office Building, she learned something else.

Stopping to adjust her new shoes near the door of a Senate office, she wrote, she heard “the bombastic voice of a man going on about the deadbeats who had babies with multiple women and then declared bankruptcy to dodge the child support.” She doesn’t know whether the man was a Democrat or a Republican, but when she heard him she realized she and her allies might have missed something. They’d thought of debt and bankruptcy primarily as a class issue. Suddenly she understood that for some of her opponents, it was more about race.

She wondered how, as a Black woman, she’d been caught off guard. “I hadn’t even thought to ask the question about this seemingly nonracial financial issue, but had racism helped defeat us?” she wrote.

McGhee’s book is about the many ways racism has defeated efforts to create a more economically just America. Once the civil rights movement expanded America’s conception of “the public,” white America’s support for public goods collapsed. People of color have suffered the most from the resulting austerity, but it’s made life a lot worse for most white people, too. McGhee’s central metaphor is that of towns and cities that closed their public pools rather than share them with Black people, leaving everyone who couldn’t afford a private pool materially worse off.

One of the most fascinating things about “The Sum of Us” is how it challenges the assumptions of both white antiracism activists and progressives who just want to talk about class. McGhee argues that it’s futile to try to address decades of disinvestment in schools, infrastructure, health care and more without talking about racial resentment.

She describes research done by the Race-Class Narrative Project, a Demos initiative that grew out of her work for the book. McGhee and her colleagues, she writes, discovered that if you “try to convince anyone but the most committed progressives (disproportionately people of color) about big public solutions without addressing race, most will agree … right up until they hear the countermessage that does talk, even implicitly, about race.”

But McGhee, who leads the board of the racial justice organization Color of Change, also implicitly critiques the way parts of the left talk about white privilege. “Without the hostile intent, of course, aren’t we all talking about race relations through a prism of competition, every advantage for one group mirrored by a disadvantage for another?” she asks.

McGhee is far from an opponent of the sort of social justice culture sometimes derided as “wokeness.” But her work illuminates what’s always seemed to me to be a central contradiction in certain kinds of anti-racist consciousness-raising, which is that many people want more privilege rather than less. You have to have an oddly high opinion of white people to assume that most will react to learning about the advantages of whiteness by wanting to give it up.

“Communicators have to be aware of the mental frameworks of their audience,” McGhee told me. “And for white Americans, the zero-sum is a profound, both deeply embedded and constantly reinforced one.”

This doesn’t mean that the concept of white privilege isn’t useful; obviously it describes something real. “What privilege awareness does, at its best, is reveal the systematic unfairness, and lift the blame from the victims of a corrupt system,” McGhee said. “However, I think at this point in our discourse — also when so many white people feel deeply unprivileged — it’s more important to talk about the world we want for everyone.”

So McGhee is trying to shift the focus from how racism benefits white people to how it costs them. Why is student debt so crushing in a country that once had excellent universities that were cheap or even free? Why is American health care such a disaster? Why is our democracy being strangled by minority rule? As the first line of McGhee’s book asks, “Why can’t we have nice things?” Racism is a huge part of the answer.

McGhee describes a “solidarity dividend” gained when people are able to transcend racism. Look at what just happened in Georgia, where the billionaire Kelly Loeffler, in an attempt to keep her Senate seat, waged a nakedly racist campaign against Raphael Warnock, who ran on sending voters $2,000 stimulus checks. He still lost most white people, but won enough to prevail. He did it by appealing to idealism, but also to self-interest. In the fight for true multiracial democracy, counting on altruism will only get you so far.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/19/opinion/heather-mcghee-racism.html

How can boards create anti-racist companies?

Nice to see data-based arguments and practical suggestions:

In the 34 years since Canada’s Employment Equity Act was introduced, we haven’t yet normalized Black professionals in senior leadership or on boards. Black people have been underrepresented, marginalized or plain excluded — and with the added intersectional lens of gender, Black women have the worst experience of all. Being a numbers person, I like to start with data. Thankfully, recent reports have begun to break down representation in employment and on boards by visible minority status (Statistics Canada’s terminology, not my own).

Black leaders occupy less than one per cent of executive roles and board seats at major Canadian companies. What’s more, they hold only 0.3 per cent of corporate board positionsand 3.6 per cent of all board positions in Toronto, despite comprising 7.5 per cent of the city’s total population. In July 2020, just as the first COVID-19 lockdown was ending, the national unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent. In contrast, the unemployment rate for Black women was 7.7 points higher at 18.6 per cent, and for Black men, it was 4.2 points higher at 15.1 per cent. This data suggests that Black workers face systemic and institutional barriers to employment in Canada and therefore advancement to boards.

Embedded in our institutions, systemic barriers are everywhere, and are therefore normalized as “just how things are done around here.” You can’t see these barriers, so this invisibility makes it difficult to measure their impact on people who encounter them. As leaders at the boardroom table, it’s essential that we play a significant role in eliminating anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination in our organizations.

In the months following the tragic murder of George Floyd, many companies realized they could no longer be silent. Some made public statements, pledged donations, or committed actions to revisit their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. But decades of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work have already shown racial disparities in the advancement of Black professionals into board seats, so it’s safe to assume that doubling down on generic DEI efforts will not address the specific issues surrounding anti-Black racism.

So, how can boards take action to create anti-racist companies?

The fish rots from the head

As an individual board member, now is the time to add anti-racism to your core values. Start by educating yourself on anti-Black racism in the workplace. Build your networks to include Black people and organizations that serve Black communities. Ask willing Black people about their experiences, but come with humility and be prepared to have your views on race and privilege challenged without getting defensive.

As a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), I have internalized the adage “tone at the top,” which describes an organization’s approach to preventing fraud and other unethical practices in the workplace. Racism in both overt and covert forms is an ethical issue that companies must address in the same way.

The board is ultimately responsible for establishing the tone of the organization, so it must embed anti-racism into its strategic priorities — not just pay lip service to it. Anti-racism objectives will be unique to each organization, depending on its industry, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. For instance, a tech company writing complex algorithms to identify faces for law enforcement wouldn’t have the same anti-racism policy as a farming operation employing temporary foreign workers from the Caribbean.

The only constant is change

Board composition is important to its overall effectiveness when it comes to meeting shareholder expectations and the demands of regulators. Several factors in board composition can slow down the advancement of Black people — most notably, skills matrices, term limits and qualifying criteria.

Board governance practices have embraced the skills matrix to identify competencies needed to increase board effectiveness, but these skills cannot remain static. Why not include anti-racist skills and competencies, such as learning how to talk productively about race with fellow board members or reviewing decision-making and policies from an anti-racist lens? If the current makeup of your board falls short in these competencies, consider training or increasing the size of the board and its committees.

The lack of term limits only serves to reinforce the status quo. Regulators and companies should adopt a maximum tenure for board members. It wasn’t too long ago that a requirement for a majority of independent directors on publicly traded companies was new, but now, it’s common practice. Companies can commit to recruiting and nominating at least one Black leader to its board as the next available term comes to an end.

Corporate boards also need to examine informal requirements for board members to be former CEOs or other senior executives or to obtain excessive credentials. Is this truly what is needed, or does it serve as another mechanism to reinforce exclusion? I know many talented Black professionals in the not-for-profit sector whose qualifications would be well-suited for a public board, even though they’ve never held a corporate c-suite title. Similarly, I know many Black professionals who carry a well-respected ICD.D designation (granted by the Institute of Corporate Directors) and still are not on any corporate boards.

Your choice: Carrot or stick

Some corporations will look at policies and processes to advance Black leaders as being good for business, such as reaching new markets, addressing skills shortages, and maintaining global competitiveness, or — even better — for social justice reasons. That’s the carrot approach. Others will require a direct strategy, such as tying results to CEO performance and compensation, or through legislation. Monetary penalties for non-compliance is the stick approach.

In Canada, federally incorporated companies and TSX-listed companies are subject to diversity disclosure requirements. Bill C-25 requires federally incorporated companies to report gender and race, as well as representation from Indigenous people and people with disabilities, in the composition of its board and leadership. “National Instrument 58-101Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices” (NI 58-101) requires TSX-listed companies to disclose the numbers, targets and mechanisms to address representation of women in their director and executive ranks. If these companies do not comply, they must explain why. But NI 58-101 has defined diversity as the advancement of women only, neglecting how gender intersects with race, sexual orientation and disability.

The Canadian diversity rules lack teeth because there are no consequences for non-compliance. You might even say it’s easier to avoid reporting and instead just explain why, in the case of Bill C-25, non-existent targets were not met, or in the case of NI 58-101, why internal company targets were not met. Needless to say, it’s unsurprising that recent data suggests the proportion of women in executive leadership has remained unchanged and that there’s a marked absence of directors from other equity-seeking groups.

Other countries have established targets and enforced them. In the U.S., NASDAQ may become the first major stock exchange to mandate board diversity reports, and to require board diversity by having at least one member identify as a woman and one who identifies as being from LGBTQ+ communities or another underrepresented group. Under the NASDAQ-proposed diversify-or-delist rules, if companies do not publicly disclose board diversity data or fail to meet diversity requirements and do not publish a reason explaining why, they could be delisted from the stock exchange. These proposals, specifically the possibility of delisting, could have greater impact on diversification of corporate boards because NASDAQ sets the rules for 3,000 corporations listed on its exchange.

Bill C-25 and NI 58-101 need to go one step further by penalizing companies that fail to comply with the rules that establish racial diversity targets. Following an anti-racist approach means always remembering that race is in every room — including the boardroom.

There are no quick fixes to the complexity of dismantling anti-Black racism on corporate boards. Change will need to be deliberate, purposeful and prolonged, but board members are uniquely positioned to challenge “how things are done around here.”

Source: How can boards create anti-racist companies?

Canada should say no to racism at the United Nations (20th anniversary of Durban Conference)

The legacy of Durban… Would be nice if there would be greater focus on China’s treatment of its religious and other minorities:

By bringing together all nations — democratic and non-democratic alike — the United Nations provides opportunities for both: For states that respect human rights, the UN can provide a forum for promoting that respect, while for states that violate them, the UN becomes a forum in which to defend, divert, and obfuscate.

One diversion tactic the latter use is to point human-rights standards elsewhere. They might use the vocabulary of human rights, but these words mean what they want them to mean.

The 2001 World Conference against Racism is a prime example. By singling out Israel, the concluding document was itself racist. The document called the Jews of Israel foreigners, even though Jews have lived continuously in Israel since prehistoric times.

The document further referred to their presence in the region as colonial occupation, even though colonization of the area had ended with the termination of the British mandate in 1948. The document blamed the plight of the Palestinians on Israel alone, as if all the terrorist organizations targeting the Jews of Israel, not least the Palestinian governing authority, had nothing to do with it.

While the strategies employed by rights-violating states at the UN to smother criticism are various, a notable component is an inordinate focus on Israel. Israel is small and geopolitically insignificant. A raft of states in the Arab and Muslim world are opposed to its very existence. Non-democratic states who are neither Arab nor Muslim, but who want to make sure the UN busies itself with anyone but them, are quick to join Arab/Muslim states in elaborate, prolonged, exaggerated criticism of Israel.

Zionism stands for the existence of Israel as the realization of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism stands opposed. There is a confluence of agendas of the anti-Zionists states and the other non-democratic states. Anti-Zionists, having failed in their attempts to destroy Israel through force — in 1948, 1967, and 1973 — have switched to terrorism and delegitimization through demonization. A primary vehicle for this delegitimization strategy is the United Nations.

Jews are the prototypical victims of racism. They are a people whose victimization has been so awful, it gave racism itself, before the Holocaust a widely accepted ideology, a bad name. Yet, they themselves are labelled by anti-Zionists (in a typically tyrannical vocabulary inversion) as racist. Non-democratic states that repress their minorities and who truly are racist are more than happy to jump on this anti-Zionist bandwagon barrelling toward Israel and away from them.

We can be thankful that Canada and several other states walked out of the Durban Conference. But the anti-democratic/anti-Zionist coalition at the UN never misses a trick. It embraced a Durban Review Conference in Geneva in 2009, and a 10th-anniversary event in New York in 2011. Canada boycotted both, as did other rights-respecting states.

At the end of last year, the UN General Assembly decided by resolution that in September 2021 it will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration. Canada voted against this resolution, as did several other rights-respecting states. The anniversary celebration this fall is expected to call for the full implementation of the declaration.

Feb. 22 is the first day of the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. On opening day, a high-level panel is scheduled to discuss the upcoming 20th anniversary. Canada should there express again its concerns about the Durban document and make clear its intention not to attend the celebration.

Canada, despite all the obfuscation of the cabal of anti-Zionist and other non-democratic states, should work through the United Nations to combat real racism. One component must be standing continuously against the Durban perversion of the anti-racist agenda to serve racist ends, with Jews yet again the intended victims.

The fight against racism is too important to ignore. Through their resurrection of the Durban Document and their pretend accusation as racist of a people devastated by racism, truly racist states attempt to avoid the criticism they so justly deserve. Canada at the United Nations should continue to say no to racism, real racism, and no also to this 20th anniversary.

Sarah Teich is a senior fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute. David Matas is senior honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.  He was rapporteur for the Jewish Caucus at the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism.  

Source: Canada should say no to racism at the United Nations

‘Glaring gap’ in addressing anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in RCMP’s new ‘cultural humility’ course, experts say

While I respect all of the experts cited, and find some needed suggestions for improvements, most of these experts have an understandable activist orientation and the Star could have made more of an effort to broaden the range of experts consulted. Their critique of the overall “fluffiness” is, of course, valid but this is typical of so many government documents….:

A mandatory online training course called “Cultural Awareness and Humility” that was rolled out last fall for all RCMP members and touted by the commissioner as an example of the force’s efforts to modernize misses the mark on many levels, according to experts who have reviewed the program for the Star.

One glaring gap, they say, is the lack of content addressing institutionalized racism, particularly anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism. Instead, the training emphasizes only implicit biases and reforming individual attitudes and behaviours.

Some noted that a section on the RCMP’s role in colonization was given short shrift — just three paragraphs.

One expert said a section dealing with how to avoid stereotyping in communications was so simplified it reminded her of course materials her nine-year-old daughter gets in school. Other sections, the experts said, contained outdated or confusing terminology.

“This does not increase accountability. A participant is simply given a certificate without needing to demonstrate any real change,” said Kanika Samuels-Wortley, a professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“We’ve got to ask, with all the calls for police reform and concerns over negative encounters with the police, can sitting in front of a computer, that involves no human interaction, produce change?”

In a statement to the Star, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she was disappointed to hear the criticism, noting that the course is just one component of the force’s cultural learning strategy and was “not designed to single-handedly address systemic issues in the organization.”

“We consulted widely during the development of this training. I strongly believe that anything we can do to increase cultural awareness, sensitivity and humility is a benefit to the organization, and to the communities we serve.”

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Caroline Duval added that a separate training course dealing with systemic racism, anti-racism and discrimination is in development “to address employees’ competency gaps in their ability to appropriately interact with racialized colleagues and the diverse communities the RCMP serves.”

“It will build the foundation for a common understanding of terminology, historical impacts, as well as disparities and inequities resulting from racism. Finally, it will introduce meaningful best practices for supporting people who have suffered as a result of racism. This includes being empathetic, recognizing the importance of learning about the needs of others and creating a culture of allyship.” 

Canada’s national police force has been under intense scrutiny over its internal culture and its policing of Indigenous Peoples and Black Canadians. Last year, Lucki drew criticism and calls for her resignation after saying in an interview that she struggled over the definition of systemic racism and its existence in her police force only to change course days later, acknowledging that “systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included.”

The commissioner later told the Star she had listened and learned and that she had a plan to change the RCMP’s culture.

As part of that plan, she touted the cultural humility course.

How the program was made

The RCMP said the course was developed over a period of several months after consulting internally with its vulnerable-persons unit and gender-based violence working group and externally with an advisory council of elders and federal departments.

The Star paid $50 to access the training on an online repository for law-enforcement courses.

Its stated objectives include getting people to recognize how their personal beliefs and attitudes affect their daily interactions and perceptions; to respect differences in social and cultural norms in society; and to find ways to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Being open-minded and non-judgmental is a consistent theme.

The training, which consists of six modules and takes two to three hours to complete, is mostly text-based and laden with terminology, such as prejudice, bias, classism, ethnic stereotyping, microaggressions and intergenerational trauma, and their definitions.

The training includes interactive components, such as video clips of a residential school survivor and her grandson and a section in which officers are asked how they would respond to scenarios in which co-workers displayed racist or discriminatory behaviour.

Who assessed the course for the Star

To analyze the RCMP program, the Star turned to several people with backgrounds in issues of race, identity and criminal justice.

They were:

  • Kanika Samuels-Wortley, a professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice;
  • Carl Everton James, a York University professor of education and that school’s senior adviser on equity and representation;
  • Mylene Jaccoud, a criminology professor at the University of Montreal, specializing in restorative justice and criminalization of Indigenous people; and
  • Shiri Pasternak, a criminology professor at Ryerson University specializing in settler colonialism.

What they saw

Right from the beginning, the program hits a flawed note, said Pasternak, pointing to a line in the preamble that states: “Systemic racism is a term that is now being commonly used and it is a reflection of a society’s failure to prioritize everyone’s needs.”

“No, systemic racism is about structures of oppression, it’s not a failure of society,” Pasternak said. (Later in the training, a page does define systemic racism as “the policies and practices of organizations, which directly or indirectly operate to sustain the advantages of certain ‘social races.’”)

The preamble goes on to say: “The RCMP has always worked to create safe communities. We have always worked to protect people’s Charterrights. Now we are being asked to recognize that not every member of Canadian society feels supported.”

Pasternak called that language harmful gaslighting, noting the RCMP’s role in forcibly removing children from their homes to attend residential schools and documented failures related to investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The first module of the training emphasizes the importance of respecting diversity, embracing a range of cultures and avoiding making assumptions based on first impressions.

Samuels-Wortley said this section bombards the participant with uncommon terminology. For instance, a chart outlines different responses to diversity, from “acceptance of diversity” to a “rejection of diversity.”

“It would have been simpler to just say ‘racism,’” she said.

“It is as though the training material goes out of the way to be gentle and not use terminology that could offend.”

Far too simple

In a module devoted to communication, participants are told to be aware of stereotyping in their language.

For instance, participants are told: “Don’t use words, images, and situations suggesting members of a racial group are the same: e.g. ‘Don’t expect Jo to be on time. Everyone from that culture is always late.’”

The training also urges avoidance of racial identifiers. “‘Ms. Woo, an attentive client,’ is preferable to, ‘Ms. Woo, an attentive Asian Canadian client.’ ”

Participants are told they are “not expected to know everything about all different cultures and groups of people.”

“Cultural humility sets an expectation to learn as much as you can, particularly about key groups of people you typically work with. When you don’t know, ask. It is important to be observant, respectful, and adapt your own behaviours where reasonable and possible.”

This entire section, Samuels-Wortley said, is very general and “does little to address the complexities of communication with peoples from different racial groups.”

Pasternak agreed.

“My daughter is nine years old and just did a similar unit in her class,” she said. “The module reviews in general are pitched extremely low, not pedagogically designed — from what I can tell — for any particular critical thinking.”

Significant Indigenous issues left unaddressed

One page in the course summarizes Canadian laws and RCMP policies dealing with culture and diversity, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act and the RCMP’s bias-free policing policy.

But Pasternak wrote in an email the page would have benefited by having a primer on Aboriginal jurisprudence.

“One of the problems when police enforce, e.g. injunctions, is that they seem to have no knowledge or understanding about Aboriginal rights. They see land defenders as lawless agitators, but have no context for the legal rights Indigenous people hold,” she said.

One of the six modules is devoted to “cultural awareness in Indigenous communities.”

It describes the uniqueness of Indigenous languages and their contributions to the “rich linguistic mosaic of Canada,” as well as the importance of Indigenous art, culture and heritage.

“Taking in the rich history of Indigenous art is a great way to celebrate the multi-layered cultural tapestry of the many diverse communities of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis,” participants are told.

It is within this section that the RCMP’s role in colonization is summarized in three paragraphs. Participants are told this may be a contributing factor to the “fear that some communities may have toward police.”

A page on the vulnerability of Indigenous women and girls is also summed up in three paragraphs. Participants are provided a link to an “essential” source of reading material: the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

For such important and necessary topics, Samuels-Wortley said, the coverage is “embarrassing.”

Pasternak agreed, saying parts of this section contained “the most generalized pablum.”

“What on earth is the point of this page?” she asked, referring to the page on arts, culture and heritage. “To say native art is good?”

The page on the RCMP’s role in colonization frames the harm and violence only in the past, “when it goes right up until the current moment,” she added.

‘Constructing the other’

Given that we live in an ethnoculturally diverse nation, participants are told there will be times when officers encounter language barriers. Data is cited showing the number of people in Canada who report being an immigrant or permanent resident has climbed to 22 per cent and could reach 30 per cent by 2036.

James said he was troubled that the discussion around diversity seemed to be framed only in terms of immigrant cultural backgrounds.

“What about the people who have been here two or three generations?” he asked.

“We have to move away from constructing the other.”

He also homed in on a page that broke down definitions for the terms “ethnic group,” “ethnic minority” and “ethnic stereotyping.”

“Ethnic minority” is defined in the course as a group within a community that has different national or cultural traditions from the main population.

James said he would revise this. Look at South Africa, he said. The majority were Black but they were the minority because they were not part of the political power structure.

Calling out racism

The final module of the training consists of a variety of everyday scenarios in which a co-worker demonstrates problematic behaviour. Participants are asked how they would respond.

In one scenario, a colleague is overheard speaking on the phone with a citizen who smells smoke in the neighbourhood and is concerned it’s marijuana.

“You and your colleague know that the community centre hosts traditional blessing ceremonies/purification rites known as smudging that are performed by some Indigenous groups and are the real cause of the smoke and the smell that is being reported. As you listen to your colleague on the phone, he explains to the citizen, ‘Yes, they are burning sage. You know, it’s that stuff you put in spaghetti sauce. But, they are using it for smudging.’”

Participants are advised that should they face such a scenario, they should tell their co-worker he has “minimized the importance of the ceremony.”

“You can provide him with information about the significance of smudging and that in many First Nations or Métis communities, this ceremony can be tied to healing, cleansing and blessing.”

But Samuels-Wortley questions how likely it is that officers will confront fellow officers like this, noting it has been established there is a “culture of silence” within policing wherein officers do not feel protected, if they raise concerns.

Take-aways

The training program has “good intent,” but likely “few impacts,” said Jaccoud.

She said the training reminded her of cultural awareness training programs used in the 1980s to try to address overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the corrections system.

“You will never resolve structural problems with cultural programs,” she said.

Pasternak agreed it is not enough to treat this as a cultural competency issue.

“My overall take is that there isn’t any possibility that this course could make any positive difference in the policing of Indigenous people,” she said.

What is the ultimate objective of this training, Samuels-Wortley asked. 

“If it is to address concerns over police use of force, discretionary police arrests, to increase trust in the police among members of Black, Indigenous or racialized communities, this training does little to address any of these issues.”

The experts said the training program’s focus on individual ideas, attitudes and behaviours and raising self-awareness ignores how an institution’s culture can influence individuals within that institution.

“What about the institution of the RCMP — the structure on which it’s built and how much that structure probably also needs to go through the necessary changes in order to understand and incorporate the diversity of the people to be served?” asked James.

“That needs to be unpacked.”

James says there is merit to the training, but he’s curious what is done after the training is over to reinforce what was learned.

“I think there’s some worth to it, it provides information. But what do you do beyond this? What additional engagement do they have? What conversations do they have?” he said.

Duval, the RCMP spokesperson, said the force believes its cultural humility course is an important part of “advancing reconciliation and issues of systemic racism.”

Besides developing a separate anti-racism course, she said, the force is also preparing a timeline that outlines the historical relationship between the force and Indigenous people, training for front-line officers in restorative justice as a way to eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody, and courses focusing on “newcomers, immigrants and refugees.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/02/16/we-found-the-rcmps-cultural-humility-training-course-and-asked-4-experts-to-review-it-for-us-heres-what-they-said.html

Obscure Musicology Journal Sparks Battles Over Race and Free Speech

Of interest:

A periodical devoted to the study of a long-dead European music theorist is an unlikely suspect to spark an explosive battle over race and free speech.

But the tiny Journal of Schenkerian Studies, with a paid circulation of about 30 copies an issue per year, has ignited a fiery reckoning over race and the limits of academic free speech, along with whiffs of a generational struggle. The battle threatens to consume the career of Timothy Jackson, a 62-year-old music theory professor at the University of North Texas, and led to calls to dissolve the journal.

It also prompted Professor Jackson to file an unusual lawsuitcharging the university with violating his First Amendment rights — while accusing his critics of defamation.

This tale began in the autumn of 2019 when Philip Ewell, a Black music theory professor at Hunter College, addressed the Society for Music Theory in Columbus, Ohio. He described music theory as dominated by white males and beset by racism. He held up the theorist Heinrich Schenker, who died in Austria in 1935, as an exemplar of that flawed world, a “virulent racist” who wrote of “primitive” and “inferior” races — views, he argued, that suffused his theories of music.

“I’ve only scratched the surface in showing out how Schenker’s racism permeates his music theories,” Professor Ewell said, accusing generations of Schenker scholars of trying to “whitewash” the theorist in an act of “colorblind racism.”

The society’s members — its professoriate is 94 percent white — responded with a standing ovation. Many younger faculty members and graduate students embraced his call to dismantle “white mythologies” and study non-European music forms. The tone was of repentance.

“We humbly acknowledge that we have much work to do to dismantle the whiteness and systemic racism that deeply shape our discipline,” the society’s executive board later stated.

At the University of North Texas, however, Professor Jackson, a white musicologist, watched a video of that speech and felt a swell of anger. His fellow scholars stood accused, some by name, of constructing a white “witness protection program” and shrugging off Schenker’s racism. That struck him as unfair and inaccurate, as some had explored Schenker’s oft-hateful views on race and ethnicity.

A tenured music theory professor, Professor Jackson was the grandson of Jewish émigrés and had lost many relatives in the Holocaust. He had a singular passion: He searched out lost works by Jewish composers hounded and killed by the Nazis.

‘I’m Speaking Out:’ Calgary Firefighters Allege Decades of Racism

Of note:

When Chris Coy became Calgary’s first Black firefighter 25 years ago, his heroic vision of the profession was almost immediately upended.

First, he said, during training he was hazed more than his colleagues, strapped to a stretcher against his will and repeatedly doused with a fire hose. Then there were the co-workers who ostracized him at lunch. Throughout his career, he said, fellow firefighters used a racial slur directed at Black people.

For years, Mr. Coy said he suffered in silence as he feared speaking out would mean dismissal, or, worse, other firefighters not shielding him from danger in the field.

But since retiring in December, Mr. Coy has begun speaking publicly about what he said was decades of racially motived physical and verbal abuse, joining a group of current and former firefighters who have been voicing similar grievances. The city’s mayor and fire chief have acknowledged the racism within the department and pledged to address it.

“Here in Canada we are proud and sometimes smug about our commitment to diversity,” Naheed Nenshi, Calgary’s mayor, said in an interview. “I don’t want anyone who gets a paycheck I sign to feel that they aren’t valued because of the color of their skin.”

In Canada, a country that prides itself on its liberal humanism and multiculturalism, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made reconciling with Indigenous peoples an early priority of his premiership. Now, the country has been undergoing a national reckoning about institutional racism in its city halls, law enforcement and cultural institutions, particularly since the global uprising for Black rights spurred by last year’s police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Brenda Lucki, the chief of Canada’s storied national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was recently forced to walk back her previous denials of systemic racism within the force. Mr. Trudeau was among those arguing that police forces across the country were grappling with systemic racism.

While there have been complaints of discrimination in other fire departments in Canada, Calgary has become a high-profile case. The accusations of racism at the fire department were first reported by the CBC, the national broadcaster.

B.C. premier ‘alarmed’ by systemic racism allegations, promises anti-racism law

To watch and see similarities and differences with other provinces:

British Columbia’s premier says the government is working on anti-racism legislation that may be introduced this year.

John Horgan also said Wednesday he was “alarmed” to hear allegations of racism at the Royal B.C. Museum, which should be a welcome and respectful place for all Canadians.

Horgan said Melanie Mark, the minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, is working with the Public Service Agency to ensure allegations of racism are followed up on as part of its investigation.

He said the museum’s board and senior staff have taken multiple allegations of racism by employees seriously and the findings of the investigation will be made public.

The resignation of Jack Lohman, the chief executive officer of the museum, was announced earlier this week after nine years in the position.

In a news release, the museum’s board of directors said Lohman’s departure on Friday was “mutually agreed” to be in the best interests of the organization as it “addresses current internal issues,” without elaborating.

Last month, the First Nations Leadership Council said in a statement that it was “disturbed by several recent media reports” alleging “ongoing systemic racism and toxic working conditions” at the museum.

The museum said Lohman was not available for comment this week and board chair Daniel Muzyka would not be available until Thursday.

Horgan said Mark is well placed to help the museum, which operates as a Crown corporation.

“Nobody takes this more seriously than minister Mark and I’m grateful that she is in place at this difficult time for not just the leadership, of course, at the museum but (for) all of those across British Columbia who look so fondly at the museum as a public asset, a real jewel for all British Columbians,” he said.

Horgan says a revitalization plan for the museum is underway as the province works with the federal government to understand the value of the facility’s archival materials.

“We need to have a respectful workplace, we need to make sure that it’s open for everyone to come, free of persecution or any hints of racism.”

Muzyka will serve as acting CEO until a replacement is found for Lohman, who was described by the board as “an internationally recognized expert in museums.”

It said “the board of directors acknowledges, with appreciation, his nine years of vision and service.”

Source: B.C. premier ‘alarmed’ by systemic racism allegations, promises anti-racism law