Historic levels of hate crimes are a threat to U.S. democracy, Lipstadt says

Of note:

The historic levels of hate crimes in the U.S. were devastatingly illustrated with a racist mass shooting last weekend at a supermarket that took 10 lives in a mostly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. At the forefront of a global fight against hatred and racism is a special U.S. envoy, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt. Her mandate at the State Department is to monitor and combat antisemitism.

DEBORAH LIPSTADT: But anti-Semitism morphs into other hatred.

FADEL: And when she and I spoke, we discussed how ugly prejudices in one community can feed and grow hate in another.

LIPSTADT: The rising threat of anti-Semitism, the rising threat of racism, the rising degree of conspiratorial thinking, it’s not just a threat to the welfare of specific groups in this country – we saw it against the African American community in a tragic, tragic way this past week – but it’s a national security threat. It’s a threat to our communal welfare. And the need is immediate. And the need is great.

FADEL: Since the attack in Buffalo, we’ve been hearing a lot about this racist conspiracy, the replacement theory. And when I hear that, I think back to Charlottesville, nearly five years ago, when we watched neo-Nazis and white supremacists march with torches and chant, Jews will not replace us. Can you just explain this debunked and racist conspiracy and its danger?

LIPSTADT: Sure. There is a belief amongst people such as the killer in Buffalo and too many others like him. And what they argue is that there is a concerted effort, a plan, a scheme to replace, to destroy white Christian culture, to turn white Christians into a minority by flooding their countries with either people from Africa, Muslims – in this country, people from, quote-unquote, “south of the border” – and to render white Christians a minority. But there’s something else that motivates them or that is part of that theory. They look upon people of color as inferior to white Christians. There has to be someone behind them making this happen. They are the puppets. But who is the puppeteer? And some of them will immediately say, it is the Jew, because in their eyes, Jews are not white. Or they will look for someone whom they believe has the financial resources, the malicious smarts, the ability to be – though small in number, to do this thing, to make this thing happen and to do it secretly. And they will come upon the Jews.

FADEL: And this idea, this conspiracy that has no truth to it, it’s not fringe anymore. It doesn’t feel fringe anymore.

LIPSTADT: You’re absolutely correct. There is an increasing percentage of the American population who believe this is really happening and who think that America’s identity is under threat. And whether they read it online, whether they hear it in the media, whether they hear it from certain politicians – but they believe it. This young man who committed this horrendous, horrendous act in Buffalo, he was radicalized online. Now, maybe in his home, you know, he heard certain things that made him amenable to these ideas. But it’s out there. And people have to recognize that it’s this panoply of hatreds that constitute this threat to our democracy and threat to our country and to national security and foreign countries as well.

FADEL: Your mandate is global, and we’re talking about the danger here in the U.S. But when you look at the world, how prevalent is this right now in 2022?

LIPSTADT: It’s extremely prevalent. And my mandate, of course, is global. I’m based in the State Department. But it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a strict dividing line. Or take Buffalo – the killer in Buffalo, the murderer in Buffalo, looked at, as a model, the Christchurch shooter who murdered people in the mosques. He plagiarized what he had written. He also said he had been inspired by the shooter in Halle, Germany, who, two years ago, on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year – tried to attack a synagogue in which there were 70 or 80 worshippers. And but for a lock on the door, we would have had the largest massacre of Jews on German soil since the Holocaust. So it is a global threat, including in our own country.

FADEL: But I guess I struggle with – how do you combat an idea, whether true or not? – because you can’t imprison an idea out of existence. You can’t kill an idea out of existence. I mean, what do you do practically?

LIPSTADT: I’m a teacher. And I hope I can reach people. I’m not going to be able to change the minds of people who would pick up a gun, put themselves in full body armor and go to a supermarket on a weekend afternoon, where people are buying groceries and buying snacks to watch their nighttime movies or taking their kids for ice cream, and murder them. Those people I can’t reach. But I want to reach the people who don’t really understand this threat, the nature, the danger of these ideas and get them to understand and get them to understand something else as well. And this comes from my years of study and teaching and research about the Holocaust. The Nazis in Germany didn’t come into office in January, 1933, with a plan to murder Jews and saying, OK, we’re going to have gas chambers. Maybe some of them had that in the back of their mind, but that wasn’t what they were planning. They tested. They started first by burning books in May. Then they threw Jews out of civil service positions. And then, in 1935, they deprived them of their citizenship. And slowly but surely, in 1938, they had a nationwide destruction of Jewish property and killing of Jews. And they tested how far they can go. When can we be stopped? So you can’t wait until a Buffalo to try to stop it. You’ve got to stop it before.

FADEL: Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt is the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Thank you so much for your time.

Source: Historic levels of hate crimes are a threat to U.S. democracy, Lipstadt says

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.

Govender: B.C.’s new anti-racism legislation allows us to turn intersectional data into systemic change

From BC’s Human Rights Commissioner:

The “grandmother perspective” to data collection, which I first learned from Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation, suggests that government should collect data as a grandmother would collect information about her family: to better care for them, rather than exercise control with a big-brother mentality. This perspective formed the basis for the recent recommendations on disaggregated data collection from British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner to the provincial government.

A grandmother collects her grandchildren’s stories like pencil marks on the wall, measuring their growth. Data can also tell a story – one that helps us to understand people’s needs at a community level. Policy makers, too, need good information to design good law, policy and services.

This week, the B.C. government introduced the Anti-Racism Data Act, new legislation to collect disaggregated demographic data. The new law, if passed, facilitates the collection of personal information for the purposes of identifying systemic racism and advancing racial equity.

Disaggregated demographic data are information based on different aspects of our identities: for example, information broken down by race, gender or educational status. While the Statistics Canada census already collects disaggregated data in relation to the general population, this new law will facilitate the collection of such data in relation to government policies, practices and services, such as health care. Comparing statistics based on these two datasets can reveal patterns and inequalities. Information about inequalities, in turn, can help us design better policies to tackle systemic discrimination. We can’t act on what we don’t know.

B.C. opens consultation on anti-racism legislation as groups praise data collection

Importantly, data must be collected on more than just racism in order to be effective. If we can’t understand how gender, race, age and other factors work together or intersect to inform our experiences in the world – and more accurately, how sexism, racism, ageism, ableism and so on inform our experiences – then we won’t be able to create good public policy that meets people’s real needs.

Race-based data only tell part of the story. For example, we know that in Canada, racialized men earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by white men, according to a 2019 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report. But that gap widens significantly for racialized women, Indigenous women, transgender women and women with disabilities. Indeed, racialized women earn only 59 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Treating all racialized people as a homogenous group not only obscures the problem, but it also reinforces it by leading to solutions that are only tailored to the experiences of the dominant subgroup within that category.

We may identify racist stereotypes as being one of the barriers contributing to the wage gap. But we also need to understand that stereotypes of racialized women may be quite different than stereotypes of racialized men. Ignoring these gendered differences silences and omits the experiences of racialized women. We need to truly understand the scope and complexity of the wage gap in order to solve it; intersectional data collection and analysis is key to that end.

However, there is a serious downside to collecting all this information. Despite its power to focus the gaze of policy makers on real world inequities, data also have the power to reinforce negative stereotypes, and some people have legitimate concerns about sharing this information.

In recent recommendations from my office, we called on the provincial government to put control over data in the hands of those from whom the data are being collected. For example, disaggregated demographic data about a First Nation should only be collected in service of that community and upon the consent of that Nation, and used at their direction. The new legislation creates advisory roles for those who are directly impacted to embed this democratic approach to data and to counter any harms it may cause.

For decades, racialized communities, scholars and activists have been calling for this kind of legislation. Over the last two years, the public calls for disaggregated-data collection have grown louder. Protests against police brutality, a growing awareness of the ways in which racism impacts health outcomes, including those of COVID-19, and a movement to push back on the mainstream emergence of white nationalism have brought systemic racism into the consciousness of the masses. While data may not be the most glamorous call to action, they may be one of the most fruitful.

The new legislation is an important marker of our growth toward a more equal society. However, data collection is just one pencil mark on the wall; the next milestone to measure will be whether we are able to use it to create real social change. Implementation requires using intersectional data and a meaningful community governance model to turn information into action.

Kasari Govender is British Columbia’s first independent Human Rights Commissioner. BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in the province by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures.

Source: B.C.’s new anti-racism legislation allows us to turn intersectional data into systemic change

Immigration Canada acts to end racism, cultural bias among employees

Of note:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is conducting a study to explore potential cultural bias shown by its employees when it comes to processing visa applications at the country’s points of entry, according to a department spokesperson.

The study comes in response to a survey examining workplace racism at IRCC released last year that revealed multiple reports of racist “microagressions” by employees and supervisors.

Participants interviewed said that some of the overt and subtle racism they have witnessed by both employees and decision makers at IRCC “can and probably must impact case processing.”

The department has also made it mandatory for employees and executives to take unconscious bias training, and instituted a requirement for senior staff to take a specific course on inclusive hiring practices as a prerequisite for obtaining their delegated authority to sign financial and staffing decisions.

In addition, said spokesperson Jeffrey MacDonald, IRCC is appointing anti-racism representatives in each sector of the department to support the work of a newly-established Anti-Racism Task Force and has created a Black Employee Network to ensure Black voices are heard in driving change.

“We must actively fight racism and continue to work tirelessly to foster a culture of inclusion, diversity, and respect…but actions speak louder than words,” MacDonald told New Canadian Media through email.

MacDonald said IRCC will be hiring an independent firm to do an Employment System Review (ESR). The ESR will identify new solutions in core areas such as people management practices and accountability.

IRCC also plans to release its Anti-Racism Strategy and action plan later this year.

Source: Immigration Canada acts to end racism, cultural bias among employees

Hundreds march downtown calling for end to racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration system

More from the Migrant Rights Network:

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Toronto Sunday calling for an end to racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration system.

The demonstration organized by The Migrant Rights Network gathered near Toronto’s City Hall before taking their message to the streets, briefly blocking some downtown intersections.

The group called on the federal government to grant citizenship to an estimated 1.6 million migrant and undocumented workers in Canada.

Syed Hussan, executive director of the of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said migrant and undocumented workers are afraid to assert their rights and speak out about the exploitation they may face on the job.

“You can be made homeless because you live in employer-provided housing, you can be kicked out of the country, you’re not allowed to get another job,” Hussan said.

“To have a fair society, everyone must have equal rights. The only way to have equal rights, is if every resident in the country has the same citizenship rights and immigration status.”

Tina Kusbiantoro came to Canada from Indonesia more than three years ago and says not being able to secure permanent residency has been challenging.

“We have no equal rights and then we’re separated from our families a long time … we cannot access the health care and we don’t vote,” Kusbiantoro said.

A woman who identified herself only as Jane tells CTV News Toronto she feels ignored and disappointed in the immigration system.

Jane has been working as a personal support worker since arriving from Uganda.

“We have been working hard through the pandemic to ensure that we give services to vulnerable people who cannot help themselves,” Jane said.

“Being denied…it’s a kind of racism. I feel so bad, I feel so betrayed.”

Migrant rights activists were joined by a group from Community Solidarity Toronto, who rallied Sunday to take a stand against racism and what they see as the growth of Canada’s far right.

Source: Hundreds march downtown calling for end to racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration system

Paradkar: Scholar Strike 2022: Why professors and students will hit the streets in a show of resistance

The “woke” crowd in action:

The intersection of Bond and Gould streets in Toronto, which housed the statue of Egerton Ryerson for 132 years only to see it toppled last year, will be the starting point of a walking tour on Wednesday. 

Call it our very own tour de résistance, marking the last of the three-day Scholar Strike that begins March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination and Racism. It’s a labour action where scholars, activists and students from across the country will first participate in two days of virtual “teach-ins” that are free and open to the public, and then walk through the downtown core at various historical sites of resistance to oppression.

They will be protesting state violence against Black, Indigenous and racialized people and demanding, among other things, the defunding and abolition of police and prisons, and defunding of institutions such as Children’s Aid Societies, instead transferring funds to communities that offer care and affordable housing, and that work to eradicate poverty.

A running theme through the three-day strike is breaking down silos and drawing connections — between scholars and street-level organizers, between historical and current resistance movements, between anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, between those who experience oppression and those who don’t. 

“We want to be able to say that this resistance movement is not against you. It’s about finding ways to be together,” said Mikinaak Migwans, assistant professor of Indigenous contemporary art in Canada and curator at the Art Museum, University of Toronto. The walking tour is Migwans’s brainchild. Migwans is Anishinaabekwe of the Wikwemikong unceded territory.

In the wake of the Black uprisings of 2020, the names Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Eishia Hudson, Chantel Moore, D’Andre Campbell, Ejaz Choudry were among those that began circulating around Canada to humanize and remember victims of police brutality. Two years later, not only are they all but forgotten by many — we all move on from crisis to next shiny crisis — but new names, new bodies have piled on the deck.

Anthony Aust, Moses Erhirhie, Trent Firth, Lionel Ernest Grey, Braden Herman, Julian Jones are some. As are Jared Lowndes, Sheffield Matthews, Dillon McDonald, Coco Ritchie and Latjor Tuel. 

They are among those Black, Indigenous or racialized people killed by police, or who died in police custody since the 2020 reckoning, that organizers from University of Toronto see as the genesis of this second Scholar Strike.

Tuel was experiencing mental distress when he was killed by Edmonton police in February even while various police handled Ottawa’s often violent convoy protesters with kid gloves. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating Tuel’s killing. Edmonton police say they followed all protocols. They always say that. 

Given the worsening global context of a continuing pandemic, growing authoritarianism, war and climate change, the Scholar Strike launches with a discussion on the rise of ultra-right fascism, racism and white ethno-nationalism, said Beverly Bain, a professor of women and gender studies in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga, who is one of the main organizers.

About 40 speakers will address topics such as harm reduction, migrants and borders and invasion of Indigenous territories. These sessions offer a way to connect the ivory tower to the streets.

“We can no longer afford to have this bifurcation of the university as a site of knowledge only and the community and activism as something different,” Bain said. “Many of us in the universities are scholar activists and organizers.”

Since the first Scholar Strike that Bain co-organized in 2020 that called for defunding of police, police budgets have grown. The Toronto police operating budget sits at a whopping $1.1 billion in 2022 after the city approved a $25-million increase. 

Police shootings and killings across the country have continued unabated. More than half the 64 police shootings in 2021 involved Indigenous people. 

Justice-seeking protests can be shrugged off as a series of disjointed events that allow people to let off steam or express anger over a particular incident or project, when in fact they are continuous and connected to each other by history and geography.

The United Nations designated March 21 as a day against racial discrimination because it commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, when South African police killed 69 people and wounded 180 during a peaceful protest against apartheid. 

The walking tour on March 23 also offers connects current movements to historical resistance. 

“There has always been resistance in our communities from the time of arrival onwards,” said organizer Kristen Bos, assistant professor of Historical Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, who is Métis. “That’s why the police exist, right? Like, that’s why they were literally created just in this country to stamp out Indigenous resistance.”

The tour sites include Trinity Bellwoods and Alexandra Park, where police violently destroyed encampments of unhoused people last year. Also, Christie Pits, which in 1933 saw violence break out between a baseball team that was mainly Jewish against members of what was called the Swastika Club, who told the Toronto Daily Star then they wanted “to get the Jews out of the park.”

Speakers on each site will address the injustices and connect them to larger movements. 

For instance, speakers will protest at Queen’s Park, the site of the Northwest Rebellion Monument to the officers who died suppressing an uprising led by Métis leader Louis Riel in 1885. Riel was tried and executed after being captured.

In 1920, when the RCMP was created out of the North-West Mounted Police, the old division headquarters were in the Post Office Building at 6 Charles St. E. in Toronto. Here, speakers will mark the century since the RCMP blocked Six Nations resistance against the dissolving of traditional governance and connect it to current 1492 Landback Lane, where Ontario is encroaching on and supporting a proposed real estate development on traditional land of Six Nations of the Grand River, near what we now call Caledonia.

At Yonge and College Streets, the site of the 1992 Yonge St. uprising after the police killing of Raymond Lawrence, speakers including activist-journalist Desmond Cole will talk about the history of the Black Action Defense Committee.

A big part of this tour, Bos said, is “about remembering our collective history and about reclaiming public space. So that we should be free to feel safe in parks as Black and Indigenous peoples and on campuses and on streets.”

It ends at the University of Toronto, where Bain will challenge the university’s reliance on institutions such as police in its approach to mental health issues and disproportionate policing of students of colour, and demand a police-free campus. 

“Our overall goals for this are to build collective memory and to build collective capacity to be safely and supportively together on this land,” Migwans said.

Source: Scholar Strike 2022: Why professors and students will hit the streets in a show of resistance

Latif: Looking for a promotion? You may not get one if you are BIPOC in Canada

Of note, focussing on the public service, rather than broader society.

The public service figure of only 1.6 percent of executives being Black ignores the fact that Chinese EX are also only 1.6 percent and most other visible minority groups have lower representation.

While the “government is simply not doing enough or moving fast enough,”  one also needs to acknowledge the extent to which the public service at all levels has become more diverse following the Employment Equity Act and how reporting has improved through disaggregated data for visible minority and other groups:

Imagine being stuck in the same position for 30 years with no upward movement, despite having consistently good performance reviews and upscaling your learning with advanced degrees. Wouldn’t that inequity have a negative effect on your mental health and well-being?

Well, this is a reality for many Canadians of colour. 

2021 Edelman survey on business and racial justice in Canada found that a majority of those surveyed (about 56 per cent) have either witnessed or experienced racism in their organization. 

What makes this so concerning is that we have both federal and provinciallegislation that prohibits this type of discrimination. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission clearly states that every person has “a right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination because of race.” 

Racial discrimination can happen at either the individual or systemic level. At the individual level, biases lead to decisions about who is invited and valued; at the systemic/structural level, existing policies and practices in an organization can continue to perpetuate racial inequities.

This has many serious implications. Even after 400 years, Black Canadians are still not granted equal participation in society, and this extends to the workforce. For example, there is a disproportionate underrepresentation in management positions for Black federal public service employees, with only 1.6 per cent of Black workers in executive roles. It’s a staggering figure. A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2020 on behalf of Black federal employees, seeking long-term solutions to address systemic racism and discrimination in the Public Service of Canada. 

Remember the scenario I mentioned in the beginning? Kofi Achampong, a strategic and government relations adviser to the Black Class Action Group, echoed this unfortunate situation in an interview with me. He said scenarios like these “have many implications — loss of income, pension calculations and certainly the mental health toll.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly acknowledged existing inequities, committing to “a better future for Black Canadians, a future where they experience full and equal participation in society across political, social and economic life.” But Achampong finds that government is simply not doing enough or moving fast enough. 

“The government has a positive obligation as an employer to address these kinds of issues in the workplace,” said Achampong. “If you know for a fact — and they’ve known for decades — that we aren’t recruiting diverse people, especially at senior levels, then we have to examine who is getting interviews, who is ultimately getting hired or appointed, and ask: Have we taken appropriate corrective action? To be fair, it’s not just the federal government. Successive governments across the country and jurisdictions have long known about these issues, and have done little to nothing. It’s really a form of negligence that’s completely inconsistent with the Canada we’re trying to create and the wealth of diverse talent that exists in this country.” 

The lack of upward employment mobility in racial groups is troublesome. This risks the continuation of generational poverty within our communities: We keep people — especially Black people — down, and prevent them from seeking better opportunities to elevate their social and economic positions in society.

Tomorrow marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Government statements of solidarity are not enough; Canada is still failing to achieve equality and equity in the workplace. Marking the day with statements acknowledging the discrimination Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities and religious minorities face in Canada every day is important. However, if governments and organizations do not provide tangible change, these are simply words dying a slow death on paper.

Source: Looking for a promotion? You may not get one if you are BIPOC in Canada

Quebec students feel there’s ‘no future’ for them due to religious symbols law, study suggests

Of note. Interviews, not a poll, selection bias likely at play, but nevertheless of note (article in Le Devoir below):

A new study looking into how university students feel about Quebec’s religious symbols law is painting a bleak picture, with many saying they’ve lost faith in the province and plan to leave.

The study, completed by researchers from two Montreal-based universities, asked post-secondary students, recent graduates and prospective students about their feelings on Bill 21.

The bill, also known as Quebec’s Laicity Act, became law in June 2019. It banned some civil servants, including teachers, police officers and government prosecutors, from wearing religious symbols at work within the province.

The study acknowledged the sample size is “relatively small” — 629 respondents, polled from Oct. 2020 through to Nov. 2021 — and has a “strong possibility of selection bias,” as those who feel more strongly about Bill 21 are more likely to have responded to the survey.

However, the authors noted that respondents were “relatively diverse” and attended both French and English institutions from across the province.

Only about 28 per cent of respondents said they wore some form of religious symbol.

“We were expecting a more balanced diversity of responses. We thought we would get more people in favour of the law,” said Elizabeth Elbourne, an associate professor of history at McGill and one of the researchers behind the study.

“There’s a really interesting generational gap. We were quite struck.”‘I have no future in Quebec’

Respondents in Elbourne’s study were invited to write-in additional comments. Many said they experienced increased racism since the law was introduced.

“I think that the bill — despite the fact that many people don’t mean it this way — in practice, can give permission to discriminate,” she said.

Over 34 per cent of respondents — including those who did not wear a religious symbol — reported experiencing increased discrimination since the law was passed. That number jumps to 56.5 per cent for those who do wear religious symbols.

“It used to happen to me occasionally. Now it happens almost every time I go out,” said one Université de Montréal student who wears a hijab.

One McGill education student described seeing Bill 21 invoked in the classroom while on a work placement during their studies.

“[I] watched students and the teacher ridicule a Muslim girl for wearing a hijab. The teacher said with Bill 21, you can’t dress like that,” the respondent wrote. “The girl was mortified and silent and just 11 years old.”

Even those outside of law and education, the fields most impacted by the law, reported feeling its effects.

“I have had some job interviews where I could immediately tell that the person lost interest in my application as soon as they saw me with my headscarf,” said a Concordia engineering student.

Moving provinces seen as ‘only solution’

As a result, 69.5 per cent of the students polled who wear a religious symbol said they were likely to leave the province for work.

“I didn’t even get a chance to start my career properly,” lamented one McGill education student who wears a hijab.

“The only solution I am strongly considering is to move to another province.”

Weeam Ben Rejeb is one of those considering the move. The McGill law student hoped to become a prosecutor, but would be banned due to her hijab.

“Even though I could practice in the private sector, it’s more about what this law is saying about me,” she said.

Ben Rejeb described Bill 21 as an “insult,” saying it suggested that she wouldn’t be able to do her job because of what she chose to wear.

“It’s extremely offensive,” she said. “We are essentially saying we’re not intelligent enough or impartial enough to be able to be neutral judges or teachers.”

Can’t work with ‘clean conscience’

They’re not the only ones considering leaving.

Forty-six per cent of the students who don’t wear religious symbols said they were also planning to leave Quebec due to Bill 21, saying they don’t want to participate in a system that discriminates against their colleagues.

“I refuse to work in a place where my peers cannot or will be punished for expressing themselves,” said one education student.

“I don’t feel that I can be a teacher here in Quebec and have a clean conscience while doing so,” wrote another.

“I chose Canada because I believed their laws aligned with my liberal beliefs,” wrote a Concordia law student who does not wear a religious symbol. “Now I am very disappointed and rethinking everything.”

Elbourne, the researcher who worked on the study, said she sees the potential exodus of students having a “serious impact” on the province’s education system.

“I think it’s going to make it harder to recruit teachers. And I also think, if we’re looking at the people leaving — are people from the outside going to want to come to Quebec?” Elbourne said.

As for how they feel about Quebec, 70.3 per cent of all respondents said they had a worse perception of the province since the law passed.

“I despise Quebec now,” wrote one McGill education student who wears a hijab. “A province which has absolutely no respect for me or my people to the point that they’d like to take my livelihood away deserves no love.”

“We’re racist af (as f–k),” wrote another.

Some support for Bill 21, survey shows

Not everyone was against the law, however. While the study notes that the “vast majority of people … were critical or divided” on Bill 21, there were also those who supported the measure.

One McGill education student hoped the bill would “encourage all faiths to embrace secular civic life” in Quebec.

“Hopefully we will see a new era in which students are able to attend school without being subjected to symbols of patriarchal religious oppression on their teachers,” they wrote.

One McGill law student said their family “escaped” a country that forced women to wear the hjiab. “We are free here,” they wrote.

A PhD student in education at McGill said they came from a conservative and religious part of the United States and would like to see something similar there.

“[Bill 21] is a wonderful step towards women’s liberation and freedom,” they wrote. “I wish my state would pass a similar bill.”

Ben Rejeb, the law student, acknowledged that Bill 21 does have widespread support in the province — especially in more rural regions — but questioned why that was.

“If all that you know about Muslims is what you see on TV … then it makes sense why you might have these fears,” she said.

Ben Rejeb said that with more education, she believes that most Quebecers would change their minds about supporting the law, though she fears many have already moved on.

“I feel like most of my peers, and Quebec society in general, has kind of forgotten about this and is going on with their lives and not really thinking about it because it doesn’t affect them personally,” she said.

“All of us who are living in Quebec right now are complicit in allowing this bill to continue to exist.”

Source: Quebec students feel there’s ‘no future’ for them due to religious symbols law, study suggests

Un grand nombre d’étudiants en enseignement et en droit projettent de faire leur vie hors de portée de la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État québécois — en commençant par ceux portant un signe religieux, mais pas seulement eux.

Près de trois ans après l’adoption de la loi 21, 73,9 % des futurs, actuels ou anciens étudiants en enseignement qui portent un signe religieux et 54 % des futurs, actuels ou anciens étudiants en droit qui portent un signe religieux réfléchissent à l’idée de quitter le Québec, peut-on lire dans un rapport de recherche signée par les professeures Elizabeth Elbourne (Université McGill) et Kimberley Manning (Université Concordia).

Celles-ci se sont employées à mesurer l’incidence de la loi 21 sur les projets de vie d’étudiants et de diplômés en enseignement et en droit. Pour y arriver, elles ont notamment distribué un questionnaire sur les campus des collèges et des universités, que 629 personnes ont rempli entre le 13 octobre 2020 et le 9 novembre 2021. « L’échantillonnage est relativement petit et pas nécessairement représentatif de l’ensemble des étudiants du Québec en droit et en éducation », précisent-elles.

L’idée de tourner le dos au Québec trotte aussi dans la tête de plusieurs étudiants et diplômés qui ne portent pas de signe religieux. En effet, 46 % des personnes interrogées se disent être « très ou assez susceptibles de chercher du travail ailleurs qu’au Québec à cause de la loi 21 ».

« Ce ne sont pas seulement les gens qui portent un symbole religieux, mais ce sont les membres de leur famille, ce sont leurs amis, ce sont leurs camarades de classe qui repensent leur carrière, se demandent s’ils vont rester au Québec, et cela se répercute sur leur impression générale du Québec », soutient Kimberley Manning.

D’autres, moins nombreux, se résigneraient plutôt à revoir leurs plans de carrière, croyant — parfois à tort — ne pas pouvoir aller au bout de leurs ambitions professionnelles en raison de la loi 21.

« Au lieu d’aller en droit, je vais essayer de rentrer en psychologie. Je voulais être enseignante de droit au niveau universitaire », a souligné une collégienne portant le hidjab.

« Je comptais terminer mes études en droit ou enseigner à l’université, mais j’ai changé mes plans parce que je n’ai pas d’avenir au Québec dans ces domaines », a affirmé une étudiante inscrite au programme Droit et société de l’Université Concordia. La femme, qui porte aussi le voile islamique couvrant les cheveux, les oreilles et le cou, dit ne pas pouvoir se résoudre à demander à son mari de renoncer à son emploi et à déraciner leurs trois enfants de Montréal, « une ville que nous aimons et dans laquelle nous avons vécu la majeure partie de notre vie ».

La loi 21 interdit à certains employés de l’État québécois, dont les policiers, les procureurs, les gardiens de prison, les enseignants et les directeurs d’école primaire ou secondaire publique de porter un signe religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions. Les avocats de pratique privée et les professeurs de cégep ou d’université ne sont pas assujettis à l’interdiction du port de signe religieux.

Épisodes de discrimination

Par ailleurs, les chercheuses notent une montée de l’islamophobie et de l’antisémitisme depuis l’adoption de la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État par l’Assemblée nationale, en juin 2019.

Pas moins de 76,2 % des femmes portant le hidjab ou un foulard interrogées dans le cadre du projet de recherche ont rapporté avoir subi de la discrimination. Elizabeth Elbourne dit avoir été « surprise par les expériences de discrimination vécue — harcèlement dans la rue, etc. » relatées par les étudiants au fil de ses travaux.

Les autrices prennent soin de signaler « une forte possibilité [de] biais de sélection en faveur de ceux opposés à la Loi » dans les résultats du sondage, qui serait causé par le « haut taux de réponse dans la région de Montréal, où se concentrent les minorités religieuses plus que partout ailleurs au Québec, et des personnes portant des signes religieux visibles ».

Cela dit, « le fait que peu de personnes aient répondu afin d’exprimer un fort soutien à la Loi est un élément significatif en lui-même », estiment-elles.

Source: La loi 21, source de craintes pour des étudiants en droit et en enseignement

Ukraine: How citizenship and race play out in refugees’ movements in Europe

More nuanced explanation that in most articles:

As millions of refugees flee Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion, one question that has been raised is: Why have Ukrainians been welcomed into eastern Europe, unlike Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and Eritreans? Is it because they are white?

Criticisms imply that the European Union treats refugees from the Global South differently, and that such treatment is based on race. Critics also highlight that Romania and Poland’s hospitality to Ukrainians stands in stark contrast to their past reluctance to accommodate refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Al Jazeera looks at the treatment of Black and Indian refugees at the Polish border.

Yet hasty interpretations that single out race as the primary force in refugee favouritism simplify geopolitical realities. They also ignore the EU legislative framework that produces categories of refugees based on nationality and citizenship.

Europe rests on a hierarchy of nations, with older EU members at the top of the pile followed by new members, and then countries being considered for membership in the EU. At the bottom of the pile is everyone else.

Geopolitics play a role

Commitments to welcoming one million Ukrainians to Polandand 500,000 to Romania are linked to these countries’ geographical proximity to the Ukrainian border.

Refugees usually head to the closest safe place. Think of the Syrian war: neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan resettled the largest number of Syrians. Turkey hosts close to four million, Lebanon over 800,000 and Jordan close to 700,000

Similarly, more than half of Eritrean refugees are in neighbouring Ethiopia and Sudan. Bangladesh also hosts the majority of Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar.

Ethnic composition and regional labour market flows also play a role. Poland is the primary EU destination country for Ukrainian migrants. By the end of 2020, a record number of a million and a half Ukrainians had migrated to Poland for work. 

In Ukraine, close to 160,000 people are ethnic Hungarians, and over 150,000 are of the Romanian minority. The Union of the Ukrainians in Romania is an ethnically based political party with a seat in the national parliament.

Ukrainians regularly cross regional borders for personal reasons, such as accessing medical care or visiting family.

Pre-existing affinities

Eastern Europe shares a common Soviet history and after the end of the Cold War in 1989, an anti-Russian sentiment. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, most eastern European states rejected communist ideas as being Russian-centric. Integration into the West and the adoption of liberal ideas of freedom, free market and democracy, have become synonymous with opposing Russian neo-imperialism.

Solidarity based on a similar history of oppression is common across the former Eastern Bloc countries (the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary). A shared memory of Russian aggression makes the pain of Ukrainians more intelligible to other eastern Europeans.

Linguistic similarities between Ukrainian and Polish make Poland more accessible to Ukrainian migrants. Both languages are Slavic and have long influenced each other. The Polish and Ukrainians close to the border largely understand what each other is saying.

Most countries from the former Eastern Bloc are Christian Orthodox. Not only is Christian Orthodoxy intertwined with national identity but Orthodoxy has also flourished since the fall of Communism. In Ukraine, about 39 per cent of the population self-identified as Orthodox in 1991 — by 2015, the number had doubled.

Ukraine’s position

Ukraine is not a member of the EU, but it is a signatory to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the 2014 EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

The 2014 Association Agreement was key in defining Ukraine as a European country with shared common history and values. It also paved the way for granting Ukrainians visa-free access to the Schengen Area, which comprises all the EU members except Ireland, as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, for up to 90 days.

Both agreements outline the foreign policy expectations of countries on the path to EU integration. These agreements legally produce different categories of migrants. Ukrainians are on the path to integration into the European labour market, unlike third-country nationals, defined as non-citizens without the right to free movement in the EU.

Through a budget of 15.4 billion euros, the ENP supports economic and social reforms for neighbouring countries of the EU including Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. 

Since 2014, the ENP has funnelled more than 200 million eurosto help Ukraine’s path to EU integration. Ukraine has received over 17 billion euros in grants and loans, inclusive of financial supports for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortress Europe

With central and eastern European member states joining the EU in 2004, 2007 and 2013, eastern Europe has became the bordering outskirts of the EU. And so recent refugee flows have to be managed in the peripheral east, now tasked with militarizing their borders and keeping refugees out.

In contrast to the warm welcome granted to Ukrainian refugees, Poland has recently let Iraqi and Afghani refugees freeze to deathat its eastern border. It was the EU that tripled the border management funds to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to reduce access to asylum, and increase border push-backs and detentions. 

Citizenship or race?

The mistreatment of foreign nationals fleeing Ukraine has been attributed to race.

“Black people” and “African students” are terms interchangeably used to describe those being held back at borders or being prevented from boarding evacuation buses. 

Ukraine has continued the former Soviet tradition of regularly recruiting Global South students within the medical field. India, Morocco, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, China, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Uzbekistan are the top 10 countries of origin for international students in Ukraine

Much of eastern Europe is made out of racially homogeneous countries, where non-citizens are often visibly non-white. Using a racial lens to understand how borders respond to the attempts of international students to cross them diverts attention from citizenship regimes in allocating rights. 

It also minimizes the larger problem at hand — the precarious status of temporary residents, including international students, who inhabit a marginal position by bureaucratic design.

Citizenship becomes the primary basis of exclusion. It is a related phenomenon that citizenship gets descriptively associated with race.

We do not intend to legitimize the racist and discriminatory coverage that has surfaced in relation to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

Race does matter in refugee favouritism. But the opening of refugee corridors to Ukraine’s neighbours has little to do with race and more to do with geopolitical and citizenship regimes that determine freedom of movement within Europe.

Source: Ukraine: How citizenship and race play out in refugees’ movements in Europe

Immigration Canada probing claims of systemic racism at two offices, union says

Notable that these complaints are related to the Montreal call centre, and the pressures described are likely common to most call centres. On the stereotyping mentioned by one staffer regarding “liars,” completely inappropriate but one has to recognize that fraud and misrepresentation occur, and that this may be more prevalent from certain source countries or areas:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is investigating claims of systemic racism at two of its offices, says the union representing its employees.

Meanwhile, the department has hired an outside company, Charron Human Resources, to conduct a workplace audit at IRCC’s call centre in Montreal — the department’s only Canadian call centre — where employees have been working to fulfil the federal government’s commitment to bring in 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan.

The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) — which represents employees at IRCC, Service Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) — says the IRCC’s internal racism probes stem from complaints filed by employees.

The news comes after the IRCC released a damning report late last year. That report cited employees complaining of repeated instances of staff and supervisors using offensive terms with racialized colleagues, and of limited opportunities for advancement for racialized minorities.

“We are going to be proving that there is a national problem at the IRCC across the workplace,” said Crystal Warner, the CEIU’s national executive vice-president.

“IRCC is committed and believes in creating a workplace free from racism, harassment, discrimination and marginalization of any kind,” the department said in a statement, adding it could not comment on the probes due to confidentiality issues.

The union said workplace issues at the Montreal call centre — the subject of Charron Human Resources’ workplace audit — go back years but have been aggravated by Canada’s daunting commitment to bring in 40,000 Afghans after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

“[Staff] are telling us that all the new employees that are getting hired are leaving within a few months because of the pressure to produce, to stay on the call and take the next call,” Warner said.

“You could be on the phone and you could hear someone telling you about a sibling being beheaded or a relative that had been raped and all these horrible situations,” she said, adding employees aren’t permitted to take a moment to decompress before taking the next call.

The investigations came as little surprise to two federal civil servants who, fearing workplace reprisals, spoke to CBC News on the condition they not be named.

One staffer — who is Black — started her career at the IRCC call centre in Montreal in 2017 and now works in a different federal department.

Pressure to produce

She described an office of overworked staff constantly being monitored by management — where the pressure to field as many calls as possible affected everything, even bathroom breaks.

“If you took more than the allotted surplus time that you had in order to do your bodily functions, you would get an email saying, ‘You’re really off your stats today, what’s going on?'” she said.

“Am I supposed to ask like in a kindergarten? Raise my hand and say, ‘Ma’am, can I please go to the bathroom?'”

She reported racist attitudes toward immigration applicants from certain countries — particularly those from Cuba and Nigeria.

“That came from the top, how we were instructed to deal with people from certain countries,” she said. “There was a lot of stereotyping going on … ‘People from this country, people from that country, they’re all liars, you know?'”

The report the IRCC released last October spoke of employees referring to a group of 30 African countries as the “dirty 30.”

‘Plebeian tasks’ left to people of colour, staffer says

The unnamed staffer also said there were few career advancement opportunities at the call centre for people of colour.

“The plebeian tasks were left to the people of obvious ethnic background and the higher-ups were homogeneous in their colour and culture,” she said.

The second employee who spoke to CBC — who is also Black — started his career at the call centre in Montreal in 1998 and now works as an immigration officer.

He said he noticed a reluctance to promote employees of colour within the department over the years. He said he went through about a dozen applications before he got a promotion.

“They would find ways to tell me, ‘You’re not qualified, come and we’ll discuss about the failure and we’ll tell you exactly what to do next,'” he said.

Farahldine Boisclair, director of the IRCC’s anti-racism task force, admitted the department has a lot of work to do.

“Racism is a factor in Canadian life,” Boisclair said.

The department created her position and the task force after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020 triggered widespread protests against police violence targeting people of colour.

She said the department has been working hard to stamp out workplace racism through training for managers. She said IRCC has introduced programs to help emerging talent from racialized minority groups move up the ranks.

“The higher you move up, the less diverse it gets at the top,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is really empower employees to share their experiences with us, in whatever fashion.”

External audit expands scope

According to emails seen by CBC News, the scope of Charron’s audit expanded over the past two months.

A message sent to staff by Charron on Jan. 6 explaining the nature of the audit was limited to employees who had lodged workplace complaints, as identified by an IRCC director-general.

A second email, dated Feb. 7, went to everyone at the call centre. Like the first, it promised to keep all information confidential and suggested interview dates for later in the month.

Charron did not return requests for comment.

The CEIU said it has little faith in the department’s internal processes or its impartiality.

“It’s like you’re your own judge and jury,” Warner said, adding that as a result, many staff choose not to report individual complaints. “If your complaint is founded, you basically get an email saying, ‘We agree that you have been harassed.'”

The union says it intends to file a collective grievance about workplace discrimination and harassment.

It said it has more faith in the external audit performed by Charron since it’s a third party.

Source: Immigration Canada probing claims of systemic racism at two offices, union says