BIPOC realtors find clients refuse to work with them because of their identity: OREA

Interesting and disturbing:

New research from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) shows realtors and their clients are facing racism and discrimination during the home buying and selling process, but there are no efficient ways for consumers to report such incidents.

The Fighting for Fair Housing report released by the provincial real estate body Tuesday says more than one-third of realtors have experienced discrimination or racism and one in four BIPOC say a client has refused to work with them because of their identity.

Two in 10 consumers say they’ve been treated unfairly because of their identity, with those who are Black, Indigenous or of colour and LGBTQ2S+ individuals more likely to report such treatment.

The data has encouraged OREA to push for a process where complaints about racism and discrimination in the sector can easily be registered, investigated and result in stronger penalties.

It also wants the equal treatment of all individuals mandated in the Condominium Act because 43 per cent of realtors say they’ve seen a rental deal fall through because of discrimination.

They’d also like to make home ownership more accessible for all by reducing government-imposed costs on new rental projects and building 99,000 community housing units over the next 10 years.

Source: BIPOC realtors find clients refuse to work with them because of their identity: OREA

McWhorter: Trying to Prove You’re Not a Racist

Useful overview by McWhorter of his sensible views. From a Canadian perspective, some of the issues that he flags also have relevance with respect to Indigenous peoples:

Since I started writing this newsletter, once about every couple of weeks I have received a missive from someone troubled by a controversy involving race, usually in the workplace.

These readers feel that their opponents in these fusses are unfairly tarring them as racist. Typical disputes they find themselves embroiled in include whether a school program should devote itself centrally to antiracism, whether it is fair to hire people ranking skin color over qualifications, whether reparations for slavery in a local context are appropriate and what they should consist of, and whether a piece of art should be deemed racist.

They seek my confirmation that they are in the right, that they are not racist, and presumably want to take that judgment back to the ring as proof that their position is not anti-Black. Sometimes they are under the impression that it would help if I addressed their colleagues over Zoom.

It has occurred to me that I should provide, in this space, an all-purpose response to this kind of letter I get. For starters, I’d like to offer a guide to my positions on the debates my correspondents seem to find themselves in.

To wit:

I do not support treating the word “Negro,” as opposed to the “N-word,” as a slur. “Negro” was not a slur when it was current, and the case for classifying it as one now because it is archaic is quite thin. Why look for something to be offended by?

I do not support calling something “racist” because outcomes for it differ for the (Black) race. For example, I take issue with the idea that there is something “racist” or “biased” about the questions on the SAT.

I do not condemn white authors writing Black fictional characters who speak Black English so long as it’s a respectful and realistic rendition.

I think the idea that it is cultural appropriation when whites take on Black cultural traits is ahistoric — human groups sharing space have always shared culture — and also pointless, given that Black American culture has always, and will continue to, infuse mainstream America. I also do not think arguments about power relations somehow invalidate my position. I think that it is in vain to decree that culture cannot be borrowed by people in power from those who are not.

I think the idea that only Black people should depict Black people in art and fiction is less antiracist than anti-human, in forbidding the empathy and even admiration that can motivate respectful attempts to create a literary character.

I revile any concept of equity that allows for appointing Black people to positions over more highly qualified non-Black ones.

I know that racism exists both on the personal and structural levels. But I also feel deep disappointment that the tenor of our times seems to encourage some Black people to exaggerate racism’s effects, to enshrine a kind of charismatic defeatism as a substitute for activism. And then there are those who outright fabricate having suffered racist mistreatment. I also worry that these kinds of things desensitize many observers from acknowledging the real racism that exists.

I think reparations are important — and happened already, decades ago with the Great Society, affirmative action, the expansion of welfare benefits in the late 1960s and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which encouraged banks to extend credit in low-income neighborhoods. I would not stand implacably opposed to new reparations today in the form of various kinds or even cash payments but am highly skeptical that a critical mass of Black commentators would accept them as true compensation. I can’t help thinking the race debate would stay where it is now.

condemn notions that there are white ways of thinking (such as being precise and stressing individualism) and Black ones (such as being intuitive and stressing the communal), such that Black people resisting “assimilation” is taken as a kind of higher wisdom. That vision of Blackness would birth no useful inventions, yield only the occasional out-of-the-box insight and is alarmingly close to tacky, Dionysian depictions of Blackness, such as those in Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro.”

I consider it anti-intellectual performance art to retool educational institutions as antiracist academies that “center” the discussion of discrimination and other abuses of power in the instruction of all subjects.

Now that I’ve laid out a primer on my opinions, people who write me seeking support should keep in mind that quite a few Black people consider my stances on race to be a revolting kind of heresy.

Rather, as I have learned in my now lengthy experience with this kind of criticism, it’s that those who disagree with me feel — or perhaps have been taught to feel — that opinions like mine amount to giving white people a pass on racism, that they distract whites from engaging in the kind of thinking and activity that will help Black America. As such, they do not think of people like me as having opinions different from theirs but legitimate. They think opinions like mine are dangerous. I can imagine that to my critics, white people writing me for counsel is exactly what Black America doesn’t need. I am basing this on 25 years of receiving this kind of critique from various directions.

To witness a demonstration of the vigor and tone of this sentiment, please see the negative reactions that are sure to be part of the social media response to this newsletter — from people of all races. No Zoom talk could even begin to cut through such heated resistance.

Be under no illusion, then, that telling your colleagues my opinion about a race issue will be received by them as emanating from some kind of guru. You may suppose that it will be effective to say, “See? There are Black people who feel the way I do.” But to some of your opponents, those Black people may be seen as not just a different kind, but a wrong kind.

If people who don’t see race things my way continue to call you names and get in your way, you have my full sympathy. (And an overprivileged college professor like me isn’t the only one who would come to your defense. “Unwoke” views on race are quite common among Black people of all levels of education.)

But I consider myself engaged in a gradual process of — I hope — shaping our general consciousness on race via constant argument over decades of time. This is a long-game business. Views change slowly, incrementally, and writing is part of making it happen.

If you choose to present my take on race issues amid tense occasions anyway, you should understand that the issue is less my opinion than what you intend to do amid the response to it. My dear correspondents: Please know that it will require a degree of intestinal fortitude to withstand your opponents’ calling you a racist for agreeing with me. Know also, though, that if you’re up for that, you are joining me in that work I am committed to.

Source: Trying to Prove You’re Not a Racist

McWhorter: Proving Racists Wrong Is Not a Trivial Pursuit

McWhorter always worth reading:

To be a “heterodox” Black thinker on race is to be often accused of claiming that racism is extinct or doesn’t matter. For example, when he reviewed my book “Woke Racism” for The Washington Post, The Nation’s Elie Mystal described it as “a pleasing bedtime story to a certain kind of white person who is always looking for a magic Black person to tell them what they want to hear.”

But I’ve never said racism is defunct. I don’t think so now, and I didn’t think so back when I was a graduate student in the late ’80s and early ’90s. One semester, I decided to try my hand at a campus College Bowl-style competition. It was a quiz contest, questioning people on facts, lore — trivia.

Potential teammates gathered in a room, mostly unknown to one another until that day. We all crowded in, and I couldn’t help noticing that within about 60 seconds, the natural mixing process led to all the guys (there weren’t any women in that particular cluster) huddling over to one side to start forming teams — and excluding me and only me.

Yes, they were all white, and I was the only Black guy there.

But I’m not especially inept socially. It was pretty clear to me that the reason I was so baldly excluded was that they had quietly assumed that a Black guy wouldn’t know enough obscure information. That a Black guy wouldn’t be a nerd.

So I went, all hurt, to the campus diversity coordinator? I left, feeling “unwelcome”? I’m afraid not.

The reason I showed up at that event is because I knew I had something to offer when it came to knowing useless facts, thank you very much. And I figured that if those guys concluded otherwise because I’m Black, then as a bonus I could make a small contribution to our civic fabric, laying down one brick in a big wall of a case by showing them that in fact, you can both be Black and know some obscure things for no particular reason. Plenty of Black people do, after all.

Almost as if scripted, the question I was first given when called upon was about old-time musical theater. As readers of this newsletter know, that’s one of my favorite subjects, and I gave the correct answer. Those white guys saw something different from what they would have expected, and you could almost see it from their reaction. Mission accomplished; life went on.

My point isn’t that this trivial episode was somehow on a par with integrating a lunch counter in the segregated South, believe me. But it’s what comes to mind, from my own experience, when I worry that our era teaches us that racism is more interesting than achievement, that calling people out is more useful than proving them wrong. Last week, I explored the idea that the supposedly progressive approach to a standardized test with a disparate pass rate is to eliminate it. Related are ideas such as that antiracism means not requiring classics majors to learn Latin or Greek, or that the very idea of remedial education or the term “remediation” might be racist.

I will never embrace that perspective. Underestimation must be countered with demonstration, not indignation. If people stereotype me, what I want to do is show them just how wrong they are, not protest that they engaged in stereotyping. An analogy: No one would be swayed by someone who, accused of, for example, infidelity, sobs “You’re mean!” and has no further answer.

Now, there are times when history has made it challenging for us to show what we are made of, unlike when I happened to know the answer to that little quiz question. But the ordinary, vital, self-loving response to such a problem is to step up and learn how to show ourselves at our best. Yep, it’s a kind of Black Tax — having to demonstrate your worth before people consider you their equal. But in response to a slight or a remark, just saying “You shouldn’t have said that” instead? It just leaves us looking weak.

Freeman Hrabowski is a Black mathematician who helped found, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. The program has been fostering and guiding students of color through the challenges of STEM fields and preparing them for academic research since the late 1980s. Many Black and Latino students face obstacles to high achievement in STEM subjects — and the Meyerhoff program is geared toward solving that problem. Students are closely mentored, live in the same dormitory during their first year, are shunted to summer internships and are strongly encouraged to work in groups. There are over a thousand alumni of the program, most of whom are Black or Latino. According to the Meyerhoff website, program alumni hold 385 Ph.D.s, including 71 joint M.D./Ph.D.s, and 155 M.D.s or D.O.s. I recommend reading “Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males” and “Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women,” both by Hrabowski and several co-authors.

Hrabowski is, to adopt a fashionable expression, doing the work. Others, however, strike me as more interested in the obstacles than in getting past them. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an accomplished Black physicist at the University of New Hampshire who has argued that the exclusion of Black women in her field is linked to her notion of “white empiricism.” Namely, “white empiricism is the phenomenon through which only white people (particularly white men) are read has having a fundamental capacity for objectivity and Black people (particularly Black women) are produced as an ontological other.” Prescod-Weinstein wants us to consider that “white epistemic claims about science — which are not rooted in empirical evidence — receive more credence and attention than Black women’s epistemic claims about their own lives.”

Her argument is rather involved, and sincere from what I can see. However, at the end of the day, I doubt we gain more from its approach than Hrabowski’s.

There’s room for questioning standards, of course. Not every undergraduate needs to master ancient Greek. It was good that years ago, the College Board was prompted to remove SAT questions with verbal analogies that assumed middle-class life as the default.

But the general theme should be that Black people can meet standards that other groups are meeting. The question shouldn’t be whether the standards themselves are appropriate. There will be skepticism, from some quarters, about our capabilities. But I see no Black pride in finding that skepticism — and the prejudice it entails — more interesting than countering it with actual achievement. What we are is what we have done, not what we have said.

Shelby Steele, whose classic, “The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America,” won a 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award, captured the essence of the matter in a 1989 essay. The increased opportunity of the post-civil rights era presented “a brutal proposition” to Black Americans: “If you’re not inferior, prove it.”

Black pride means, at the end of the day, proving it.

Source: Proving Racists Wrong Is Not a Trivial Pursuit

Ottawa improving vetting process to keep Heritage grants away from groups promoting hate: Hussen

Failure at the bureaucratic or political level, or both? Will the results of this review and the new vetting procedure be made public?

Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen says the Department of Canadian Heritage will be improving its vetting process to make sure it doesn’t give money to organizations that espouse hatred — and those that do could be banned from future funding.

In an interview with CBC’s The House airing Saturday, Hussen said the federal government giving $133,000 to the Community Media Advocacy Centre to develop and run an anti-racism strategy for broadcasters indicated a failure of the vetting process.

In posts on social media, CMAC’s senior consultant Laith Marouf talked about “Jewish white supremacists,” referred to some Indigenous and Black individuals using the term “house slave” and spoke about francophones in Quebec using the slur “frogs.”

“The fact that this slipped through the cracks is a slap in the face to the Jewish community and the francophone community, and many other communities, and for that I sincerely apologize,” Hussen told host Catherine Cullen.

The Liberal government has cut funding to an outside group it hired to deliver anti-racism training after it was discovered that one of the group’s leaders made antisemitic remarks in social media posts.

“This incident reflects a failure in the vetting system that not only missed Marouf’s despicable language online but failed to reveal this information later on to correct the error.”

Hussen said department vetting processes will be strengthened and any organization found to have spread hateful views could be barred from receiving future funding.

Organizations would “not only have their [existing] funding cut, but they will be ineligible to receive any future federal dollars — they will be ineligible to apply to any programs from the Department of Canadian Heritage,” Hussen said.

He said no new federal money will be granted by Canadian Heritage until the new processes are in place.

Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen talks about how the federal government ended up granting money to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and what he is doing to make sure similar mistakes can be avoided in the future.

Liberal MP criticizes initial response

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather flagged the comments to Hussen’s office in July and has said he was “disappointed” in the department’s response prior to the announcement that funding would be cut. Hussen said Saturday he quickly tasked his office with investigating and coming up with solutions, but now wishes the process had moved more quickly.

Prominent Jewish figures in the Liberal Party have been outspoken about the need for action on the funding. Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt, now president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said on Twitter he was “utterly disheartened” by the Marouf affair.

“Taking a stand against antisemitism should be a given and yet so few of my former Liberal colleagues have done so. This truly hurts. Jewish MPs shouldn’t be left to call this out alone,” he wrote.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said earlier this month the tweets showed a need for revamped oversight policies at Canadian Heritage.

The Canadian Press reported last month that a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Source: Ottawa improving vetting process to keep Heritage grants away from groups promoting hate: Hussen

McWhorter: Lower Black and Latino Pass Rates Don’t Make a Test Racist

Needed nuance and greater sophistication in analysis:

The Association of Social Work Boards administers tests typically required for the licensure of social workers. Apparently, this amounts to a kind of racism that must be reckoned with.

There is a Change.org petition circulating saying just that, based on the claim that the association’s clinical exam is biased because from 2018 to 2021 84 percent of white test-takers passed it the first time while only 45 percent of Black test-takers and 65 percent of Latino test-takers did. “These numbers are grossly disproportionate and demonstrate a failure in the exam’s design,” the petition states, adding that an “assertion that the problem lies with test-takers only reinforces the racism inherent to the test.” The petitioners add that the exam is administered only in English and its questions are based on survey responses from a disproportionately white pool of social workers.

But the petition doesn’t sufficiently explain why that makes the test racist. We’re just supposed to accept that it is. The petitioners want states to eliminate requirements that social workers pass the association’s tests, leaving competence for licensure to be demonstrated through degree completion and a period of supervised work.

So: It’s wrong to use a test to evaluate someone’s qualifications to be a social worker? This begins to sound plausible only if you buy into the fashionable ideology of our moment, in which we’re encouraged to think it’s somehow antiracist to excuse Black and brown people from being measured by standardized testing. There have been comparable claims these days with regard to tests for math teachers in Ontario and state bar exams, and, in the past, on behalf of applicants to the New York City Fire Department.

One of the weirdest assertions in the petition is that the social work association “is suggesting that Black, Latine/Hispanic and Indigenous social workers, by virtue of their race, are less capable of passing standardized tests.” (The first-time pass rate for Indigenous test-takers was 63 percent; for those of Asian descent it was 72 percent.) But based on the numbers, it would appear some are, absent details of just how the test is racist.

If there were clear evidence of this, presumably the petitioners would have outlined it in order to make their case. But the petition doesn’t prove the exam’s design is fatally flawed and doesn’t show which test components are out of bounds. We must address this problem more constructively.

This will mean taking a deep breath and asking why it is that in various instances, Black and Latino test-takers disproportionately have trouble with standardized tests. The reason for the deep breath is the implication ever in the air on this subject: that if the test isn’t racist, then the results might suggest that they aren’t as smart as their white peers. That’s an artificially narrowed realm of choices, however. There is more to what shapes how people handle things like standardized tests.

Broadly speaking, standardized testing has been criticized in a variety of ways. A 2021 article in NEA Today, a publication of the National Education Association, claims, “Since their inception a century ago, standardized tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system,” an observation channeling an opinion common in education circles that standardized tests measure test-taking ability rather than proficiency. But these claims miss a dynamic that sheds light on this issue.

One source I’ve always valued is a book published in 1983, “Ways With Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms,” by the linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath, who compared how language was used with children in a middle-class white community, a working-class white one and a working-class Black one. She found that in conversation, questions were wielded differently depending on the community. A key difference was that in middle-class white ones, children were often asked disembodied, information-seeking questions as a kind of exercise amid general social interaction. Heath wrote:

“Mothers continue their question-answer routines when the children begin to talk and add to them running narratives on items and events in the environment. Children are trained to act as conversation partners and information-givers.”

In the middle-class subculture Heath describes, children unconsciously incorporate into their mental tool kit a comfort with retaining and discussing facts for their own sake, as opposed to processing facts mainly as they relate to the practicalities of daily existence. The same kind of skill development that’s fostered by reading for pleasure or personal interest — as opposed to reading for school lessons — a ritual which preserves and displays information beyond the everyday.

Heath found that while the printed page is hardly alien to the working-class Black community (which she gives the pseudonym “Trackton”; her pseudonymous white working-class community is “Roadville” and her pseudonymous white middle-class community is “Maintown”), and questions themselves are certainly part of how language is used within it, particular kinds of questions about matters unconnected to daily living were relatively rare. A paperpublished in 1995 by the National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia cited Heath and notes that “the Trackton world is warm, buzzing with emotion and adult communication, an environment to which the child gradually adapts by a process of imitation and repetition.” However, it adds, “the language socialization of the Trackton child is,” in contrast to Maintown, “almost book-free.” One Trackton grandmother described part of the dynamic to Heath in this way: “We don’t talk to our chil’rn like you folks do. We don’t ask ’em ’bout colors, names ’n things.”

Yes, Heath’s book was written some time ago. Certainly, Black kids don’t grow up not knowing their colors or that things have names. But that quote does get at something in a general sense. Importantly, Heath’s study was objective and respectful. She isn’t a culture-wars partisan. Her point wasn’t that Black culture, or working-class culture, is unenlightened or that Black people or working-class white people are in any sense inarticulate. Neither she then, nor I now, say there is some flaw in Black or working-class white culture.

The issue is, rather, how we square what worked for the past with what will work for today. No culture can be faulted for lagging a bit on that. Working-class Black culture was born amid hard-working people in segregated America for whom higher education was, in many, if not most cases, a distant prospect, and language was used to operate in the here and now. Think of August Wilson’s plays.

That makes perfect sense in a working-class setting and is the way most people in the world proceed linguistically. Heath noted, though, about both the white and Black working-class communities she studied that “neither community’s ways with the written word prepares it for the school’s ways.” In that context, it’s easier to understand stubbing a proverbial toe on standardized tests at first.

I experienced this as a 1970s middle-class Black kid, coming of age just a decade or so after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., growing up in neighborhoods with lots of “post-civil rights” Black kids of various backgrounds. Middle- and upper-middle class Black families, while taking advantage of widened opportunities, could still dialogue in the way Trackton families did, and many still do. This is hardly limited to Black people. However, to the extent that we still have a wealth gap and an education gap, and that the poverty rate is disproportionately high for Black, Latino and Indigenous people, we might expect these groups, in the aggregate, to be affected by this aspect of language and its legacies.

Let’s recognize, then, that calling something like a credentialing exam racist is crude — it flies past issues more nuanced and complex. Heath’s study doesn’t have all the answers, and there are many working-class homes in which children are prepared with the conversational and analytical skills required to excel on standardized tests. But we might absorb the reality that circumstances will leave some people better poised to take tests than others, and that will mean pass rates on such tests will differ according to race at least for a while.

And let’s recognize that the pass rate on the social work association’s clinical exam goes up after successive attempts: According to the association, the eventual pass rate is 57 percent for Black test-takers, 77 percent for Latinos and 74 percent for Native Americans. Also, among social workers, Black people are overrepresented — over 20 percent as of 2017 — in relation to our proportion of the population, which hardly suggests an obstacle to Black participation in the profession.

Might there be a reason to adjust the exams? Perhaps, if, as the petition states, among the social workers surveyed in order to compose the questions, 80 percent are white people, even though Black and Latino people combined constitute 36 percent of new social workers. If nothing else, to eliminate the appearance of bias, the association ought to survey a representative group to generate test questions.

But insisting simply that it is racist, and therefore, constructively, immoral, to subject Black and Latino social workers to standardized test questions is itself a kind of immorality. It’s a squeak away from arguing that Black and Latino people just aren’t very quick on the uptake or can’t think outside of the box. What kind of antiracism is that?

Source: Lower Black and Latino Pass Rates Don’t Make a Test Racist

Chambers: Accusations of systemic racism on campus aren’t proof it exists

Anecdotes do not equal evidence although they can point the way to more detailed study. Wider surveys and studies are more helpful in understanding the extent and forms of discrimination and bias.
Public service employment equity reports and surveys, now with disaggregated data, are good examples (although in my experience, are unlikely to convince many activists):
Accusations of systemic racism have become increasingly commonplace on university campuses, led primarily by anti-racist activists. With the return to classes in September we can expect more of this.
The activists consider racism not only to be a serious campus problem, but insist that university administrators publicly support this position. For example, at the University of Ottawa, activists have pressured administrators to address the issue on two notable occasions.

Source: Chambers: Accusations of systemic racism on campus aren’t proof it exists

Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Should never have happened.

Officials need to do a better job in G&C applications vetting, including social media of the organization and key staff to reduce future risks:

The Liberal government has cut funding for an anti-racism group and suspended work on a project it was running after a member of the group made antisemitic remarks in a social media post.

“Antisemitism has no place in this country. The antisemitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement posted on Twitter Monday.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Marouf, a senior consultant on an anti-racism project that received $133,000 from the federal government, posted the controversial remarks on his Twitter account. The account is private but a screenshot of the post showed a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of [their] Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Last year, the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) received a $133,800 Department of Canadian Heritage grant to build an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting.

The Liberal government has cut funding to an outside group it hired to deliver anti-racism training after it was discovered that one of the group’s leaders made antisemitic remarks in social media posts.

Marouf is listed as a senior consultant on CMAC’s website and is quoted saying that CMAC is “excited to launch” the “Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence Initiative” with funding support from Heritage’s anti-racism action program.

He expressed gratitude to “Canadian Heritage for their partnership and trust imposed on us,” saying that CMAC commits to “ensuring the successful and responsible execution of the project.”

Marouf is not antisemitic, says lawyer

In Hussen’s statement, he called on CMAC to explain how it came to hire Marouf and how it plans to rectify the damage caused by his “antisemitic and xenophobic statements.”

“We look forward to a proper response on their next steps and clear accountability regarding this matter,” he said.

The Canadian Press reported last week that a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Source: Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Lilley of the Toronto Sun:

At noon Monday, Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen tweeted out that he was cutting the funding from the Community Media Advocacy Centre.

The Montreal based group received a $133,822 grant last September for a program called Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting. It had already held workshops in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax with events still scheduled for Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

A major problem, though, were the comments from the man leading these sessions, Laith Marouf. He has called “Jewish White Supremacists” “bags of human feces,” said that French is an ugly language, and that “Frogs have much less IQ.” He once called Colin Powell the “Jamaican house slave of the Empire.”

Marouf’s lawyer said that Marouf does not have “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group” and said his tweets made a clear distinction between “Jewish White Supremacists” and Jews in general.  But that explanation is difficult to accept.

That’s not the kind of person who should be lecturing another human being on racism.

“The anti-Semitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Hussen said in a statement.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Hussen called on CMAC to explain how they came to hire Marouf, given that the group is supposed to be about fighting racism and hate while Marouf’s comments were “anti-Semitic and xenophobic.” The minister should be pushing CMAC to answer those questions, but he has to answer many himself.

How did this group and Marouf get funding in the first place?

How could Hussen end up being quoted in an April press release with Marouf when a simple search would have turned up many of his vile comments?

Will anyone be held accountable for this?

We used to have ministerial accountability in our government; ministers would resign when their departments messed up. There’s no doubt that the government did mess up, not just Hussen’s department, but also Canadian Heritage which approved the grant.

Speaking to government insiders to get a sense of how this came to be shows a series of missteps across four different ministers, two departments and many months. The grant was approved last September as Canada was in the middle of a federal election.

The grant had been making its way through the system at Heritage Canada which was then overseen by then-minister Steven Guilbeault. While the grant was funded by Heritage, it was handed out by the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth which at that time was Bardish Chagger.

By the time the government got around to actually handing out the money and making and making an announcement, Pablo Rodriguez was the minister at Heritage and Hussen had taken over the diversity file. It appears that the vetting process wasn’t fully followed because the people in charge assumed others had or would do the vetting required.

On the one hand, I am tempted to cut the government some slack because their contract was with CMAC, not Larouf, but he’s been with them for years. This was not a new hire; he’s featured on their website and was likely central to their application.

According to government sources, had the contract been directly with Marouf, he could have been fired immediately. Since the contract was with CMAC, the government had legal advice they had to follow before the contract could be terminated.

There is now an internal review to see how this happened, and the government is looking at their options, including whether any funding can be recovered from the group.

They should be reviewing the entire anti-racism training industry they are supporting. As I’ve written previously, it appears to a sham.

It took the Trudeau government longer than it should have to fix their mistake, but at least they are fixing it.

Source: LILLEY: Firing anti-racism group took too long given trainer’s racist comments

Feds probe ‘disturbing’ tweets by consultant on government-funded anti-racism project

One of the things I learned when working under the Conservative government was to ensure we checked social media posts of those in leadership positions in groups applying for G&C funding. We learned this the hard way when political staffers would flag particularly egregious or overly ideological postings, thus removing the proposal from being considered.

And of course, this needs to be applied broadly and consistently across organizations and funding requests:

The federal diversity minister says he’s taking action over “disturbing” tweets by a senior consultant on an anti-racism project that received $133,000 from his department.

Ahmed Hussen has asked Canadian Heritage to “look closely at the situation” after what he called “unacceptable behaviour” by Laith Marouf, a senior consultant involved in the government-funded project to combat racism in broadcasting.

Marouf’s Twitter account is private but a screenshot posted online shows a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of thier (sic) Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Marouf declined requests for comment, but when asked about the tweet, a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists,’” and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Last year, the Community Media Advocacy Centre received a $133,800 Heritage Department grant to build an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting.

Marouf is listed as a senior consultant on CMAC’s website and is quoted saying that CMAC is “excited to launch” the “Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence Initiative” with funding support from Heritage’s anti-racism action program.

He expressed gratitude to “Canadian Heritage for their partnership and trust imposed on us,” saying that CMAC commits to “ensuring the successful and responsible execution of the project.”

Hussen, who is based in the Heritage Department, said in a statement: “We condemn this unacceptable behaviour by an individual working in an organization dedicated to fighting racism and discrimination.”

“Our position is clear — antisemitism and any form of hate have no place in Canada. That is why I have asked Canadian Heritage to look closely at the situation involving disturbing comments made by the individual in question. We will address this with the organization accordingly, as this clearly goes against our government’s values,” Hussen added.

CMAC did not respond to a request for comment.

Irwin Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister who was appointed as Canada’s special envoy on antisemitism by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Marouf’s tweet referring to “loud mouthed bags of human feces” was “beyond the pale.”

Cotler said he plans to speak to officials working in the Heritage department on combating racism about the issue.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said Canadians “should be appalled” by his tweets.

“Canadian Heritage must review its oversight policies to ensure Canadian taxpayer dollars are provided to groups committed to cherished Canadian values and to combating racism, hate, and discrimination,” he said.

Source: Feds probe ‘disturbing’ tweets by consultant on government-funded anti-racism project

Pain in Children is Often Ignored. For Children of Color, It’s Even Worse.

Of note, likely similar in Canada:

Judith McClellan, a social worker who lives in Salisbury, N.C., knows what it’s like to see her child in pain. Her daughter Kyarra, 15, has sickle cell disease, an inherited red blood cell disorder that most commonly affects Black people and frequently causes pain so excruciating that emergency opioids are necessary. When she was younger, Ms. McClellan said, Kyarra would describe the pain — caused by blockages in blood vessels — as feeling “like a butcher’s knife stabbing me 1,000 times in the same spot.”

During times of distress, Ms. McClellan said, “the protocol is we go to the nearest hospital” to receive powerful pain medications that will mitigate Kyarra’s discomfort until the crisis has passed. But because the McClellans, who are Black, live an hour and a half away from Kyarra’s primary hematologist, they often find themselves at emergency departments with medical staff who don’t know them and who often doubt Kyarra’s pain.

“If she says she has a pain level of eight — because she’s not screaming and hollering — they question, ‘Are you sure it’s an eight? Or are you making it an eight to get more pain medication?,’” Ms. McClellan said. “Sometimes I think they think she’s seeking drugs.”

Dr. Andrew Campbell, director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., said that health care providers who don’t understand a condition like sickle cell disease, where pain is the hallmark feature, often mislabel Black children, particularly teenagers, as “drug seekers” or “opioid abusers.” There is also a “potential layer of racism” that can lead to that characterization, he added.

Last year, at a UNC hospital emergency department in Chapel Hill, N.C., a doctor reported Ms. McClellan to Child Protective Services because he was concerned about the fact that Kyarra had received 30 opioid prescriptions from 9 different doctors in North Carolina in the past year. That was too many, in his opinion. Ms. McClellan said that when she explained to the doctor that Kyarra’s prescriptions were necessary and in accordance with prescribing guidelines, he said, “If you’re not hiding anything, this will all work out.”

When asked about the incident, Alan Wolf, a spokesman for UNC Health, said that “hospital providers are obligated under North Carolina law to report suspected child neglect or abuse.”

In the end, the agency decided not to pursue the report, Ms. McClellan said, because “it didn’t meet the qualifications for abuse and neglect.”

Dr. Emily Hartford, an assistant professor in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Washington who studies how differences in care can affect children, said that Kyarra’s experience is part of “a theme we’re starting to see over and over in the literature.”

In June, for instance, Dr. Hartford and her colleagues published a study in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine that analyzed the medical records of 833 12- to 16-year-olds who visited the Seattle Children’s hospital emergency department for migraine treatment between 2016 and 2020. They found that the children who were Black, Asian, Hispanic or who preferred to speak in a language other than English were less likely than white children to receive strong intravenous pain-relieving medications, despite reporting similar pain levels.

This jibes with past research, Dr. Hartford said, which has found that when children of color visit emergency departments for issues like bone fractures or appendicitis, for example, they are less likely than white children to be given appropriate pain medications, like opioids. Many studies have also found similar variations in pain treatment among adults of color.

“We would like there to be no differences by ethnicity and languages,” Dr. Hartford added. But “we have to uncover them as the first step to addressing them.”

Pain is subjective, hard to measure and often invisible. And in children — even more so than in adults — it is frequently misunderstoodundertreated and dismissed, as research has shown.

But in children of color, treatment can be worse. Dr. Ron Wyatt, a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement who is based in Madison, Ala., noted that false beliefs about biological differences between Black people and white people — dating back to slavery — have had lasting effects on how people of color are treated in medical settings.

As part of an often-cited study published in 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for instance, researchers from the University of Virginia surveyed 222 white medical residents and students and found that more than a third of them believed that Black people had physically thicker skin than white people did. And about 7 percent believed that Black people’s nerve endings were less sensitive than white people’s. The participants with such erroneous beliefs also made less accurate pain treatment recommendations, the study authors found.

Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and director of its Center for Health Equity, has found in her own research that the more implicit (or unconscious) biaswhite physicians have, the more poorly they communicate with Black patients.

One of her studies found that white doctors dominated conversations more with Black patients than they did with white patients, making it far more likely that Black patients’ concerns would go unheard and their conditions and pain would go undertreated. “It’s definitely a safety issue,” Dr. Cooper said.

Dr. Cristina Gonzalez, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who teaches physicians how to recognize and manage their implicit biases, said she remembered one instance years ago when a young Hispanic patient came into the hospital complaining of severe pain. A staff member said, “I don’t think he is really in pain.” He was eventually diagnosed with a gallbladder infection, ‌Dr. Gonzalez said, but those doubts could have delayed his treatment and caused damage‌ that could have been life-threatening.

“Delaying care has significant health downstream effects,” she said.

Experts emphasized that the onus should not be on patients to improve their own care. In recent years, there has been a push by researchershospitals and lawmakers to help health care providers become more aware of their biases — which everyone has — and to change their behavior accordingly. But “those are things that take time,” Dr. Wyatt said. In the meantime, these strategies may help parents at the hospital:

Keep records. Write down your child’s medications, symptoms and pediatrician’s contact information. Then, give the staff this information, which will help them assess what type of care your child needs faster. This is particularly helpful if your child has a chronic condition and is taking medication regularly.

Get to know the hospital staff. Vanessa Finch, of Fort Lauderdale, Fl., whose son Kahleeb Beckett died at age 24 during a sickle cell crisis at the hospital, said that when Kahleeb was young, she found ways to connect with the hospital workers. “I volunteered. I kicked it with the social workers. I stayed in those doctors’ faces,” she said. “That makes a difference.” She discovered that when the medical staff felt a more personal connection to her son, who was Black, they were more empathetic to his pain.

Try to alleviate your child’s anxiety. Studies show that anxiety and pain are intricately interwoven and some surprisingly simple tactics can help to reduce anxiety and lessen perceptions of pain. These may include having your child imagine a favorite place, listening to a guided imagery exercise or offering distractions, like music or a video. You can use these strategies while waiting for treatment.

Take deep breaths. “We know that parents’ distress about their child’s pain in the E.D. really impacts how their child experiences pain and how they respond to treatment,” said Emily Law, an author of the recent study on migraine treatment in adolescents and an associate professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington. So do what you can to stay calm, whether that involves taking deep breaths or stepping out of the exam room to call a friend for support.

If necessary, file a complaint. If you feel that your child hasn’t been treated appropriately, ask to speak with a hospital social worker or write a complaint to the hospital to hold them accountable.

Source: Pain in Children is Often Ignored. For Children of Color, It’s Even Worse.

Trudel: Les mots et leur contexte

Indeed. Context and intent are essential:

Cet été, le CRTC a fait fi de la loi qu’il a pourtant mandat d’appliquer et condamné l’usage d’un mot faisant partie du titre d’un livre sans même prendre la peine de considérer le contexte. Dans le même esprit, le festival Osheaga s’est senti tenu de s’excuser parce qu’un rappeur invité portait un chandail dénonçant le fascisme, mais… qui arborait une croix gammée… Ce refus de considérer le contexte des mots ou des images est l’un des principaux verrous à la mise en place de mesures pour lutter contre les propos préjudiciables en ligne ou ailleurs.

Tenir compte du contexte est une condition de la possibilité de débattre et de discuter. Les mots peuvent blesser, humilier ou exclure. Mais le refus de considérer le contexte d’énonciation d’un mot ou de la diffusion d’une image constitue une grave menace à la liberté d’expression. Il est impossible d’appliquer quelque règle limitant des activités expressives si on postule que le contexte d’énonciation d’un mot ou de diffusion d’une image est sans pertinence.

Les normes d’usage du langage reflètent les évolutions qui se manifestent sur le plan des sensibilités. Celles-ci reflètent les changements dans la reconnaissance de certaines réalités. Par exemple, en 2022, une personne raisonnable n’utilisera pas à tort et à travers des mots portant une charge douloureuse pour des personnes appartenant à des minorités raciales. Alors qu’au début du XXe siècle, certains mots aujourd’hui jugés péjoratifs étaient consignés même dans les documents officiels, il est admis de nos jours qu’une personne raisonnable doit les utiliser avec un minimum de précautions.

Il est légitime de critiquer quelqu’un qui fait le choix de s’exprimer comme on le faisait il y a plusieurs décennies en faisant fi des significations douloureuses de certains mots ou certaines images. Chacun a la faculté de faire des reproches à une personne qui s’exprime de façon maladroite.

Par contre, les autorités publiques ne peuvent punir que les propos contrevenant à une règle de droit, c’est-à-dire une règle connue édictée par les élus. La possibilité pratique d’appliquer les lois requiert de regarder le contexte des mots et des images. Lorsque la liberté d’expression a valeur constitutionnelle, il est essentiel de convenir des raisonnements par lesquels on détermine si un propos a dépassé les limites permises par les lois. Cela est impossible si on ne prend pas la peine de considérer le contexte d’énonciation d’un propos.

De fait, toutes les lois qui punissent ou interdisent des propos prescrivent de regarder le contexte d’énonciation. Au regard de la loi, il n’y a pas de mots ou d’images qui seraient interdits en toutes circonstances. Mais selon le contexte, l’usage d’un mot peut se révéler fautif au regard de la loi. Par exemple, la loi fait une différence entre le fait d’apostropher une personne en lui lançant le mot en n précédé du mot « sale » et le fait de citer le titre d’un livre comportant le mot.

C’est pourquoi l’appel à des sanctions pour avoir prononcé un mot ou exhibé un signe sans égard au contexte est un indice affligeant de la détérioration des conditions qui permettent d’appliquer les limites aux libertés expressives. C’est une entrave à la possibilité de débattre.

Cibler les propos malveillants

En quoi le fait d’accabler ceux qui s’expriment en dehors de tout dessein malveillant permet de faire avancer la lutte contre le harcèlement, l’exclusion et les discriminations ? Il est plutôt à craindre que cela contribue à légitimer les positions de ceux qui s’opposent à la mise en place de mesures proportionnées destinées à lutter contre les propos vraiment abusifs.

Ici et dans d’autres pays, les autorités publiques s’apprêtent à mettre de l’avant des mesures législatives afin de lutter contre le harcèlement et l’intimidation raciste, homophobe ou sexiste, notamment dans les environnements en ligne, où c’est un fléau. Certains sont prompts à crier à la censure aussitôt que de telles mesures sont mises de l’avant. On brandit en exemple les sanctions imposées ou réclamées à l’encontre de ceux qui font un usage parfaitement légitime de certains mots.

Dans une société qui reconnaît la liberté d’expression, il est essentiel de distinguer l’usage malveillant et les usages légitimes des mots et des images. Les lois limitant la liberté d’expression ne peuvent s’appliquer qu’en examinant le contexte d’énonciation des mots et de diffusion des images. Faire fi de cela conduit à censurer dès lors qu’une personne se met à affirmer que certains mots lui sont choquants. C’est incompatible avec la liberté d’expression.

Il est légitime de rappeler, comme on le fait chaque fois qu’éclate une controverse, que des mots sont associés à des souffrances et sont trop souvent utilisés dans un contexte malveillant. Mais pendant que l’on s’épuise à multiplier les condamnations pour des mots et des images pris hors contexte, les propos haineux — les vrais — continuent de sévir. Confondre les propos méprisants et ceux diffusés sans malveillance contribue à délégitimer la mise en place de mesures efficaces contre les propos vraiment préjudiciables. Ce sont les victimes de harcèlement raciste, sexiste ou homophobe qui paient le prix de ce refus de considérer le contexte des mots et des images.

Source: Les mots et leur contexte