Evolutionary Psychology Grapples with Racism and Anti-Semitism

Interesting:

When I published my book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004), I had no idea that white nationalism and neo-Nazism would become more fashionable in the coming years. At that time white nationalism was a fringe movement that one heard very little about, and the term “alt-right” had not even been coined yet.

Some of my critics informed me that the historical links I drew between Darwinism and racism or Darwinism and Nazism were misguided, because most Darwinian biologists today are firmly anti-racist and anti-Nazi. I never quite understood why the views of current Darwinian biologists were relevant to my argument, however, because I was not arguing that Darwinism inevitably produces Nazism. I was making a more modest and less assailable historical point: Nazis embraced Darwinism and used it as a foundational principle of their worldview. (I proved this in even greater detail in Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress.)

Recycling Racial Ideas

However, ironically, the recent upsurge of white nationalism and the alt-right has actually made my historical case more plausible. Not only do many of the leading figures in this movement, such as Richard Spencer, embrace Darwinism with alacrity, but they recycle many of the racial ideas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that I discuss in From Darwin to Hitler.

They argue that races are unequal, because they have evolved differently. Of course, conveniently they have discovered that their own ancestors — white Europeans — have evolved greater intellectual capacities than other races.

These racist ideas are still taboo in mainstream academe — as they should be. When the Nobel Prize-winning biologist James Watson suggested in 2007 that some racial groups, such as black Africans, had lower intelligence because of their evolutionary history, he faced outrage and sustained criticism.

Worrying Signs

However, some worrying signs are emerging that the taboo may be cracking. The journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, which has eminent evolutionary psychologists, such as Harvard’s Steven Pinker, on its editorial board, recently carried an article defending the anti-Semitic, racist views of Kevin MacDonald, a white supremacist and emeritus professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach.

MacDonald’s views are eerily similar to those of scientists I examine in my historical scholarship: racial groups are in a human struggle for existence, behavioral traits are biologically innate, and stereotypical Jewish traits are evolutionary strategies for beating other races in racial competition. MacDonald claims that anti-Semitism is a defensive strategy to help white Europeans and their descendants triumph over the Jews.

Darwin and many early Darwinists saw racism and human inequality as part and parcel of their theory. MacDonald is trying to resurrect this troubling legacy of Darwinian theory.

Source: Evolutionary Psychology Grapples with Racism and Anti-Semitism

Racial resentment is the biggest predictor of immigration attitudes, study finds

Not a surprising correlation:

White Americans’ negative attitudes toward immigrants are driven overwhelmingly by racial prejudices, not “economic anxiety,” according to a working paper by political scientist Steven V. Miller of Clemson University.

Immigration hard-liners, including President Trump, often frame their arguments with ostensibly race-neutral appeals to public safety or economic interest. As Trump said in July 2015, Mexicans are “taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” This has led many commentators to conclude that the attitudes driving Trump and his supporters on questions of immigration are primarily economic, rather than racial in nature.

Political scientists have subsequently tested this theory, at least as it applies to Trump support overall, and found it lackingover and over and over again. But Miller’s paper is extremely useful because it removes the question from the specific context of 2016 and places it in a more general policy realm.

To do this, he draws on nationally representative survey data from the American National Election Studies and the Voter Study Group, two well-established surveys of voter attitudes and behavior. To measure views on immigration, the surveys ask respondents whether levels of immigration should be increased, decreased or left the same.

The surveys measure racial attitudes using a well-established battery of questions on “racial resentment.” Political scientists generally define this as something like “a moral feeling that blacks violate such traditional American values as individualism and self-reliance.” It’s measured via agreement with statements like, “It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites” and “Irish, Italians, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors.”

The surveys also include a number of ways to measure what’s come to be known as “economic anxiety”: evaluations about the country’s economic health, as well as respondents’ employment status and job market conditions in their communities, counties and states of residence.

Miller also controlled for a number of common economic and demographic variables, such as income, education, age, political party and gender. Respondents’ race wasn’t included as a control because the study looked at the views of only white respondents.

Miller essentially ran a number of statistical tests to determine how white Americans’ economic and racial attitudes correlated with their immigration beliefs: Does being unemployed make white voters more or less likely to support decreasing immigration? What about belief in the strength of the economy? As respondents’ racial resentments increase, what does that do to their views on immigration?

All told, the analyses were “unequivocal that racial resentment is reliably the largest and most precise predictor of attitudes toward immigration,” Miller found. As the chart above shows, “racial resentment has the largest magnitude effect” on the odds that a white respondent will express a preference for less legal immigration. The effect of racial resentment has “nearly six times” the impact as a belief that the economy has gotten worse on respondents’ propensity to favor less immigration.

The racial resentment questions ask only about attitudes toward black Americans. They don’t mention Hispanic immigrants at all. And yet, Miller found, white Americans’ attitudes toward blacks were a powerful predictor of how they felt about immigration. “The familiar racial resentment toward African-Americans is part of a bigger syndrome in which ethnicity/race filters perspectives toward policy, more broadly,” he writes.

Miller cautions that the paper is still in its early stages and has not been peer-reviewed. But his findings do comport with much of the prior research on racial resentment and Trump support, and it makes sense that those attitudes would spill over into more general policy areas as well.

In the end, this should come as no surprise — the empirical case for restricting immigration is a poor one. Studies have consistently shown no link between immigrants and crime, for instance, and the net effect of immigration, legal or otherwise, on the economy tends to be positive, particularly in the long run.

Moreover, a country with a falling fertility rate needs immigration to offset population decline, fill job vacancies and contribute to government coffers.

In the end, Miller writes, “an ounce of racial resentment is worth a pound of economic anxiety.”

Source: Racial resentment is the biggest predictor of immigration attitudes, study finds

Millions denied citizenship due to ideas of national, ethnic or racial ‘purity’: UN rights expert

Good statement, even if the HRC is fundamentally dysfunctional:

E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on racism, focused on the issue of ethno-nationalism in her first report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, whose current session ends on Friday.

In it, she highlighted the plight of millions of stateless people worldwide—often members of minority groups—who are victims of long-standing discrimination which sees them as “foreign”, even though they have been resident in a country for generations or even centuries.

Meanwhile, several countries continue to enforce “patriarchal laws” which make it impossible for women to pass down citizenship status to their children or foreign-born spouse.

In some cases, women are even stripped of their nationality upon marrying a foreigner and cannot regain it if the marriage ends.

“This is gender-based discrimination often deployed by States to preserve notions of national, ethnic and racial ‘purity,’” she said.

Ms. Achiume believes prejudice rooted in ethno-nationalism is behind racial discrimination, whether in citizenship or immigration laws.

She recalled that in the past, European colonial powers used the ideology to exclude local populations within colonies from gaining citizenship, while Jews and Roma were targeted on the same grounds, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, she said, migrants are the target of political hate speech and intolerance, again often under the pretext of ethnic purity and religious, cultural or linguistic preservation.

“Countries that have long celebrated immigration as central to their national identity have taken steps to vilify and undermine immigration, with a disproportionate effect on certain racial, religious and national groups,” Ms. Achiume pointed out.

“Islamophobic or anti-Semitic ethno-nationalism undermines the rights of Muslims and Jews irrespective of citizenship status…the case of the Rohingya Muslims offers a chilling example.”

The Rohingya are a mostly Muslim minority in Myanmar, which is a predominantly Buddhist nation.

Though resident there for centuries, Ms. Achiume said many Rohingya have been rendered stateless following a 1982 nationality law that discriminates on the basis of ethnicity.

Waves of violence and discrimination have driven scores of Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh. More than 700,000 have arrived in the past year alone in the wake of a violent military crackdown that began in late August.

Source: Millions denied citizenship due to ideas of national, ethnic or racial ‘purity’: UN rights expert

Social Change is the Art of Persuasion

Good commentary and overall approach that should work with most people – start with probing and engaging rather than labeling:

I recently gave a commencement address at a college in rural Ohio. My driver from the airport was a kindly white man who had spent most of his career teaching high school chemistry in West Virginia and retired in Northeast Ohio because the culture felt similar but the economy was better.

Over the course of the hour-long drive he:

  • spoke about the opioid crisis that had afflicted his friends’ children;
  • expressed appreciation for the steady stream of cultural activities that the college (speakers, concerts) provided;
  • invited me to stay at his house when nobody answered the doorbell at the local inn (it was almost midnight by the time we arrived, I think the innkeeper was dozing);
  • decried the racism of some of the townsfolk;
  • leveled criticism at Sean Hannity for being a fear-monger;
  • leveled criticism at Donald Trump for being, well, Donald Trump;
  • used the word ‘Negroid’ in conversation with me;
  • praised Barack Obama;
  • asked (without overt mal-intent) if I thought Hispanics were poised to take over the country;
  • asked (also without overt mal-intent) if I believed Islam was compatible with America.

How should we characterize this man? Generous? Racist? Inquisitive? Neighborly? Of the past, not the future?

Should I have called out the racist things he said (there is more than one item on that list)? Should I have asked the senior administrators of the college to fire him for making me uncomfortable (he hadn’t, really, but I can certainly see how his conversation would have been hurtful to others)?

I believe the great writer Zadie Smith had precisely such a man in mind when she wrote in the New York Review of Books “… individual citizens are internally plural: they have within them the full range of behavioral possibilities. They are like complex musical scores from which certain melodies can be teased out and others ignored or suppressed, depending, at least in part, on who is doing the conducting.”

For one who believes in a multicultural vision of America, I believe the best way to understand and approach such a man is to engage in persuasion. Social change is the art of persuasion. And the central tool of persuasion is language.

My favorite line in all of hip hop is this one from Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) “Speech is my hammer bang the world into shape

Now let it fall … (Huhh)”

So what type of speech is most likely to persuade this man, to tease out the melodies in him that are in tune with the coming majority-minority America?

Shall I tell him of his white privilege? Shall I inform him that systems that once worked in his favor (systems which were invisible to him, but not to others) for so long are being questioned, challenged, and sometimes dismantled outright?

Or shall I take a different approach? Shall I talk to him of George Washington and Jane Addams and Dr. King and say that they were dreamers and builders of a nation where both he and I could thrive?

And as I quote Washington and Addams and King to this man, shouldn’t I realize that such people were proudly willing to speak with people with whom they disagreed. As Jane Addams wrote, “We know instinctively that if we grow contemptuous of our fellows and consciously limit our intercourse to certain kinds of people whom we have previously decided to respect, we not only tremendously circumscribe our range of life, but limit the scope of our ethics.”

Which language – the multiculturalism that speaks principally of white privilege and systems of oppression, or the multiculturalism that speaks optimistically of American inclusiveness and welcome – is a more useful tool to bang the world into shape?

Source: Social Change is the Art of Persuasion

USA: Suicide rates for black children twice that of white children, new data show

Significant study and yet another example of racial disparities:

African-American children are taking their lives at roughly twice the rate of their white counterparts, according to a new study that shows a widening gap between the two groups.

The 2001-2015 data, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, confirm a pattern first identified several years ago when researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio found that the rate of suicides for black children ages 5 to 12 exceeded that of young whites. The results were seen in both boys and girls.

Although suicide is rare among young children, the latest findings reinforce the need for better research into the racial disparities, lead author Jeffrey Bridge said Monday. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for older children and adolescents in the United States.

“We can’t assume any longer that suicide rates are uniformly higher in white individuals than black,” said Bridge, an epidemiologist who directs the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at the Columbus hospital. “There is this age-related disparity, and now we have to understand the underlying reasons. . . . Most of the previous research has largely concerned white suicide. So we don’t even know if the same risk and protective factors apply to black youth.”

Historically, suicide rates in the United States have been higher for whites than blacks across all age groups. That remains the case for adolescents, ages 13 to 17, according to the new study. White teens continue to have a 50 percent higher rate of suicide than black teens.

Overall between 1999 and 2015, more than 1,300 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers translate into an average of one child 12 or younger dying by suicide every five days. The pace has actually accelerated in recent years, CDC statistics indicate.

The researchers based their latest analysis on the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, which does not include geographical or socioeconomic data.

Although the study was unable to provide a cultural context for the racial difference in suicide rates, psychiatrist Samoon Ahmad thinks a number of reasons could account for the disparity.

“To me, the 5-12 range is more related to developmental issues and the possible lack of a family network, social network and cultural activities,” said Ahamad, a clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine who was not involved in the research. “And with the introduction of social media, there is more isolation with children, not as much neighborhood play. Kids are more socially in their own vacuum.”

Ahmad described this age group as “probably the most vulnerable.” Yet adults tend to think the children are somehow too young to experience such depths of despair, he noted.

“No one talks about that with them. We tend to put them in silos, and don’t discuss these things because we think it’s too traumatic,” he said. “Instead, there must be a slow and steady flow of communication.”

Previous studies have looked at some of the characteristics and circumstances surrounding children’s suicides.

In 2017, research by Bridge and colleagues found that among children, ages 5 to 11, and young adolescents, ages 12 to 14, those who took their own lives were more likely to be male, African American and dealing with stressful relationships at home or with friends. Children who had a mental health problem at the time of death were more likely than young adolescents to have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Young adolescents who killed themselves were more likely to have had relationship problems with a boyfriend or girlfriend. They also had higher rates of depression, according to last year’s study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics.

That 2017 report found more than a third of elementary school-aged suicides involved black children compared to just 11.6 percent of early adolescent suicides.

Bridge said his motivation for delving into this issue was a suicide in a town not far from Columbus. The child was not yet 10.

“We went into the original study because suicide rates were increasing among adolescents in the United States,” Bridge said. The local death “made us think if there was a change in the suicide rate of children, and that’s what made us look into it.”

Source: Suicide rates for black children twice that of white children, new data show

Articles on racism and discrimination that caught my eye

In terms of articles focussing on racism and discrimination, there was a mix of anecdote-based reports on the presence and impact of visible minorities (Immigration minister says he was target of racial profiling, calls on Liberals to fight racism, ‘We’re not immune’ on the Hill: Sen. Bernard launches Senate debate on anti-Black racism) and evidence (Indigenous, Black children over-represented in foster care and group homes, inquiry says, Experiences of violent victimization and discrimination reported by minority populations in Canada, 2014 – General Social Survey which I look forward to reviewing the data in more detail).

Commentary in favour of the anti-racism consults included Brittany Andrew-Amofah: Keep expectations high for antiracism consultations on the need to ensure meaningful results (some of which Budget 2018 addressed):

The plan to undertake these consultations deserves and requires scrutiny, but not because it may be designed to search for a racism that doesn’t exist (a possibility suggested by Globe and Mail Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife during a CPAC interview). We should be scrutinizing the consultations to make sure that meaningful outcomes are actually achieved. We should expect to see, just to name a few examples, a ban on police carding on the federal level; targeted funding to fight Islamophobia and other forms of hate; tougher sentences for hate crimes; increased investments in housing, health and social programs; an accelerated plan for safe drinking water on all reserves; and stronger independent police oversight bodies for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The timing of these consultations is also significant. With a federal election coming in 2019, a tour to study systemic racism could be used as a ploy to engage and garner support from racialized and Indigenous communities, with no intention on acting on the information shared. The Liberals are lucky that much of the research has already been done, but that means we must set high expectations for policy changes following the consultations. If real change does not result, the time spent in consultations will be wasted and another opportunity will be missed.

The contrary argument that greater political power of African Americans is ineffective in improving outcomes is made here (Williams: Black political power means zilch), essentially ignoring the impact that political power had in reducing some institutional barriers and systemic racism:

Jason Riley, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, tells how this surge in political power has had little beneficial impact on the black community.

In a PragerU video, “Blacks in Power Don’t Empower Blacks“, Riley says the conventional wisdom was based on the notion that only black politicians could understand and address the challenges facing blacks. Therefore, electing more black city councilors, mayors, representatives and senators was deemed critical.

…Riley says that the black experience in the U.S. has been very different from that of other racial groups. Blacks were enslaved. After emancipation, they faced legal and extralegal discrimination and oppression. But none of those difficulties undermines the proposition that human capital, in the forms of skills and education, is far more important than political capital.

Riley adds that the formula for prosperity is the same across the human spectrum. Traditional values — such as marriage, stable families, education and hard work — are immeasurably more important than the color of your mayor, police chief, representatives, senators and president.

As Riley argues in his new book — “False Black Power?” — the major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination. The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the anti-social, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.

As always, lots of antisemitism-related news, most notably France (‘Ethnic purging’: French stars and dignitaries condemn antisemitism), and the subsequent response by French Muslims (Accused of new anti-Semitism, French Muslims speak out) and Germany, where Rappers defend lyrics deemed anti-Semitic amid award backlash prompting Daniel Barenboim [to] return German music award in anti-Semitism row with the inevitable (?) result that Germany scraps music prize over antisemitism before ‘kippa march’).  As a show of public support, Germans of all faiths [participate] in ‘wear a kippa march’ against anti-Semitism. 

Some refreshing honesty from the former Anti Defamation League Director Abe Foxman (Former ADL Director: Trump has opened the ‘sewers’ of antisemitism.

John Ibbitson provides a thoughtful examination of the Canadian situation:

“The numbers stayed very high and are even up,” he said in an interview. “They’re not up as dramatically as they were last year, but they are higher than they were last year.”

An even bigger worry: While the lesser offence of harassment was the cause of the increase in 2016, in 2017 “the numbers of both violence and vandalism are up. The vandalism number is up quite significantly. It’s a serious proportional increase.”

But Ira Robinson, director of the Concordia University Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, isn’t so sure. His book A History of Antisemitism in Canada, which was published in 2015, concluded that anti-Semitic activity in this country had greatly declined in recent decades. He continues to monitor the situation, and believes there has been no significant increase, despite what B’nai Brith says.

“In terms of the type of stuff that I see, it’s very much the same,” he reports. “There is very little new under the sun.”

Twenty-first-century anti-Semitism is in part a by-product of both right-wing and left-wing populism. Both groups detest globalization, which they blame for lost jobs at home. From there, it is only a small, noxious step to conjure a globalist Jewish conspiracy.

“The negative impacts of globalization are often laid at the feet of Jews and this global Zionist conspiracy,” said Barbara Perry, a sociologist at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who specializes in hate crimes. “… It’s scarily similar from the left and the right, in that respect.”

Unfortunately, some Muslims harbour anti-Jewish thoughts, an import from their home countries. More often, though, Muslims and Jewish people are equally victims of racial hatred.

There is even an anti-Semitic variant that claims “Jewish privilege” contributes to systemic racism − though there is evidence that anonymous propaganda to that effect comes from the right, disguised as being from the left.

Anti-Semitism sometimes wears the mantle of anti-Zionism. But while criticism of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians is entirely legitimate, the hate-filled rants that often accompany the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) movement, which depicts Israel as an apartheid state, are anti-Semitism cloaked in righteousness.

Too often, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East produce anti-Zionist screeds in Canada that can result in attacks on Jewish people. “Local, national and global effects come into play,” Prof. Perry observed.

If the rise of populism coincides with, and might contribute to, rising anti-Semitism, then the absence of a populist wave in Canada is encouraging. But this country is not immune from such waves. Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto begat Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, his brother, who could well become a populist premier − although I am not suggesting in any way that Mr. Ford harbours racist sentiments of any kind.

But anti-Semitism can just as easily be found on university campuses as at right-wing rallies. It is present on the fringes of social democracy as well as conservatism. Elizabeth May has struggled to expunge it from the Green Party.

These are not harmonious times. Hatred of Jewish people is on the rise. It may be on the rise in Canada as well.

Vigilance.

Source: John Ibbitson: Could anti-Semitism be on the rise in Canada

Lastly,  J.K. Rowling Gave A Master Class In Identifying Anti-Semitism And It Was Magical:

“Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden,” she said. “Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #antisemitism.”

Rowling’s head-smacking was almost audible as she sorted through responses to that tweet, including one that said arguing against anti-Semitism was “culturally insensitive” to Muslims.

“When you only understand bigotry in terms of ‘pick a team’ and get a mind-boggling response,” she said.

She also reacted with impatience — attaching a GIF of an exasperated Hugh Laurie — when someone argued that Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic because they are Semites. “The ‘Arabs are semitic too’ hot takes have arrived,” she said.

Split hairs. Debate etymology,” she said in a tweet attached to a definition of anti-Semitism as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” “Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?”

StatsCan — Experiences of violent victimization and discrimination reported by minority populations in Canada, 2014

The latest from the General Social Survey which I look forward to reading in detail:

Immigrants and visible minorities less likely to report experiencing violent victimization

According to the most recent data from the General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), immigrants—regardless of citizenship or how long they have resided in Canada—were less likely than the Canadian-born population to report being victims of violent crime. In 2014, immigrants reported experiencing violent victimization—sexual assault, robbery or physical assault—at a rate of 39 incidents per 1,000 population, compared with a rate of 86 incidents per 1,000 people among the Canadian-born population. Similarly, individuals who self-identified as belonging to a visible minority group were less likely than their non-visible minority counterparts to report experiencing violence (55 versus 81 per 1,000 population). In terms of religious affiliation, individuals who reported a religion other than Christianity experienced violent victimization at a rate similar to people affiliated with Christianity (72 versus 67 per 1,000 population), the most commonly reported religious affiliation.

Today, three Juristat articles focusing on the self-reported experiences of violent victimization and discrimination among three populations of interest—immigrants, visible minorities and persons with a religious affiliation—are available. While each article discusses a specific population, they are not mutually exclusive. For example, according to Census of Population data, 65% of immigrants in Canada are visible minorities, 63% of visible minorities are immigrants, and 78% of people affiliated with a religion other than Christianity are visible minorities.

In general, the characteristics of violent incidents did not differ significantly according to immigrant status, visible minority status or religious affiliation. For example, the majority of incidents involved a single offender and, in most cases, the offender was male. Among the immigrant population specifically, recent immigrants (those who immigrated to Canada within the previous 10 years) and established immigrants (those who immigrated 10 or more years prior) reported similar rates of violent victimization. However, recent immigrant victims of violence were significantly more likely to report that the offender was a stranger (83%, compared with 31% of established immigrant victims).

Some populations more likely to report experiencing discrimination

While members of the immigrant and visible minority populations reported relatively low rates of violent victimization compared with their Canadian-born and non-visible minority counterparts, they were significantly more likely to report experiencing some form of discrimination on the basis of, for example, their ethnicity or culture, or race or skin colour.

In 2014, approximately one in six (17%) immigrants reported that they had experienced discrimination in the five years preceding the survey, compared with 12% of the Canadian-born population. More specifically, recent immigrants were more likely to have reported experiencing discrimination than established immigrants (20% versus 16%). More than four in ten (42%) of those recent immigrants who experienced discrimination indicated that it was due to their language, compared with just over one-quarter (27%) of established immigrants.

In terms of visible minority status, one in five (20%) of those who self-identified as a member of a visible minority group reported experiencing some form of discrimination in the preceding five years. This compared with 12% of the non-visible minority population. Among the visible minority population who reported experiencing discrimination, more than three in five (63%) believed that they were discriminated against because of their race or skin colour. Individuals who identified as Arab (29%), Black (27%) or Latin American (26%) were the most likely to report experiencing discrimination.

When it came to religious affiliation, individuals who reported an affiliation with a religion other than Christianity were more likely to report experiencing discrimination on the basis of their religion. More than 1 in 10 (11%) people who were affiliated with a religion other than Christianity reported experiencing discrimination on the basis of their religion, compared with 1% of people affiliated with a Christian religion.

Immigrants and visible minorities report experiencing discrimination at Canadian border

Regardless of immigrant status or visible minority status, Canadians most often reported experiencing discrimination at work, when applying for a job or promotion, or when they were in a store, bank or restaurant. There were no significant differences between immigrants and the Canadian-born population when it came to experiencing discrimination when dealing with the police. However, immigrants were significantly more likely than the Canadian-born population to indicate that they experienced some form of discrimination when crossing the border into Canada (12% versus 4%).

Visible minorities were nearly twice as likely as non-visible minorities to report experiencing discrimination when dealing with the police (13% versus 7%) and three times more likely when crossing the border into Canada (12% versus 4%).

Decline in reported experiences of discrimination among minority populations

Although immigrants and visible minorities were more likely than their Canadian-born and non-visible minority counterparts to report experiencing discrimination, the overall prevalence of perceived discrimination among these populations has declined in recent years. Specifically, among immigrants, the proportion of people who reported experiencing discrimination declined slightly from 19% in 2004 to 17% in 2014. A larger decline was observed within the visible minority population, down from 28% in 2004 to 20% in 2014.

Some groups feel less safe from crime

Most individuals were generally satisfied with their personal safety from crime—regardless of immigrant status, visible minority status or religious affiliation. There were, however, some notable differences in the degree to which people felt safe. For example, immigrants, visible minorities and individuals who were affiliated with a religion other than Christianity felt less safe from crime when home alone at night and when walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark.

via The Daily — Experiences of violent victimization and discrimination reported by minority populations in Canada, 2014

Systemic racism? Oh, there’s plenty to see here – Liz Renzetti

Good pointed column:

When the Liberal government announced it would talk to Canadians affected by systemic racism as a way to learn about it, there was a mass clapping of hands over ears across the country. “No racism here,” was the general consensus among people who have never experienced racism. “Nothing to see, move along.” Those who had experienced it, meanwhile, were getting their dusty welcome mats out of storage and putting on a pot of tea.

In all the brouhaha, this sentence from a Canadian Press story about the Liberal’s hush-hush strategy is perhaps my favourite, for the way it encapsulates both the learned deafness around the issue, and the way that a hugely important issue is being framed merely as a matter of political inconvenience: “Previous efforts to talk about racism have not gone well.”

I don’t think we need advanced degrees in sociology to understand why that is. If I were a princess sitting on vast parcels of land that I had acquired through various unseen networks that assisted my ascendance, I wouldn’t want to look too closely at the fine print on the deed, either. I, princess, would probably not support any close scrutiny that might deprive me of my lovely land. I would want to burn the fine print in my giant hearth. I would point to all the other princes and princesses who had never had a problem acquiring their masses of land as evidence that the land-management system was working quite well, thank you.

And all those people who somehow didn’t get any land from their parents, old friends, parents’ old friends, and land merchants who only sell to people whose names they can pronounce? Well, those people just need to work harder and fit in a bit better. Also, their complaints are too loud. Hush, now. Royalty is trying to sleep.

It’s painful to listen, I get that. There’s so much noise out there. But if you choose to listen to viewpoints that might be new to you, you’ll hear some fascinating and disturbing revelations about this country we love so much. Consider the report of a United Nations working group that consulted across Canada in 2016 and uncovered a legacy of anti-black racism that exists to this day, preventing many Canadians from achieving fair outcomes in education, housing and employment: “Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation and marginalization of African Canadians has left a legacy of anti-Black racism and had a deleterious impact on people of African descent.”

As Robyn Maynard writes in her 2017 book Policing Black Lives, this can be a difficult proposition to reconcile with our ideas of ourselves as tolerant, fair and founded on meritocracy: “Anti-black racism in Canada has been continually reconfigured to adhere to national myths of racial tolerance.” She then carefully lays out evidence of how this is so – how the criminal justice, education and social-welfare systems continue to discriminate against people in the black community. As she writes at the end of her book, “Reforms that do not also challenge the underlying systemic racism that creates disparities in the distribution of wealth and power in the first place are unlikely to effect meaningful change.”

This should not be a surprise. If anyone has read the barest minimum about carding or police profiling, or taken any interest in the systemic oppressions facing Indigenous people, from the disproportionate number of children in care to the lack of funding to support education and health care for those children, the idea that we live in a utopia of equal outcomes is absurd.

The work to reveal these disparities has been done: It’s been done, almost entirely, by people from racialized communities, which is why it’s doubly galling when white Canadians who have never once had to worry about being discriminated against on the basis of race refuse to listen. I think of what Simone de Beauvoir wrote 70 years ago in The Second Sex: ″There’s no good reason to believe men when they try to defend privileges whose scope they cannot even imagine.″ Being blind to your own advantages is comfortable, but it’s hardly honest. That feather bed you’re sleeping on? Maybe you didn’t actually earn it.

And for the people who do the hard lifting to reveal these unpleasant realities, the reward is often abuse. Take a look some time at the comments on the Twitter feeds of Indigenous or black activists and journalists who write on racial issues. You’ll need to put on a Hazmat suit before you do.

When Liberal MP Iqra Khalid sponsored a motion to study Islamophobia and racial discrimination in 2016, she was threatened with death and called a terrorist sympathizer. Critics of the motion she introduced, M-103, insisted it would crush free speech in the country and open the door for sharia law. Astonishingly, Canadians can (and do) still flap their gums at will, and can tune into talk radio to find people just like them flapping their gums in unison. There is, as yet, no sign of sharia councils taking over the local Tim Hortons.

Now, another woman of colour (perhaps the pattern is becoming clear) is facing a backlash for speaking up about systemic racism. Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who speaks frankly about the discrimination she hears about and encounters, has herself been called a racist for her outspokenness. Many supporters came to Ms. Caesar-Chavannes’s defence this week, which was a small ray of hope. Because when right-wing male commentators declare themselves experts on black women’s lives and experiences of discrimination, we have indeed tumbled down a rabbit hole. Or perhaps we haven’t: We’re just where we’ve always been, and that’s the problem.

The systemic racism consultation has been framed as a political problem for the Liberals, which seems like the worst kind of short-term thinking. I don’t actually care whether it’s a political problem; that’s for the Liberals to worry about. It’s a Canadian problem, and it’s not going away, even if we cover our eyes and ears and pretend there’s nothing there.

via Systemic racism? Oh, there’s plenty to see here – The Globe and Mail

Google’s Algorithm: History of Racism Against Black Women | Time

Interesting and convincing study of embedded bias in algorithms by Safiya Umoja, author of  Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism:

…Although I focus mainly on the example of black girls to talk about search bias and stereotyping, black girls are not the only girls and women marginalized in search. The results retrieved two years into this study, in 2013, representing Asian girls, Asian Indian girls, Latina girls, white girls, and so forth reveal the ways in which girls’ identities are commercialized, sexualized or made curiosities within the gaze of the search engine. Women and girls do not fare well in Google Search — that is evident.

Of course, these problems extend to non-gendered racism, as well. On June 6, 2016, Kabir Ali, an African American teenager from Clover High School in Midlothian, Va., tweeting under the handle @iBeKabir, posted a video to Twitter of his Google Images search on the keywords “three black teenagers.” The results that Google offered were of African American teenagers’ mug shots, insinuating that the image of Black teens is that of criminality. Next, he changed one word — “black” to “white” — with very different results. “Three white teenagers” were represented as wholesome and all-American. The video went viral within 48 hours, and Jessica Guynn, from USA Today, contacted me about the story. In typical fashion, Google reported these search results as an anomaly, beyond its control, to which I responded, “If Google isn’t responsible for its algorithm, then who is?” One of Ali’s Twitter followers later posted a tweak to the algorithm made by Google on a search for “three white teens” that now included a newly introduced “criminal” image of a white teen and more “wholesome” images of black teens.

What we know about Google’s responses to racial stereotyping in its products is that it typically denies responsibility or intent to harm, but then it is able to “tweak” or “fix” these aberrations or “glitches” in its systems.

What we need to ask is why and how we get these stereotypes in the first place and what the attendant consequences of racial and gender stereotyping do in terms of public harm for people who are the targets of such misrepresentation. Images of white Americans are persistently held up in Google’s images and in its results to reinforce the superiority and mainstream acceptability of whiteness as the default “good” to which all others are made invisible. There are many examples of this, where users of Google Search have reported online their shock or dismay at the kinds of representations that consistently occur. Meanwhile, when users search beyond racial identities and occupations to engage concepts such as “professional hairstyles,” they have been met with the kinds of images seen below. The “unprofessional hairstyles for work” image search, like the one for “three black teenagers,” went viral in 2016, with multiple media outlets covering the story, again raising the question, can algorithms be racist?

Where are black girls now?

Since I began the pilot study in 2010 and collected data through 2016, some things have changed. In 2012, I wrote an article for Bitch Magazine, which covers popular culture from a feminist perspective, after some convincing from my students that this topic is important to all people — not just black women and girls. I argued that we all want access to credible information that does not foster racist or sexist views of one another. I cannot say that the article had any influence on Google in any definitive way, but I have continued to search for black girls on a regular basis, at least once a month, and I can report that Google had changed its algorithm to some degree about five months after that article was published. After years of featuring pornography as the primary representation of black girls, Google made modifications to its algorithm, and the results as of the conclusion of this research can be seen here:

No doubt, as I speak around the world on this subject, audiences are often furiously doing searches from their smart phones, trying to reconcile these issues with the momentary results. Some days they are horrified, and other times, they are less concerned, because some popular and positive issue or organization has broken through the clutter and moved to a top position on the first page. Indeed, as my book was going into production, news exploded of biased information about the U.S. presidential election flourishing through Google and Facebook, which had significant consequences in the political arena.

I encourage us all to take notice and to reconsider the affordances and the consequences of our hyper-reliance on these technologies as they shift and take on more import over time. What we need now, more than ever, is public policy that advocates protections from the effects of unregulated and unethical artificial

via Google’s Algorithm: History of Racism Against Black Women | Time

ICYMI: Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism

Needed and appropriate follow-up to M-103 report broad emphasis on racism and discrimination across all groups and Budget 2018 funding for multiculturalism and measures targeted issues related to Black Canadians.

But will be difficult to manage and I don’t envy the public servants tasked with devising the consultations strategy and approach. I remember the Bouchard Taylor hearings about 10 years ago, and the recent town hall that MP Iqra Khalid held, that was far from being a respectful conversation:

Ottawa is set to launch pan-Canadian consultations on racism, a topic that has stirred controversy and divisions across the country in recent months.

The exact form and nature of the consultations is still being developed in the Department of Canadian Heritage and has yet to be unveiled to the public. Still, the government said it wants to create a new strategy to counter “systemic racism” and religious discrimination.

As the format for the new round of consultations is being debated, some federal officials are worried the forum could lead to acrimonious debates similar to last year’s controversy over a motion (M-103) to condemn Islamophobia across Canada. The motion, which did not affect existing legislation, was nonetheless roundly criticized in right-wing circles and conservative media as preventing any legitimate criticism of Islam.

Similar consultations have proven controversial in Quebec, where the government scrapped planned consultations on “systemic racism” last year over an outcry among media commentators and talk-show hosts. Instead, the Quebec government rebranded the mandate of the exercise to “valuing diversity and fighting against discrimination.”

According to last month’s federal budget, the coming “cross-country consultations on a new national anti-racism approach” will be funded out of a new $23-million envelope that is geared toward new multiculturalism programs.

“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths and has contributed significantly to our country. We recognize the need to counter all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and we are taking action to address the ongoing challenges and discrimination that still exist in our society,” said Simon Ross, a spokesman for Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

“We will also be consulting with Canadians to develop a national strategy to combat racism in Canada, and we look forward to speaking with experts, community organizations, citizens and interfaith leaders to find new ways to collaborate and combat discrimination as we develop this strategy,” he said.

The new round of consultations will enact a key recommendation made earlier this year by the Heritage committee of the House, which called on the government to engage in consultations as part of efforts to create Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism.

According to the Heritage committee’s report, an action plan against racism would ensure that the government would consider the impact of all policies on visible minorities, similar to existing gender-based analysis.

“Systemic racism occurs when government actions fail to address the needs of certain racialized groups within the population, resulting in unfair, discriminatory practices and outcomes. To expose and prevent systemic racism, a number of witnesses suggested the development of a race equity lens as a key element of a national action plan,” the report said.

Jasmin Zine, a professor of sociology and Muslim studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the government should learn lessons from the debate over M-103 that was “hijacked” by concerns over the definition of Islamophobia.

“They have to be handled better than the initial parliamentary hearings were,” she said in an interview. “In the best-case scenario, the consultations could be a way to recuperate what was lost in the committee process. In the worst-case scenario, it will only reproduce the divisions and the political divides that were derailing this process from the beginning.”

She added the government cannot ignore Islamophobia as part of its study of racism and must not be afraid of confronting the root causes of racism.

“We can’t just wrap things up in nice, liberal, Kumbaya sentiments. We have to look at the issues that are critical for marginalized communities, such as questions of social inequality, power, privilege and the way racism is embedded in all institutions and levels of society,” Ms. Zine said.

Tensions are running high among federal politicians over the issue of racism, with Conservative MP Maxime Bernier accusing the government of exploiting the debate to win support in various communities.

“I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same,” Mr. Bernier said on Twitter earlier this month.

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes shot back that research has shown that pretending not to see someone’s skin colour “contributes to racism.”

“Please check your privilege and be quiet,” she responded to Mr. Bernier on Twitter, before apologizing for her language.

The Conservative Party said in a statement that the coming consultations on racism need to be established in a way that unites Canadians.

“We hope that consultations on a subject as sensitive as this one will be conducted in an orderly fashion. It is now up to the government to ensure that they are well structured and constructive,” Conservative spokeswoman Virginie Bonneau said.

via Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism – The Globe and Mail

John Ibbitson on the political risks:

With its message of hope transmuting dangerously into hectoring, the Trudeau government needs to be wary about the upcoming national consultations on racism. The exercise could further damage an already-weakened Liberal brand.

Justin Trudeau won the 2015 election on a promise of transformative change after a decade of Conservative inaction. The new government pledged to tackle climate change, forge a more respectful relationship with Indigenous Canadians and rescue refugees in peril.

Two-and-a-half years later, the national carbon tax, which is the chief strategy to combat global warming, is in peril from provincial conservatives in Ontario and Alberta who vow to scrap it if they come to power.

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is behind schedule and beset with inner turmoil, even as Indigenous protesters and environmentalists vow to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline from ever being built.

And instead of feeling good about rescuing refugees, we’re told we should feel guilty because so we’re so racist.

Ottawa committed $23-million in the last budget to new multiculturalism programs, including funding that will go to a national consultation on “systemic racism” and religious discrimination. The goal will be to develop a “national strategy to combat racism in Canada.”

This comes in the wake of Motion 103, the non-binding resolution that asserted “the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Conservatives complained the resolution would prohibit any form of criticism of Islam. It would not. More problematic, though, is the notion of an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” Who says? There is compelling evidence that Canada, with its wide-open immigration policy, is the most tolerant country on earth.

Nonetheless, a committee crisscrossing the country in search of intolerance is bound to find it, and to publicize that finding. This is of a piece with this government’s fondness for making people feel bad about themselves.

You may be proud of your home and your community, but you’re living on unceded Indigenous land, as Liberal cabinet ministers insist almost everywhere they go.

You may consider yourself environmentally responsible, but that SUV you drive is an abomination, which is the whole reason behind the carbon tax.

You may consider yourself free of prejudice, but apparently this country suffers from systemic racism and Islamophobia, which is why we need a task force.

As conservative commentators and politicians are certain to point out, the worst example of religious discrimination under way right now might come from the Liberal government itself. Employment and Social Development Canada has cancelled funding for a summer-jobs program to churches and other religious organizations because they refuse to affirm on the application form that they respect “reproductive rights and the right to be free of discrimination” on the basis of, among other things, “sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

There are people of faith of all religions who oppose abortion and who do not condone same-sex acts. On that basis, faith-based organizations have been denied funding, even though the students they would hire would be serving as camp counselors and the like, and would not be asked to proselytize.

This writer can think of another government that believed it was morally superior to the people it served. Bob Rae’s Ontario NDP claimed affirmative action was needed to counter sexism; photo radar was needed because people drove too fast; an anti-racism secretariat was needed because of racial prejudice. Voters did not take this well.

If your government accuses you of being a bad person, you are unlikely to become a better person. You are more likely to change the government.

The Liberals’ sudden and dramatic decline in popularity is entirely reversible. Governing parties often slump mid-mandate, then rebound when earlier investments start to pay off. By this time next year, Mr. Trudeau could be back on top and looking forward to the fall election campaign.

But if the Grits really do want to get back in the voters’ good graces, they need to stop lecturing so much. We’re not as bad as they say we are, and they’re not as enlightened as they think they are.

This new consultation on systemic racism should keep a low profile. ​

Liberal investigation into systemic racism should keep a low profile

And appropriate caution regarding the government’s ability to manage these consultations given both its consultation record and the sensitive and uncomfortable nature of the subject. That being said, while yes it makes sense for the government to focus on issues and entities under its jurisdiction, there is place for a broader conversation regarding systemic racism and barriers across all levels of government and institutions in Canada:

Canada’s self-image is of an open, inclusive society – one of the planet’s most welcoming places.

And in relative terms, that’s mostly true. Ours is an unusually successful national story. But step back a few paces and the picture begins to look ever so slightly askew.

It’s time to face an uncomfortable fact: We have complex societal systems and, yes, they too often discriminate against people on the basis of skin colour, religion or national origin. It is not a collective moral failure to admit that systemic racism exists in Canada – that is, historically entrenched discrimination in the rules, policies and practices governing institutions. It is an acknowledgment of reality.

Anyone who claims otherwise or takes umbrage at the descriptor is invited to speak to an Indigenous Canadian. Or to any of the thousands of black Canadians who have been forced to submit to police carding. Or to an unemployed Muslim woman. The list could go on.

While we are a country of immigrants – Canada has the world’s highest per capita immigration rate; the 2016 census revealed 21.9 per cent of us were born elsewhere – our immigrants tend not to earn as good a living as the native-born.

According to Statistics Canada, new Canadians, who are also often visible minorities, are more than twice as likely to be jobless, and those who do find work earn 16 per cent less, on average, than so-called “old stock” Canadians.

The immigration income gap is real and the numbers indicate it is growing, even for second-generation Canadians. It’s not because Canada admits people with low education levels or insufficient skills – quite the opposite. We choose the best of the best, and then have them drive cabs.

Institutional barriers are part of the problem, the most obvious being a persistent unwillingness to recognize foreign qualifications.

But prejudice is also a factor. A 2011 study by University of Toronto economist Philip Oreopoulos found that fictitious resumes featuring foreign-sounding names or work experience were three times more likely to be tossed aside by would-be employers. The most-cited reason for doing so was concern over language skills, which other research has identified as a proxy for discrimination.

So what to do? For a start, our governments could stand to listen more closely to marginalized voices. As it happens, Ottawa is in the midst of planning a national public consultation on racism and religious discrimination. We hope the effort produces some benefit. But recent precedent gives us ample cause to fear it won’t.

The Trudeau Liberals took a worthy idea in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry, made a hash of it and likely set it up to fail. It didn’t put enough care into the planning, hoping instead that the symbolic value of the inquiry would alone be enough to see it through.

This government is also insufficiently wary of the dangers of identity politics, as evidenced by the culture war it started after it denied summer-job grants to religious groups that are overtly anti-abortion or don’t support gay marriage.

Plus, it can be a challenge to keep any examination of racism from going off the rails. The Quebec government proposed a similar public discussion after six Muslims were shot dead in a Quebec City mosque last year. That quickly devolved into a partisan bun-fight over nomenclature – you’re painting everyone as racist! – and was subsequently watered down into empty banter about “valuing diversity.”

Ottawa can only avoid those pitfalls by focusing on itself – on institutions like the Canadian Armed Forces, the civil service and the RCMP, and on federal policies and programs.

It must not involve itself in provincial and local issues (such as municipal policing practices), or engage in sweeping conclusions about Canadian society at large. The terms of reference must be perfectly clear and appropriately narrow.

It’s critical to not get this wrong. Ottawa should examine the negative consequences of its policies on racial and religious minorities. All governments should.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose city is attempting to reckon with its racist history, said recently, “Here is what I have learned about race: You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You have to go through it.”

If Ottawa does that intelligently and constructively, Canada might become a better country for it. But we have real doubts about the Trudeau government’s ability to lead such an effort without making a hash of it.

Source: Globe editorial: The problem with Ottawa’s plan to consult the public on racism? Ottawa itself