The 2020 census had big undercounts of Black people, Latinos and Native Americans

More on the census and undercounts:

The 2020 census continued a longstanding trend of undercounting Black people, Latinos and Native Americans, while overcounting people who identified as white and not Latino, according to estimates from a report the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.

Latinos — with a net undercount rate of 4.99% — were left out of the 2020 census at more than three times the rate of a decade earlier.

Among Native Americans living on reservations (5.64%) and Black people (3.30%), the net undercount rates were numerically higher but not statistically different from the 2010 rates.

People who identified as white and not Latino were overcounted at a net rate of 1.64%, almost double the rate in 2010. Asian Americans were also overcounted (2.62%). The bureau said based on its estimates, it’s unclear how well the 2020 tally counted Pacific Islanders.

The long-awaited findings came from a follow-up survey the bureau conductedto measure the accuracy of the latest head count of people living in the U.S., which is used to redistribute political representation and federal funding across the country for the next 10 years.

Other estimates the bureau released on Thursday revealed that the most recent census followed another long-running trend of undercounting young children under age 5.

COVID and Trump administration meddling hurt the count’s accuracy

While the bureau’s stated goal is to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” miscounts have come with every census. Some people are counted more than once at different addresses, driving overcounts, while U.S. residents missing from the census fuel undercounting.

Disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic and interference by former President Donald Trump’s administration raised alarms about the increased risk of the once-a-decade tally missing swaths of the country’s population. COVID-19 also caused multiple delays to the bureau’s Post-Enumeration Surveythat’s used to determine how accurate the census results are and inform planning for the next national count in 2030.

During the news conference announcing the follow-up survey results, Census Bureau Director Robert Santos — who, before becoming the agency’s head, told Bloomberg CityLab that he believed the census was “being sabotaged” during the Trump administration to produce results that benefit Republicans — acknowledged “an unprecedented set of challenges” facing the bureau over the last couple of years.

“Many of you, including myself, voiced concerns. How could anyone not be concerned? These findings will put some of those concerns to rest and leave others for further exploration,” Santos, a Biden administration appointee, said during the news conference announcing the follow-up survey results.

The bureau said previously that it believes the census results are “fit to use” for reallocating each state’s share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes, as well as redrawing voting districts.

Census numbers are also used to guide the distribution of an estimated $1.5 trillion each year in federal money to communities for health care, education, transportation and other public services. Some tribal, state and local officials are considering ways of challenging the results for potential corrections that would be factored into future funding decisions.

The report the bureau released on Thursday only provided a national-level look at the count’s accuracy, and the agency says it’s planning to release state-level metrics this summer.

“There are a lot more states for us to check and review and look through,” said Timothy Kennel, assistant division chief for statistical methods, during a webinar before Thursday’s release.

Civil rights groups are looking for remedies

Still, these national-level metrics resurfaced concerns among civil rights organizations and other census watchers who have warned for years about the risk of racial gaps in the census numbers leading to inequitable allocations of political power and federal money.

In response to the bureau reporting that American Indians and Alaska Natives living on reservations continued to have the highest net undercount rate among racial and ethnic groups, Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said the results “confirm our worst fears.”

“Every undercounted household and individual in our communities means lost funding and resources that are desperately needed to address the significant disparities we face,” added Sharp, who is also the vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation in Taholah, Wash., in a statement.

Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, which led a federal lawsuit in 2020 to try to stop Trump officials from cutting counting efforts short, said the group’s lawyers are considering returning to court to try to secure a remedy.

“We’ve talked about voter suppression. Now we see population suppression,” Morial said on a call with reporters. “And when you tie them together, it is the poisonous tree of seeking to diminish the distribution of power in this nation on a fair and equitable basis.”

Other longtime census watchers see this moment as a chance to reimagine what the next count in 2030 could look like

Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, said the next census should be taken in a “much more modern and effective way” to address the persistent undercounting of Latinos and other people of color.

“This whole notion of coming up with a master address file and mailing everybody an invitation to participate and hoping that they respond, and if they don’t, you go knock on their doors, that’s an obsolete way now of counting the U.S. population. We need a better way. I don’t have the answer to what that better way is, but I want to work with the Census Bureau to figure it out,” Vargas added.

In addition to looking ahead to the next decade, Vargas noted a more immediate concern: how to improve the annual population estimates that the bureau produces using 2020 census data and that states and local communities rely on to get their shares of federal funding.

Asked by NPR if there are any plans to factor the new over and undercounting rates into those estimates, Karen Battle, chief of the bureau’s population division, replied the agency is “taking steps in that direction.”

“But we have to do research so that we can understand whether or not we can do that,” Battle said.

Source: The 2020 census had big undercounts of Black people, Latinos and Native Americans

One in 10 Black people living in the U.S. are immigrants, new study shows

By way of comparison, the percent of Blacks in Canada who are immigrants is 52 percent:

The demographics of America’s Black population are in the middle of a major shift, with 1 in 10 having been born outside the United States. That’s 4.6 million Americans, a figure that is projected to grow to 9.5 million by 2060, according to the findings of a Pew Research Center study published Thursday.

“When we talk about the nation’s Black population, we have to understand it is one that is changing and becoming even more diverse than it already was, and immigrants are a big part of that story and so the immigrant experience is a growing part of the experience of Black Americans today,” said Mark Lopez, Pew’s director of race and ethnicity research.

Black immigrants and their American-born children make up 21 percent of the nation’s Black population, with an increasing number of migrants coming from Africa, according to the report. Lopez said it’s a group that often is overlooked in discussions about immigration.

Source: One in 10 Black people living in the U.S. are immigrants, new study shows

Facebook Apologizes After Its AI Labels Black Men As ‘Primates’

Ouch!

Facebook issued an apology on behalf of its artificial intelligence software that asked users watching a video featuring Black men if they wanted to see more “videos about primates.” The social media giant has since disabled the topic recommendation feature and says it’s investigating the cause of the error, but the video had been online for more than a year.

A Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times on Friday, whichfirst reported on the story, that the automated prompt was an “unacceptable error” and apologized to anyone who came across the offensive suggestion.

The video, uploaded by the Daily Mail on June 27, 2020, documented an encounter between a white man and a group of Black men who were celebrating a birthday. The clip captures the white man allegedly calling 911 to report that he is “being harassed by a bunch of Black men,” before cutting to an unrelated video that showed police officers arresting a Black tenant at his own home.

Former Facebook employee Darci Groves tweeted about the error on Thursday after a friend clued her in on the misidentification. She shared a screenshot of the video that captured Facebook’s “Keep seeing videos about Primates?” message.

“This ‘keep seeing’ prompt is unacceptable, @Facebook,” she wrote. “And despite the video being more than a year old, a friend got this prompt yesterday. Friends at [Facebook], please escalate. This is egregious.”

This is not Facebook’s first time in the spotlight for major technical errors. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s name appeared as “Mr. S***hole” on its platform when translated from Burmese to English. The translation hiccup seemed to be Facebook-specific, and didn’t occur on Google, Reuters had reported.

However, in 2015, Google’s image recognition software classified photos of Black people as “gorillas.” Google apologized and removed the labels of gorilla, chimp, chimpanzee and monkey words that remained censored over two years later, Wired reported.

Facebook could not be reached for comment.

Source: Facebook Apologizes After Its AI Labels Black Men As ‘Primates’

Regg-Cohn: Surprised that some Black people and Latinos voted for Trump? Try looking at them as individuals

Good commentary on the diversity within groups:

In other news, it turns out that more Blacks, Latinos and gays turned out for Donald Trump this time than last time.

Why is that news? The only surprise is that anyone is surprised.

That certain groups are presumed to vote in their supposed self-interest — as determined by other groups who know better what’s best for them — is not merely presumptuous. It’s profiling.

Today, some of the same social critics who warn against stereotyping Blacks or Latinos are now scratching their heads about why they didn’t vote as expected in the U.S. presidential election. Profiling can be perilous.

Today, some of the same social critics who warn against stereotyping Blacks or Latinos are now scratching their heads about why they didn’t vote as expected in the U.S. presidential election. Profiling can be perilous.

It is a human impulse. But impossibly dehumanizing at times.

Profiling seeks out similarities, but it is pointless if we forget individual differences. It relies on the notion that people of similar backgrounds or aspirations hold similar beliefs, live in similar neighbourhoods, and so on.

Profiling seeks out similarities, but it is pointless if we forget individual differences. It relies on the notion that people of similar backgrounds or aspirations hold similar beliefs, live in similar neighbourhoods, and so on.

The biggest problems with profiling are the premises and definitions that underlie it. That more Latinos voted for Trump this time tells us little of interest, because it’s such an imprecise term (and is overshadowed by the overpowering reality that whites voted massively and decisively for him).

Latinos range from anti-Communist arch-capitalists in Miami’s Cuban émigré community to impoverished Honduran refugees fleeing drug wars via Mexico, to second-generation strivers in Texas or Arizona aspiring to join the ruling Republican establishment. Ethnic is not monolithic.

Just as LGBTQ voters can be Republican or Democrat, Latinos are more different than they are alike.

Profiling is a tool and a template. It is a form of demography and part of democracy, for better or for worst — which is why pollsters, political operatives and party fundraisers mine the data to harvest votes and donations at election time.

They’re just more sophisticated than the rest of us in slicing and dicing the fruit salad. They know that skin colour is only skin deep, so they drill down for other demographic details such as education, income, location.

That’s why postal codes are the preferred proxies for pollsters. Yet zeitgeist and zip codes are rarely congruent.

My own education in demographic divisions came when I was posted to the Toronto Star’s Middle East bureau years ago. Despite my background as a political reporter, I only realized as a foreign correspondent how many ways Israelis could be subdivided.

Not merely as hawks versus doves, but ethnic Ashkenazi versus Sephardi; secular Russian immigrants versus ultra-Orthodox Haredi; socialist kibbutzniks versus modern Orthodox Jewish settlers; urban versus suburban; Muslim and Christian Arab citizens versus Jewish citizens; and last but not least, left versus right. The miracle was how quickly those internecine divisions melted away when Israelis faced an external enemy and existential threat; and how quickly the internal tensions returned (Palestinians, too, fought their own civil war in Gaza between Islamist Hamas rejectionists and secular Yasser Arafat loyalists).

The security services typecast people as safe or threatening based not only on background but back story and behaviour — whether at airport check-ins, military checkpoints or political rallies. Which is why Yitzhak Rabin’s security guards let down their guard when a kippah-wearing orthodox Jew chatted them up before assassinating the prime minister — he didn’t fit their Palestinian profile of a clear and present danger.

Stephen Harper’s Tories made inroads in the GTA suburbs by appealing to the traditional values of many immigrant communities that converged with conservatism. His then-minister of multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, once sat me down to demonstrate his mastery of Chinese Canadian demographics — delineating early anti-Communist immigrants from Taiwan, subsequent waves of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong dual citizens, and more recent (more apolitical) arrivals from mainland China.

The New Democratic Party — founded as an alliance between the co-operative agricultural movement and the labour movement — long ago learned the working class would not reflexively rally to their side. If workers are reluctant to recognize their own enlightened self-interest — rallying to Doug Ford’s Tories even when they campaigned on cancelling a minimum wage hike and then freezing it for years — why are progressives perplexed when Blacks or Latinos warm up to Trump?

Vote-determining issues are more likely to be economic than ethnic, and political preferences are often more idiosyncratic than ideological. That’s only human.

The point is that profiling tells you everything and nothing about people. Just as postal codes are imprecise — people are unpredictable.

Political parties bank on profiling because there’s much to gain from voters and donors, and little to lose from mass mailings or email blasting that misses the mark. The minimal cost of bulk postage and mass spamming is a mere rounding error.

The point is that profiling tells you everything and nothing about people. Just as postal codes are imprecise — people are unpredictable.

Political parties bank on profiling because there’s much to gain from voters and donors, and little to lose from mass mailings or email blasting that misses the mark. The minimal cost of bulk postage and mass spamming is a mere rounding error.

The rest of us can’t afford to be so reckless with our wild guesses, unproven hunches and dehumanizing assumptions. If the penalty of your profiling is an assassin’s bullet, or an airplane bombing, or a human rights humiliation, then the miscalculation yields an incalculable cost.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2020/11/11/surprised-that-blacks-and-latinos-voted-for-donald-trump-try-looking-at-them-as-individuals.html

Pet Owners Are Diverse, but Veterinarians Are Overwhelmingly White. Black Veterinarians Want to Change That

Of interest:

As a child, Tierra Price was mesmerized by Dr. Dolittle, portrayed by Eddie Murphy in the 1998 film—not only because he could talk to dogs and sad circus tigers, but because he was a person of color who treated animals. “That resonated deeply with me,” says Price, who wore an oversized white coat and carried around a stuffed Dalmatian for her first-grade career day. “I grew up thinking that I was going to be one of the first Black veterinarians because I had never seen any,” says Price, now 26.

There were no Black doctors at vet clinics near her Louisville, Ky. home or at the local animal shelter where she volunteered. Price didn’t see her first real Black veterinarian until she was 19 and participating in a veterinary program for minority undergraduates. By the time she started veterinary school, she felt like an outcast. In 2018, Price created an online networking group for Black vets just to connect and commiserate with people who looked like her. “I was going into a profession I didn’t really belong in,” she says.

Years later, not much has changed. Veterinarians are projected to be among the most in-demand workers in the next decade. As more people of all races own pets, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts jobs for vets and vet technicians will grow 16% by 2029. Nearly 65% of white households have pets, 61% of Hispanic households have pets, and almost 37% of Black households have pets, according to the most recent industry data. Yet pet lovers are faced with a predominantly white world once it’s time to see a vet. Of the more than 104,000 veterinarians in the nation, nearly 90% are white, less than 2% are Hispanic and almost none are Black, according to 2019 BLS figures.

This spring, Kimberley Glover spent nearly two months searching for a Black veterinarian in Birmingham, Ala., to care for her 2-year-old puppy Stokely—named after civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael—and to serve as a role model for her two children, who attend predominantly white schools. After scouring the internet and Facebook groups for Black pet owners, she finally received a suggestion from a college classmate, but the clinic was too far away.

“I have given up the search, honestly,” says Glover, 46. “It just tells me there’s more work to do.” Price, who graduated from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in May and is now a veterinarian in Los Angeles, agrees. “We have so much catching up to do,” she says.

Stark disparities have permeated the vet world for decades, advocates say, long before George Floyd’s death in May sparked a national movement for racial justice. In 2013, the profession was dubbed the whitest in America. “It has always been a problem,” says Annie J. Daniel, who founded the nonprofit National Association for Black Veterinarians (NABV). “This was just the wake-up call.”

Despite youth outreach efforts at schools and community partnerships to grow the number of Black veterinarians, the group has barely moved the needle since it was formed in 2016. In fact, the number of Black vets dropped from 2.1% of the total vet population in 2016 to below 1% in 2019, which Daniel says is largely due to systemic racism. “In this day and time, you don’t stay that way unless you’re ignorant to the fact that diversity is good,” Daniel says. “Or,” she adds, “you just don’t care that you’re purposefully omitting a group of people.”

Many issues prevent the veterinary profession from becoming more diverse. Chief among them is a lack of access and exposure to veterinarians at an early age, particularly among children who live in urban or low-income areas, where pet healthcare is considered more of a luxury, advocates say. “It’s not that they don’t want to become veterinarians,” Price says, “but they don’t know that it’s a career option.”

Such was the case for Dr. Will Draper, 53, who didn’t live near vet clinics or animal shelters while growing up in a predominantly Black community in Inglewood, Calif. Differing cultural views on animals also limited his exposure to veterinarians. “I didn’t really have many pets growing up because my father didn’t like animals,” says Draper, who now runs his own practice in Decatur, Georgia with his wife. Draper loved animals, but he didn’t realize he wanted to enter the field until his father took him to see the College of Veterinary Medicine at his alma mater, Tuskegee University. The historically Black college has educated more than 70% of the nation’s current Black vets. Draper was hooked after one visit.

‘Mountains and mountains of debt’

For many others, getting into vet school and paying for it pose additional challenges. On top of requiring prospective students to complete a number of undergraduate prerequisite courses, which can be costly, many top vet schools require or recommend that applicants have hundreds of hours of clinical experience working with animals and licensed veterinarians. Even before the pandemic, Price says that was tough for applicants who don’t live near clinics or shelters, especially if they have to work to support themselves or their families. “A lot of the experience that you have to have to get into veterinary school, you’re not paid for,” Price says. “That really selects for populations that have the luxury of forgoing income.”

In 2019, veterinary students in the U.S. graduated with an average of $150,000 in debt, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Yet federal data shows the median annual wage for veterinarians in 2019 was about $95,000. Starting salaries were much lower. It costs graduate students attending in-state vet schools at Cornell University in New York and at the University of California, Davis upwards of $32,000 per academic year for just tuition and fees, according to the schools’ websites. Tuition for Tuskegee’s vet school costs more than $20,000 per semester. “When they come out of veterinary school,” Price says, “they’re under mountains and mountains of debt.”

While many young veterinarians are wracked with student debt, no matter their race, daily discrimination in the workplace is another job challenge. Draper—who stars in a reality TV show called Love & Vets on Disney Plus—is often the first Black veterinarian his clients have ever seen. In turn, at least two have refused his service. More than 30 years ago, Draper says an older white man balked when he saw that Draper was Black. The man insisted a white doctor treat his chihuahua, Tiny, who was suffering from congestive heart failure.

“He said Tiny doesn’t see colored people,” Draper recalls. He saved the chihuahua that day, but the man referred to Draper as “the colored doctor” for the next couple of appointments. “Nobody would have blamed me if I told that guy to screw off,” Draper says. “But that’s not what it was about.” When asked if clients have mistaken Draper for a technician or assistant, Draper laughs. “All the time,” he says, adding that they often insist on speaking to the clinic’s owner. “One time, I even said, ‘Hold on,’” Draper says. “I walked away and came back and said, ‘I am the owner.’”

For Black veterinarians and pet owners, systemic racism in the industry is the norm. That’s why Cheryl Kearney, 65, has no problem driving more than 50 miles to and from Detroit each time her 6-month-old kitten, Roger, needs to see a doctor. Kearney says she’s had negative experiences with her own white doctors speaking to her condescendingly, assuming that because she’s a Black woman, she wouldn’t understand their explanations unless they dumbed them down. Kearney says she couldn’t bear enduring that discomfort when it came to caring for her “baby” Roger, so she made it a point to find a Black vet. “It was a much more personal experience,” she says.

Dion Hobbs, a 46-year-old Houston financial advisor, also noticed that difference when he switched to a Black vet. Hobbs had been taking his 11-year-old dog Sadie to the same vet, who’s white, for more than a decade when Sadie cut open her back leg in June—her first major injury. Hobbs says he was disappointed with the clinic’s bedside manner during a vulnerable and frightening time.

“Competency wasn’t the issue,” he says. “I thought there would at least be a little bit more warmth in the conversion.” Hobbs says he doesn’t think race played a major role in what he considered Sadie’s chilly treatment, but he saw the experience as an opportunity to give his business instead to a Black veterinarian, who he says has shown more compassion. “If I’m going to spend my dollars,” he says, “why not have it go to someone who looks like me?”

An industry slow to change

When an industry is stifled by homogeneity, it can breed a culture of leaders often inflexible to change, advocates say. Amid a pandemic, when social distancing restrictions limited in-person appointments, some veterinarians criticized the AVMA for not tweaking its telemedicine policy, which discourages vets from prescribing medication or diagnosing new pet patients remotely except in emergency situations. The AVMA said it does not regulate or set laws that govern the use of telemedicine, but some vets say industry leaders should be better champions for changing those laws nationwide. For some, it was the latest example that the industry was not keeping up with the times.

<strong>“Pets need us. People need us, and aspiring veterinarians need us to drive a change for the profession.”</strong>“The veterinary industry, in general, has been very resistant to change in every facet,” Price says. Since July, nearly 6,000 people have signed an online petition, written by nearly a dozen multicultural advocacy groups, calling for the AVMA to take concrete steps to assess where it stands with inclusion issues and to ensure an equitable process for all. “Our profession could really benefit from more diversity because it brings creativity,” Price says. “It brings innovation and it brings new ideas.”

In a statement to TIME, the AVMA, which has more than 95,000 members, said it was “building on” efforts to “further infuse” inclusion into its programs and outreach. It added that it would develop new programs to bring leaders of color to the forefront and that it would work to amplify multicultural vet advocacy groups. In July, the AVMA approved the idea of forming a commission to assess diversity issues, but it has not yet been created. “Transformative change doesn’t happen overnight,” says AVMA President Dr. Douglas Kratt. “It will take an industry-wide, profession-wide collaborative effort to move the needle and to attract more young people to consider a career in veterinary medicine. No single organization can do this alone.”

Now, amid America’s racial reckoning, more leaders are pledging to step up. On Sept. 14, Banfield Pet Hospital, one of the nation’s largest employers of veterinary professionals, announced it would invest $1 million in diversity efforts and ensure at least 30% of its veterinarians and support staff are people of color by 2030. “This is absolutely just the start,” says Dr. Molly McAllister, Banfield’s chief medical officer. Banfield also gave $125,000 to help in-need Tuskegee vet students afford their schooling. “This is a critical time,” McAllister says. “Pets need us. People need us, and aspiring veterinarians need us to drive a change for the profession.”

A new vet school that opened at the University of Arizona in August is among those that have stopped requiring applicants to have a minimum number of hours of clinical experience. Instead, applicants can explain how they’ve found success in the face of hardship or how they’ve adapted to change. Of the 110 students in its inaugural class, 33% were minorities, officials say.

“We should not exclude someone from our profession just because they may come from an underserved community,” says Julie Funk, the vet school’s dean. “The very future of the veterinary profession is dependent on our ability to serve society as a whole.” Several other vet schools have recently hired managers to oversee diversity efforts or have donated to scholarships that help underrepresented minority students. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges says it reached a milestone in 2020 of having about 20% of its total enrollment consisting of racial and ethnic underrepresented minorities.

There’s no better moment for industry leaders to commit, advocates say. The demographics of the U.S. are changing, and so are those of pet owners. A record high number of Americans own pets, according to the American Pet Products Association trade group, with estimates ranging from 56.8% to more than 65% of U.S. households. Minority groups are fueling that growth, a 2019 study found. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of Hispanic pet owners increased 44%, the number of Black pet owners grew 24% but the white pet owner population went up only 2%, according to the study. At this rate, Daniel says, the industry could suffer financially if it doesn’t keep up with the needs of the changing pet-owning population.

“We have to do more,” Daniel says, “and this is the time.”

Source: Pet Owners Are Diverse, but Veterinarians Are Overwhelmingly White. Black Veterinarians Want to Change That

Professor’s use of racial slur ignites uOttawa debate

Interesting debate. From my reading, the professor was using the word in the context of reappropriation by Blacks and not in a gratuitous manner, although she would have been wiser to say the “N-word.” On the other hand, in popular culture, the term has been used by rap artists as well as by directors such as Spike Lee, Tarantino and others. So should it always be off-limits or do context and intent matter?

The student union at the University of Ottawa is calling on University president Jacque Frémont to denounce a group of professors who defended the right to use “racial slurs” as a part of academic freedom.

The slur in question was the N-word, which was used by a part-time sociology professor last month in a Zoom discussion on language and the reappropriation of offensive words by groups such as people of colour, the disabled and the LGBTQ communities. In a statement posted online Sunday night, the University of Ottawa Student Union complained that the N-word remains “offensive, hurtful and reprehensible.”

Source: Professor’s use of racial slur ignites uOttawa debate

The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity

Interesting historical account:

How did Africans become “blacks” in the Americas?

Those who were forced into the ships of the infamous slave trade probably thought of themselves using ethnic and territorial terms that have been lost to us. But across the ocean, enslavers and local elites lumped Africans of many different backgrounds into a single category of debasement, “n—–s,” and sustained this category through laws that regulated freedom.

But the creation of racial identity through legal means took some surprising turns.

From the beginning, enslaved people and free people of African ancestry used those same laws to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. They created spaces for communities where “blackness” and freedom were not only possible, but foundational.

Although free people of color were few in number compared to enslaved people, and lived on the margins of plantation societies in many ways, the contests over their identities, status, and rights were the terrain on which race was made. Legal contests over freedom determined whether and how it was possible to move from slave to free status, and whether claims of citizenship would be tied to racial identity.

By the early 18th century, Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana (all colonies themselves, of the Spanish, British, and French Empires, respectively), had legal regimes that constituted blackness as a debased category equivalent to enslavement. But 150 years later, by the mid-19th century, the social implications of blackness in each of these regions were fundamentally different.

In Cuba in the 1850s, a free man of color could marry a white woman, attend public school, and participate in a religious association that gave him opportunities to be part of public life. But, in 1850s Louisiana or Virginia, a free man of color saw his churches and schools being shut down, faced prosecution for marrying across the color line, and ran the risk of being kidnapped, imprisoned, and even re-enslaved for remaining in the state in which he was born.

In Louisiana or Virginia, when a person sought to prove in court that he was not a person of color, he would bring evidence of civic acts, because citizenship and whiteness were so closely linked in political thought and legal doctrine that a citizen must be a white man, and only a white man could be a citizen. In Cuba, similar conduct was not necessarily incompatible with blackness.

The key to understanding these divergent trajectories lies in the law of freedom. Different approaches to freedom were rooted in various legal traditions. The right to manumission, for example, was firmly entrenched in the Spanish law of slavery, and so in Cuba manumission, or release from slavery, was not tied to race, a crucial difference from both Louisiana and Virginia.

One turning point in this story was the Age of Revolution. The populations of free people of color, who claimed freedom in rising numbers, exploded in all three jurisdictions, and the example of the Haitian Revolution inspired the enslaved as it struck fear in the hearts of enslavers.

In Cuba in the 1850s, a free man of color could marry a white woman, attend public school, and participate in a religious association that gave him opportunities to be part of public life. But, in 1850s Louisiana or Virginia, a free man of color saw his churches and schools being shut down, faced prosecution for marrying across the color line, and ran the risk of being kidnapped, imprisoned, and even re-enslaved for remaining in the state in which he was born.

But the expansion of freedom meant different things in the Spanish empire and in the U.S. republic. Communities of people of color in Cuba and Spanish Louisiana owed their existence to legal understandings and customary practices anchored in traditions of the ancien regime. Enslaved people who managed to purchase their freedom or, more rarely, obtained manumission through other means, became members of highly stratified societies. Black freedom did not imply social equality and republican rights.

By contrast, in Virginia during the Age of Revolution, the expansion of manumission, and the increase in freedom lawsuits, were tied to questions of citizenship, and of black participation in the new political order under conditions of equality. Enslaved and free people of color alike infused these questions with a sense of urgency, as they made use of every available legal loophole to purchase or make claims for their own freedom. Their actions produced dramatic results: by the early 19th century, the proportion of free people of color in Virginia had increased significantly.

Virginia’s white citizens witnessed these trends with horror and petitioned to outlaw manumissions. It was, literally, a reactionary request: to restore the colonial law of freedom. The 1806 law requiring freed slaves to leave the state fell short of that goal, but marked the first step towards a social order in which blacks could only exist as slaves.

After Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831, whites’ political will to exclude free blacks intensified. Slaveholding states in the U.S. South responded to threats of rebellion, and to Northern abolitionists’ demands for immediate emancipation, with a defense of slavery as a positive good: the best possible condition for debased “Negroes.” To galvanize the support of non-slaveholding whites, Southerners cemented white solidarity by defining citizenship and voting rights along racial lines.

This movement created a paradox: egalitarian democracy would go hand-in-hand with the expansion of racist practices and ideologies. As slaveholders appealed to non-slaveholders with the promise of broad citizenship rights for all white men, free people of color became increasingly anomalous, and even dangerous to the polity. That is why colonization efforts that sought to remove free blacks to a distant location in Africa prospered in 19th-century Virginia and Louisiana (which changed hands to the United States in 1803), but not in Cuba.

That is also why Virginia and Louisiana acted in the 19th century, especially in the 1850s, to end the possibility of manumission, self-purchase, or freedom suits. By 1860, free people of color in Virginia and Louisiana were increasingly forced to leave the state upon emancipation or to live under threat of prosecution. A few even chose “voluntary” re-enslavement in order to remain with their families.

Free people of color continued to claim freedom in court, and fought tenaciously for the basic rights to a homeland, to remain close to friends and kin, and to live in their communities of origin. Yet they saw their militia and schools shut down, and their churches survived only under white leadership. Increasingly contested battles in court over racial identity attested to the growing anxiety over black citizenship and the need to prove whiteness in order to claim basic rights.

By 1860, Cuba had diverged significantly from Louisiana and Virginia—not in its legal regime of slavery, but rather in its regime of race. Enslaved people in Cuba took advantage of legal reforms that were not intended for their benefit to carve out greater freedoms for themselves. But in Virginia and Louisiana, where the status of communities of color was reduced to something closer to slavery. Race rather than enslavement became the true “impassable barrier,” in the words of Justice Roger B. Taney. In Cuba, where free people of color could be rights-bearing subjects, enslavement was the dividing line.

Laws regulating free people of color also served as a template for post-emancipation societies seeking ways to keep black people in their place. Slavery laws did not translate forward in the same way that regulations based on race did. When Southerners sought to restore the antebellum order after the Civil War, they could not re-impose slavery, but they passed Black Codes whose language echoed the laws regarding free people of color almost exactly. Under the Black Codes, freedmen could enter into contracts, own property, and appear in court on their own behalf. But in myriad other ways, their lives were constricted, just as they would have been if emancipated before 1861.

In the U.S., laws limiting the immigration of free people of color from one state into the other were the first immigration restrictions. These statutes echo into the 20th century—and to the present day—in limitations on the right to immigrate into the U.S. based on racial and national identity. In Cuba, on the other hand, legal racial barriers came under increasing attack even before final emancipation in 1886. In the 1880s, limitations on interracial marriages were eliminated and racial segregation in public services and education was outlawed. These changes were an imperial imperative. As the colonial state of Spain sought to retain control over its restive colony of Cuba, it had to cultivate the political support of the free black population. By 1898, the island’s short-lived political regime of “autonomy” recognized black males as voting subjects with equal rights.

The transition from black slavery to black citizenship was neither linear nor preordained. It was as contentious and ferociously contested a process in Cuba as it was in Virginia and Louisiana. But the new struggles for standing and citizenship took place against the backdrop of significantly different legal regimes of race. From being enslaved to being a citizen, the connecting tissue before and after emancipation for black people was not “from slave to citizen,” but from black to black.

Source: The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity

The crisis of anti-Black racism in schools persists across generations

One of the elements that I find most interesting is the extent of anti-Black racism in Peel, a very diverse area with many visible minorities and where about 60 percent have a mother tongue other than English. Not just a white-black issue:

Recent reports of the schooling experiences of Black students in elementary, middle and high school in Toronto tell a story of negligence and disregard. This disregard includes a lack of access to appropriate reading materials and supportive relationships with teachers and administrators.

In conversations about their school life, Black students talk about adverse treatment by their teachers and peers, including regular use of the “n-word.”

These issues contribute to alienating and problematic school days for Black students. And none of this is new: racism in Toronto and Ontario schools has been ongoing for decades.

Twenty years ago, former politician Stephen Lewis was appointed to advise the province of Ontario on race relations. The appointment came after a “stop anti-Black police violence” march turned into an uprising in Toronto. Lewis spent a month consulting with people and community groups in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and London and then presented a report on race relations.

He wrote:

The students [I spoke with] were fiercely articulate and often deeply moving…. They don’t understand why the schools are so slow to reflect the broader society. One bright young man in a Metro east high school said that he had reached [the end of high school] without once having a book by a Black author [assigned to him]. And when other students, in the large meeting of which he was a part, started to name books they had been given to read, the titles were Black Like Me and To Kill and Mockingbird (both, incredibly enough, by white writers!). It’s absurd in a world which has a positive cornucopia of magnificent literature by Black authors. I further recall an animated young woman from a high school in Peel, who described her school as multiracial, and then added that she and her fellow students had white teachers, white counsellors, a white principal and were taught Black history by a white teacher who didn’t like them…

More than two decades later, reports continue to show that school boards do not meet the educational needs and interests of Black students and parents.

Two years ago, I led a study to examine the schooling experiences and educational outcomes of Black students. We surveyed 324 parents, educators, school administrators and trustees. We talked to Black high school and university students in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who participated in the five community consultations we held in four school districts.

Participants echoed what students said 20 years ago in the Lewis report. Black students say they are “being treated differently than their non-Black peers in the classrooms and hallways of their schools.” They say there is still a lack of Black presence in schools. There are few Black teachers, the curriculum does not adequately address Black history and schools lack an equitable process to help students deal with anti-Black racism.

Students spoke about their teachers’ and administrators’ lack of attention to their concerns, interests and needs. They told of differential or “unfair” treatment, and they noted their teachers’ unwillingness to address complaints of racism.

Participants said they perceived a more punitive discipline of Black students. They also said they observed the “streaming of Black students into courses below their ability level.” They said Black students were discouraged from attending university.

Last year, I conducted another study with Black elementary, middle and high-school students in the Peel District School Board (PDSB), a multiracial district in Ontario. This study produced the same list of concerns.

Not belonging

Students reported being called the “n-word,” as they put it, by “people who are not Black.” This use of racial epithets adds to an already alienating educational climate for many Black students.

One middle school student said: “People are getting too comfortable with saying that n-word.”

A high school student shared his reaction to being called the n-word:

“I recall one time where I almost slapped this guy [for using the n-word]; but I was like: ‘Nah! I’m not going to let this happen or let him disturb me like that.”

Like Black students before them, their experiences contributed to their “sense of un-belonging” and a schooling environment that made learning problematic, tough and challenging.

Beyond Toronto, Black students and their parents are similarly complaining about the use of the n-word across Canadian public schools: Several news reports tell of parents in school boards in York, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax.

One Montréal mother told CTV news that in an argument with his classmate, her son was called “the n-word” by a white student. The mother went on to say: “I’m at war with the systemic racism that occurs at the school.”

CBC Kids News published a story about two Black Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia who gave presentations to their peers across the province about being called the n-word. One of the presenters, Kelvin, said the word is commonly used to “hurt” and put him down.“ He said the word and its implications had not been taught by teachers in any of his classes.

Some parents and educators have connected this ongoing racism to a health and safety epidemic for Black students in Ontario schools.

That the “n-word” brings health and safety implications as well as deep consternation to Black students should be a concern that teachers take up. Teachers need to examine course materials for their content and impact on students’ learning.

Could a good reading list help?

Based on my research, I recommended the Peel District School Board evaluate their curriculum and assess the usefulness of old texts. Some of these texts repeatedly use the the racial epithet, “ni–er.” As an example, I said the 1960 American novel To Kill A Mockingbird could be re-examined as a core book taught in classrooms.

These are texts that Canadian students might find difficult to relate to their lives. These texts become especially problematic when it is the only time that the lives of Black people are mentioned in class.

All teaching material must be continuously re-assessed in relation to historical, political and social contexts. Materials must also be evaluated for their ability to pertain to the realities of Black students in today’s classrooms.

The experiences of all students must be centred and the knowledge, needs and aspirations they bring into the classroom considered.

This is the same recommendation Stephen Lewis made in 1992.

Responsive learning spaces

As Poleen Grewal, associate director of the Peel District School Board pointed out, it is not just about the texts taught. Teachers who use uncritical texts as a way into discussions about racism are unlikely to benefit Black students already aware of racism. Grewal said teaching must be accompanied by the ability to create “culturally responsive learning spaces.”

Educators need to be aware of how structures of inequities like racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia operate in educational institutions to obfuscate student interest in learning.

Recently, a number of school Boards have initiated programs that they claim address anti-Black racism, including anti-racism workshops for teachers. Will these measures help to change the inequitable and racist contexts of Canadian schools and the racism students experience?

Other places have been pro-active with curriculum. In Nova Scotia, To Kill A Mockingbird was removed from the curriculum in 1996, and replaced with the 1998 novel A Lesson Before Dying by African-American writer Ernest J. Gaines.

School boards need to value and draw upon the cultural and intellectual capital of Black students. To do so, they need to encourage the university aspirations of Black students, address racism experienced by students, and use educational materials that enable a relevant and responsive learning environment.

Source: The crisis of anti-Black racism in schools persists across generations

Black male educators sound diversity alarm | New Orleans’ Multicultural News Source

Some interesting research. If I recall correctly, there is overall under-representation of males in education, particularly at the primary level:

A diverse and inclusive education workforce can play a critical role in ensuring that students receive a robust, quality educational experience. While students of color comprise more than half of P-12 classroom populations in the United States, overcoming the shortage of educators of color has been a decades-long dilemma for U.S. schools.

The shortage is especially alarming among Black male educators, who represent less than two percent of the total teaching population. Their recruitment continues to be a critical topic in educational reform, but studies on the factors contributing to the shortage remain scarce. As a result, there has been little improvement in attracting and retaining Black male educators.

To uncover factors affecting the shortage of Black male teachers, researchers from University of Phoenix Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (UOPX) – in partnership with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) – examined the current status of Black male educators in the nation’s classrooms.

The exploration highlighted insights of fellows of the 2018 cohort of NNSTOY Outstanding Black Male Educators. Their reflective quotes and personal narratives were published in a joint white paper titled “Having Our Say: Examining Career Trajectories of Black Male Educators in P-12 Education.”

Three areas of focus were spotlighted as potential solutions to the shortage: improved recruitment efforts, greater representation in teacher preparation programs and enriched experiences in school settings.

“With limited insight into the factors affecting Black male educators in P-12 education, the voices of the NNSTOY fellows served as the ‘coal miner’s canary’ – calling attention to the challenges experienced within the career trajectory of many Black male educators at every phase,” said Dr. Kimberly Underwood, University of Phoenix research chair and lead author of the paper.

“While this paper will help identify potential solutions, we must continue to champion efforts to create sustainable actions to diversify the teaching profession and improve recruitment and retention efforts.”

As highlighted in the paper, various studies suggest that the lack of Black male educators has negative implications for all students, both culturally and academically.

In their absence, students lose access to valuable insights and perspectives that can dramatically decrease bias and prejudice. Additionally, direct results can be seen among the benefits to students of color, which include lower dropout rates, a more positive view of schooling, fewer disciplinary issues and better test scores.

To develop a strategic approach to the issue, the UOPX and NNSTOY team will build off the voices of the fellows and conduct research to examine socialization experiences of Black male educators, including the root cause of the attrition.

Source: Black male educators sound diversity alarm | New Orleans’ Multicultural News Source

Christie Blatchford: Police and blacks in Toronto: The numbers tell a hard truth

Lot of coverage on the just released report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission but picked Blatchford given her generally more sympathetic coverage of police issues, with her column all the more devastating as a result:

There is nothing like solid data — naked, objective, hard data — even for someone like me, who struggles mightily with numbers.

Numbers are what’s at the core of an Ontario Human Rights Commission report released Monday. I don’t know that it’s the first time the commission has backed up the anecdotal with hard data, but it’s the most astonishing such marriage I can remember.

The report includes analysis of data collected from the Special Investigations Unit, the arms-length agency that probes all serious incidents where police forces in Ontario inflict serious injuries upon civilians.

For the first time, it also includes a review of the SIU director’s reports, a rich trove of heretofore unreleased detail — including descriptions of the circumstances of each incident, assessments of the civilians involved and the justification behind the SIU director’s decision to charge or not charge police.

Using that information, plus SIU investigator notes, case photographs, police documents such as officer notes and even media reports (solely when race couldn’t be otherwise determined) the analyst — University of Toronto associate criminology professor Dr. Scot Wortley — examined 244 completed SIU investigations of civilian/Toronto Police Service encounters in the four years from 2013-2017.

In those years, black people made up about 8.8 per cent of the population in Toronto. Yet, shockingly, they also made up 70 per cent of police shootings that resulted in death, 61 per cent of other sorts of lethal force encounters, almost 29 per cent of all Toronto police use of force cases and fully one quarter of all SIU TPS investigations.

As Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane said, “This inquiry is different from past initiatives. We will examine racial disparities in how police services are provided in Toronto and will marry hard data with lived experience and case law.”

The report is called A Collective Impact, the commission’s interim report on its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of black Torontonians by police.

Even its aim is different. “The goal of the inquiry is to build trust in law enforcement and make our communities safer,” Mandhane said. That’s exactly what such an inquiry should hope to do, but not all its predecessors have been so clear.

Now, to put this in perspective, it’s important to remember that Toronto police have about 30,000 encounters a year with those it calls “in crisis,” meaning people who are emotionally or mentally disturbed. About 97 or 98 per cent of these end without the use of any sort of force. And encounters with people in crisis account for a significant chunk of those who end up in use of force clashes — almost 30 per cent.

Another troubling note: In a “significant minority” of SIU cases, the SIU director had problems with Toronto Police co-operation, though, a small mercy, such problems were no worse in cases involving black citizens.

One of these issues was delayed or improper notification to the SIU; police are supposed to notify the unit immediately whenever a civilian has been seriously injured or died. Sometimes, police notes indicate there was early awareness someone had been badly hurt, but the SIU was still not called right away.

Sometimes, the SIU director questioned the legal basis for police to have stopped or detained the black person in the first place, or for conducting searches.

And black men were significantly over-represented in SIU investigations of sexual assault complaints — six times more likely than their numbers in the population would suggest.

The data lend heft to the “lived experiences” people have been hearing about for decades and which the commission heard about in focus groups — black Torontonians being stopped because they “matched the description” of a suspect, including a young black man who was running to school, excited about a special event, and was stopped in full view of his classmates, and a black man who earlier this year who was leaving his office and searched in front of his workmates and onlookers both.

“I was feeling embarrassed,” the youth told the commission. “This is not who I am. This is not who I want to be. After that, people were looking at me different, like I was a criminal or some type of thug.”

It’s funny, but not so long ago, I was in a room full of accomplished black citizens; this was the judicial discipline hearing into the conduct of Ontario Court Judge Donald McLeod, one of a few black faces on the bench. Many of them were upset that the hearing had even been called. McLeod is a distinguished man who made it to the bench from a hard background (single mom, subsidized housing) and who in his efforts to pay it forward by founding a non-profit national black organization allegedly crossed a line judges should not cross.

McLeod had been moved to act by the shooting of a pregnant young woman, which hit close to home; he’d gone to school with the young woman’s aunt.

There was a real sense of affront in the room, that somehow, even this good and honourable man who rose so high should have been brought down like this.

It’s not quite the same thing, rather a real sense of injury and injustice, when black people end up, in such out of whack numbers, dead or hurt after encounters with police. We leave it alone to fester at our peril.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Police and blacks in Toronto: The numbers tell a hard truth