Groups demand Ottawa take action over CSIS discrimination claims

Of note (CSIS has relatively stronger visible minority representation than most security agencies and issues annual reports as required by the Employment Equity Act as seen in the above chart):

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and two civil liberty organizations say they are “deeply troubled” by recent allegations of religious and racial discrimination within CSIS, and are demanding the federal government take “urgent, proactive and genuine” action to protect the rights of visible minority spies in the workplace.

“Public confidence in the agency demands public accountability,” says a letter that was hand-delivered to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair in Ottawa earlier this week. “A categorical culture shift inside CSIS must be demonstrated before the public’s trust can be regained.”

The letter is in response to CBC News stories last week about a lawsuit from a longtime analyst in Canada’s intelligence service who alleges his Muslim faith marked him as a target for harassment, emotional abuse and even physical assaults.

His statement of claim, filed under an identity-masking pseudonym in Federal Court earlier this month, outlines what it says was a pattern of bullying and prejudice stretching back almost two decades that saw the man treated as a “second-class citizen” by co-workers and management.

Among its most disturbing details is an allegation that the agent was humiliated and assaulted while he prayed in his office by colleagues who would utter profanities and throw open his office door, hitting him in the head or body, as he kneeled on the carpet.

“I don’t think there is anybody in terms of the class of employees lower than the practising Muslim at the service,” the analyst told CBC in an exclusive interview.

Letter questions CSIS’s ‘organizational culture’

The letter to the public safety minister, also signed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, references past lawsuits by minority CSIS employees that were eventually settled out of court. It also questions the spy agency’s repeated claims that it has zero tolerance for discrimination in its workplace.

“The fact that Muslim and other minority CSIS employees have resorted to suing the agency in order to come forward and be heard raises many questions about the agency’s organizational culture, and its commitment to resolving its issue beyond making vague public statements,” the letter reads.

It also expresses concern that the agency’s culture of “total secrecy” might be inhibiting other affected employees from bringing misconduct complaints forward, or enabling managers to punish those who dare to voice objections about mistreatment.

“Retaliation by such agencies against truth-tellers is easy and devastatingly effective,” it warns.

A longtime employee is suing Canada’s spy agency for racial and religious discrimination. In this exclusive interview, the man — who can’t be identified by law — tells CBC News how his co-workers allegedly reacted when he would pray in his office. 1:37

As such, the three groups are asking Ottawa to extend federal whistleblower protections to CSIS employees, or give intelligence oversight bodies the explicit power to look into workplace complaints.

“We’re not advocating that these agents or employees reveal any sort of state secrets that would put security at risk,” said Sameha Omer, director of legal affairs for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “What we’re advocating for is that agents be able to be protected under whistleblower legislation. For them to be able to come forward internally, to be able to make that complaint, they need to know that even if they do come forward, they’re not going to face any sort of reprisal.”

Looking for more disclosure

The NCCM and the other signatories would also like more disclosure about the spy agency’s efforts to recruit and promote minorities within its ranks, suggesting that the government mandate “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” audits at least once every five years and share the results with the public.

A 2014 equity audit, released under Access to Information legislation, showed that 14.4 per cent of the spy agency’s 3,000 employees were visible minorities, while 3.6 per cent had disabilities and two per cent were Indigenous. At the time, none of CSIS’s senior managers were minority or Indigenous, and only 17 per cent were female.

Tim McSorley, the national co-ordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group — a coalition of 45 NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups and environmental organizations — said the allegations of discrimination within CSIS raise questions about the agency’s external mindset, too.

“It really resonates around those issues of how CSIS approaches the Muslim community at large, if this is what happens to people within their own workplace,” McSorley said. “If this is how they treat a colleague and how they react to somebody’s background and religion in the workplace, particularly someone of the Muslim faith, then what does that signal to the communities that they are meant to be protecting?”

McSorley said his group is hopeful that the Liberal government will take meaningful action to make the intelligence service more accountable to both Parliament and the public.

“[The government] has talked a lot about bringing more transparency,” he said. “I think this provides another real opportunity to them to make good on that.”

Blair’s office declined an interview request, but a statement provided to the CBC says that he is concerned about all allegations of harassment and discrimination.

“We are committed to ensuring that our security agencies are worthy of the trust of Canadians and we are committed to strengthening accountability. Across all agencies and departments, our government will strive to ensure that all employees are treated with fairness, respect and dignity, and we will work tirelessly to foster a workplace that is safe for all,” it reads.

But Omer said that platitudes about diversity and inclusion won’t suffice this time, and that the National Council of Canadian Muslims needs to know what steps CSIS has already taken to confront discrimination in the workplace — and what more they will do in the face of the new allegations.

“Our organization, our community itself, they want answers,” she said. “We do want to know what happened.”

Source: Groups demand Ottawa take action over CSIS discrimination claims

Searching for Fred Christie, the Jamaican immigrant who tried to end legalized racism in Canada

Part of our history:

Fred Christie was no stranger to the York Tavern, a popular watering hole in the old Montreal Forum.

As a season ticket holder, Christie often dropped by the tavern during hockey season.

But this was the summer of 1936, boxing season, and unbeknown to Christie, the rules at the York were different in boxing season.

He walked in with two friends one Saturday night. The tavern was crowded. Christie slapped 50 cents on the table and asked for three beers.

The waiter said no. He explained that he’d been told not to serve black people. Christie went to the bar. The bartender told him the same thing. So did the manager.

So Christie, a private chauffeur, went to court. Eighty years ago this week, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its ruling.

In a 4-1 decision, the court recognized that staff at the York Tavern had refused to serve Christie “for the sole reason that they had been instructed not to serve coloured persons.”

However, the court concluded, merchants are free to serve who they please, and in turning Christie away, the York “was strictly within its rights.”

And with that, the highest court in the country enshrined racial discrimination in law.

It wasn’t until Quebec passed its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1975 that Christie vs. York ceased to have effect in the province — and seven years later in the rest of Canada when the federal charter was passed.

Black community rallies

The case has not surfaced in news coverage much since then.

As for Christie, he moved to Vermont not long after the decision and little is known about his life in the U.S.

But a prominent civil rights group in Montreal is using the anniversary of the 1939 Supreme Court decision to seek more recognition for Christie and the legal fight he mounted with the help of Montreal’s black community.

“It’s of major historical importance to the laws of this country and the fight for racial equality — as important as the battle of Viola Desmond in Nova Scotia,” said Fo Niemi, who heads the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

Niemi is hoping to persuade the federal government to issue a stamp in Christie’s honour or have him declared a person of national historical significance.

In the meantime, local historians are talking to parishioners at Union United Church, Montreal’s oldest black congregation, to gather more details about Christie.

It’s known he arrived in Montreal from his native Jamaica in 1919, settling in Verdun. According to one scholar, that neighbourhood might have appealed to Christie because it was not far from the Forum arena , and he was an avid sports fan.

Legalized racism differed from the U.S.

When Christie decided to take the York Tavern to court, Montreal’s black community rallied behind him. A young doctor, Kenneth Melville, chaired a committee that raised money to cover his legal costs.

Melville, also a Jamaican immigrant, was the first black medical student at McGill University and went on to chair the university’s pharmacology and therapeutics department.

The committee raised enough money by collecting nickels and dimes at barbershops, newsstands and churches.

“The black community was quite concerned about trying to acquire rights at a time when human rights legislation didn’t exist,” said Dorothy Williams, a historian who teaches black Montreal history at Concordia University.

“They were trying to set up an environment where they would have the same liberties and privileges that their white neighbours had.”

Legalized racism operated differently in Canada than in the United States, where a whole regime of segregation was spelled out in the so-called Jim Crow laws.

“Much of the legalized racism in Canada was enabled through private means,” said University of Alberta law Prof. Eric Adams, who has researched the Christie vs. York decision.

By invoking legal principles such as freedom of commerce, Canadian courts chose not to intervene in areas of social life where racial discrimination was occurring.

“The freedom and rights that mattered to the Supreme Court of Canada were the freedoms to conduct yourself in a racist manner,” Adams said.

In the absence of legal principles ensuring equality, which institutions chose to turn away black people at which time fluctuated in a seemingly arbitrary manner.

This helps explain why Christie would have been served at the York Tavern during hockey season but not during boxing season.

“We didn’t have written laws of segregation,” said Williams. “In Montreal, certain customs and mores were in place that made it very clear that certain people were not welcome in certain establishments.”

Law as a double-edged sword

The decision, which only runs 15 pages, was delivered just days after the start of the Second World War.

Writing for the majority, Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret claimed the York’s rule of not serving black people did not violate “good morals or public order.”

Adelle Blackett, a professor of labour law at McGill University, recalled how reading the decision as a first-year law student left her unsettled.

Blackett, who teaches the case regularly, read the decision again on Monday, 80 years to the day after it was delivered.

“I still found it painful, frankly, to read,” she said.

Even the dissent is “not exactly a strong articulation of the importance of human rights,” said Blackett, a former commissioner of Quebec’s Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

The lone dissenting judge, Henry Davis, argued the freedom of commerce principle shouldn’t apply because the York was benefiting from the provincial government’s control of the sale of liquor.

“It’s not rights language,” said Blackett. “It’s not: Mr. Christie, by virtue of being a human being deserving of dignity, has the right to be served and not discriminated against.”

“That’s the kind of specific language that comes through a charter of rights.”

The decision helps illustrate the ways in which human rights codes, which began to emerge after the Second World War, contributed to how Canadians interact with each other.

But for legal scholars, Christie vs. York is also a reminder that the law can be a double-edged sword — a source of protection and of oppression.

And that hasn’t changed.

“There is no monopoly on wisdom in our legal order,” said Adams.

Source: Searching for Fred Christie, the Jamaican immigrant who tried to end legalized racism in Canada

The ‘Dark Side’ of Citizenship

Captures well some of the inherent discrimination of citizenship –who is in and who is not. Completely divorced from some of the practicalities and political realities undermining some of this discrimination but nevertheless an interesting and challenging interview:

Accounts of the glories and dignity of citizenship are everywhere, yet it is the arbitrariness, violence, and servility attending the concept that we must focus on when we interrogate it, argues Dimitry Kochenov, an expert on citizenship, nationality, and immigration law, in his book “Citizenship.”


1) One of the more popular politicians in our country often talks of “pull-effects” on immigration, claiming that allowing “too many” migrants or making the path to asylum or citizenship too easy increases the number of immigrants and refugees coming to our country. Is there any evidence for this? Additionally, and more controversially maybe: I hang with often radical people who are often very into open borders (or more precisely, claiming that borders shouldn’t exist). What’s your view on that?

Dimitry Kochenov: Having no borders is not really as radical as it might seem: We have this in the majority of modern democracies today (unlike the states in the past) — and even at the level of larger entities, offering free movement, which includes settlement and work rights to citizens of several countries at once. The EU or the GCC are great examples. Citizenship is thus not always about creating the borders — it can also be about, precisely, removing them. And on this count being an Icelander with dozens of countries welcoming you to stay is much better than holding a passport of Madagascar, opening zero doors for settlement and work outside of the country. Given that no borders works for the Icelanders and it is perfectly fine, to claim that it is outrageous and radical for the citizens of Madagascar seems somewhat unfair.

And concerning “too many” and “too few” immigrants, the world is too diverse to make easy generalizations — the “immigrant,” just like a “citizen,” is the creature of the law: if naturalizing is easy, immigrants are never in the majority. If naturalizing is virtually impossible, like in the Gulf, then everyone is suddenly an immigrant. This is exactly the totalitarian nature of citizenship at play: The persons themselves have zero say in the matter, while public authorities claim people right from the moment of birth (or later) and these claims cannot usually be refused.

2) Would you be able to summarize your suggested improvements or replacements for citizenship? Example: One of the advantages of citizenship is the fact that you can get a passport, which is a way for your home country to vouch for you. Absent citizenship, what mechanism would you propose to control travel across borders?

D.K.: This is a wonderful question, which takes the current shape of the world for granted: Borders are taken for granted, passports are taken for granted, just as the hostility to someone, who is not “from here.” This world, the world of nation-states, is quite new and will obviously not last forever. One of my main problems with citizenship, as I try to explain in the book, is that the idea of citizenship goes radically against all the core ideals our current notion of freedom, liberty and deserving are building upon. That this is the case had great reasons in the past. Citizenship as an absolute abstraction from the individual features of the bearer had to emerge when the core struggle was the struggle against caste systems in society: The vote of a baron had to count the same way as the vote of a peasant. The contemporary world, however, is radically different. The legal fiction — the absolute abstraction — which is citizenship has a difficult time when discrepancies between different citizenships in terms of the rights one can enjoy on the basis of these statuses are huge, while the status of citizenship as such is distributed purely at random. Consequently, from an instrument to guarantee and promote equality, citizenship emerged as the key tool of suppressing the idea of giving reasons to underpin the distribution of the most important rights. The question of “how can the world be without citizenship?” is thus a question, in essence, about how to stop distributing privilege at random, while using randomized distribution in order to impose glass ceilings and be legally allowed as well as morally safe to say “she is not a citizen, she has no rights, reasons do not matter.”

To come to the bottom of the question, the Schengen zone offers an excellent example of “mechanisms to travel across borders” — the borders are sometimes marked and crossed by speed train lines and wonderful highways.

From an instrument to guarantee and promote equality, citizenship emerged as the key tool of suppressing the idea of giving reasons to underpin the distribution of the most important rights.

3) Do you think the non-EU part of Eastern Europe will ever have a visa-free regime with the EU (I mean Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc.) in the same terms as there is within the EU right now?

D.K.: Borders, suspicions, and hatreds are policy choices. It is important to realize, however, that borders exist at different levels: These can be the boundaries for simple travel for a short-term stay (on this count Ukraine is already part, together with Moldova and Georgia of the larger European space); boundaries for settlement and work (on this count Ukraine is out, but Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway still are in); and the boundaries of citizenship, when the nationals of some countries would be excluded from the beginning. Take a national of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or South Ossetia, for instance. Such people are legally claimed by the entities too questionable to be palatable for the majority of the European nations, so they cannot even naturalize in the EU, should they meet all the conditions of the country of residence, with such documents.

To move closer to your question: Russia is currently the most atypical country in the world from the point of view of tourist and business visa policy, since it lets all the nationals of the poorer and less developed nations in visa-free, locking its doors behind a visa wall for Europeans and Americans. All the other countries are the exact opposite, offering visa-free travel to the citizens of richer and higher-developed nations. Picking friends is a matter of taste though, even if taste is peculiar. In the long term it would be illogical to keep the European continent cut by visa walls. The world, however, is frequently illogical.

4) What’s your take on abusive spouses that don’t let you leave, that is, states that make it extraordinarily difficult for people to renounce their citizenship?

D.K.: Not all the states refusing their citizens the right to renounce could correctly be compared to abusive spouses, it seems to me. The inability to renounce can definitely be an asset, a weapon against a different kind of abuse, when states of naturalization require the renunciation of previously held citizenships, thereby legally mandating a sacrifice of rights, which is difficult to justify. Both the inability to renounce and the obligation to renounce thus can be problematic. The core of the matter, of course, is whether the citizen herself can decide.

In the contemporary understanding of freedom and liberty, we expect to be able to make this kind of decision as we see fit. Yet, citizenship logic is quite different from the logic of liberty and freedom — since citizenship is a legal status attributed in the absolute majority of cases immediately following someone’s birth without any consent or ability to disagree with this attribution. A foreigner born to tourists passing through the U.S. is an American, however “incidental,” grandson of a Greek whose father has never visited Greece is of course Greek (and unable to renounce). The totalitarian logic of citizenship thus constantly clashes with our idea of freedom — and this is a constantly recurrent story, ultimately undermining citizenship’s justifications and annihilating its moral appeal.

5) Given that citizenship and ethnicity are often connected in the context of European nation-states, just look at Eastern Europe, should we be giving out citizenships to immigrants after a number of years compared to just some type of “long term residency”? What would be the advantages (if any) and disadvantages of that and how do you think the far right would react to such a move? Would such a move even matter in the EU?

D.K.: Citizenship and ethnicity is a difficult connection, since it breeds intolerance. In terms of equal human worth ethnicity is an irrelevant feature. Citizenship, as a status of legal recognition of full belonging to an authority cannot be made dependent on the color of someone’s eyes, or pigmentation of the skin. Nor only Eastern Europe, also many other countries and places not infrequently come with racist undertones in their citizenship policy. After all, citizenship has traditionally been a truly racist concept, since the Western empires dominating the world would not guarantee non-discrimination on this ground, often explicitly enforcing “whites only” policy. Their former colonies learned the lesson well — in Liberia one still needs to be a “Negro,” if I am not mistaken, to enjoy the status of citizenship. The official explanation, from the extreme right in Poland to the racist Liberian constitution, is always the same: social cohesion, culture and the like. Human culture is much richer, however, then policing the dispensation of liabilities based on the pigmentation of someone’s skin, and the developments of the second half of the 20th century allow us to trace a huge evolution on this count. The U.S., France, the Netherlands — formerly deeply racist countries as far as their citizenship policy was concerned, now play a totally different tune.

There is another side of this coin, which is not necessarily positive: Racist citizenship policy — that a Chinese or an Indian could not naturalize in the U.S.; that a woman marrying a colonial “native” in the Netherlands would lose her birthright Dutch citizenship, etc. gave way, with decolonization, to an essentially racist gradation of citizenship rights and liabilities around the world. Now that the former colonial subjects who used to have second-rate statuses in the Empires enjoy their own states, the citizenships those states distribute are often — in the majority of cases — steeply inferior in terms of the rights they bring to the citizenships of the former colonial masters. In other words, although individual citizenship outside of some African states are, by law, not any more racist, the world of rights and liabilities related to the different citizenship statuses in the world remains quite a racist place.

Source: The ‘Dark Side’ of Citizenship

Quebec’s Bill 21 should also stir anti-racist outrage among party leaders

Good column by Jack Jedwab:

Somewhat unexpectedly, the issues of discrimination and racism have moved to the forefront in the federal election. At the start of the campaign, answering a journalist’s question about Quebec’s secularism Bill 21, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau left open the possibility of some eventual legal intervention on the legislation. Predictably, there was an almost immediate response from Quebec Premier François Legault, asking all federal leaders to make a pledge to stay out of the matter. With the exception of Trudeau, the other federal party leaders quickly complied. Bill 21 prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by Quebec public school teachers, judges, police officers, prison guards, Crown prosecutors and other public servants in positions of authority, as a way of enshrining the concept of state secularism.

And then, just as the campaign’s attention on Bill 21 waned, some very distasteful photos of a younger Trudeau in brownface and in blackface hit the national and international media. Trudeau apologized many times for his past behaviour and correctly acknowledged that it was highly offensive.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer insisted that the blackface pointed to Trudeau’s lack of judgment and as such raised questions about his ability to govern. During a September 20 campaign stop in PEI, Scheer said all levels of government need to address the types of issues raised by such conduct. He said that “Conservatives will always support measures that tackle discrimination…We’ll always promote policies that promote inclusiveness and equality throughout our society.” Ironically, that’s precisely what needs to be said in addressing Bill 21.

For his part, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made an impassioned plea to all Canadians who were offended by the images of Trudeau in blackface. He chose to speak to those people who have felt the pain of racism and urged them not to give up on themselves, adding that they have value and worth and that they are loved. But that message does not appear to apply to those persons affected by Bill 21. Singh seems unwilling to defend those Quebecers who wear a turban, hijab or kippah and want to teach at a public school in their home province. Paradoxically, while Singh can become prime minister of Canada, he would be unable to teach at a public school in Quebec under Bill 21. By insisting on the need to respect provincial jurisdiction, Singh implies that members of religious minorities need to give up their hope of seeking a career in public service.

Both Scheer’s and Singh’s criticisms of Trudeau and the related concerns about the spread of racism would be more credible if they denounced the discriminatory aspects of Bill 21 rather than bowing to the Quebec Premier’s demands and looking the other way on what Legault insists is a strictly provincial matter.

Perhaps, like many observers, the federal party leaders don’t see any connection between blackface and a state prohibition against educators wearing hijabs, turbans and kippahs in public institutions. Yet the case can surely be made that both arise from subconscious or overt feelings and/or expressions of prejudice that are, regrettably, deemed acceptable by far too many people. The difference is that Trudeau’s use of blackface occurred two decades ago, while the legislation banning religious symbols is the object of current debate.

In the aftermath of the Trudeau blackface incidents, there have been calls for a national conversation about racism. But the tone of this election campaign does not allow for a thoughtful discussion about the ongoing challenge of eliminating racism and discrimination. Ideally, all federal party leaders should work together to combat racism and discrimination, whether it appears in Quebec or anywhere else in the country.

Source: Quebec’s Bill 21 should also stir anti-racist outrage among party leaders

Uncovering the roots of discrimination toward immigrants

Interesting study and approach:

All over the world, immigration has become a source of social and political conflict. But what are the roots of antipathy toward immigrants, and how might conflict between immigrant and native populations be dampened?

His newest research on identity politics, an experimental approach that explores the causes of discrimination against Muslim immigrants in Germany, was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Opposition toward immigration can be due to economic reasons because of competition for jobs or due to the perceived cultural threat that immigrants pose to their host country by challenging dominant norms and changing the national identity,” he says.

He finds arguments centered on cultural threat more convincing than economic explanations of opposition to immigration, especially in Europe.

“Most previous research is limited to presenting survey-based attitudinal measures of antipathy toward immigrants or refugees and correlating them with socio-economic characteristics of the survey respondents or their political beliefs,” Sambanis says. “We wanted to go beyond that and measure actual behavior in the field. We wanted to figure out what particular aspects of refugees or immigrants generate more hostility. Is it racial differences? Ethnic differences? Is it linguistic or religious differences? Is there merit to the idea that discrimination toward immigrants is due to the perception that they do not follow the rules and threaten dominant ?”

There’s very little experimental research, Sambanis says, on the causes of anti- bias and even less research on how to reduce it.

Working with University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Donghyun Danny Choi, a former PIC Lab postdoc, and Mathias Poertner, a PIC Lab fellow and postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, Sambanis designed the experimental study. They targeted Germany because of the high influx of immigrants and refugees and the political salience of immigration issues in recent elections there and because Germans are strongly inclined toward conforming with social norms, especially around keeping order.

Their hypothesis: If it is true that opposition to immigration is driven by the perception that immigrants threaten valued social norms and pose a cultural threat, then in a country that values norm adherence they would see a reduction in discrimination toward immigrants if immigrants show that they respect local social norms and care about their new society.

They staged an intervention against a native male German who littered in a public space, since not littering is a social norm there. A female researcher would approach the person littering, asking him to pick up his trash and dispose of it properly. Bystanders, unaware that they were being studied, observed the interaction. Shortly thereafter, the woman would take a call and while speaking on the phone would drop a bag of groceries, causing oranges to spill out on the floor. The observing researchers recorded whether the bystanders who had witnessed this entire interaction helped the woman pick up her oranges.

In some versions, the woman dropping the oranges would have sanctioned the norm violator, signaling her integration with the German culture. In others, she did not intervene so as to seem indifferent to the littering.

Researchers also used the woman’s identity as a variable: In some versions, she was a native German, in others a Muslim immigrant wearing a hijab. Her degree of religiosity, her ethnic background, and her linguistic assimilation to German society were all manipulated as part of the experiment.

This allowed the researchers to measure whether immigrants who are more socially distant than the average German receive less assistance and whether following social norms offsets any bias toward them.

They ran this experiment more than 1,600 times in train stations in 30 cities in both western and eastern Germany using multiple teams of research assistants, with more than 7,000 bystanders unwittingly participating. Then, the researchers measured whether women who wore a hijab received less assistance than native Germans, whether ethno-racial differences between immigrants matters less than religious differences in generating bias, whether immigrants who wore a cross received more help than those who did not wear any outward symbols of religiosity, and whether good citizenship—enforcing anti-littering norms—generated more help from bystanders, eliminating any bias against immigrants.

“We found that bias toward Muslims is too pronounced and is not overcome by good citizenship; immigrant women who wore a hijab always received less assistance relative to German women, even when they followed the rules,” Sambanis says.

“But we also found that good citizenship has some benefit, as the degree of discrimination toward Muslims goes down if they signal that they care about the host society. And ethnic or racial differences alone do not cause discrimination in our setup. Nor is religious assimilation—wearing a cross rather than a hijab—necessary to be treated with civility.”

On average, women wearing a hijab who did not enforce the norm got help in about 60% of cases, whereas “German” women who did scold the litterer got help in 84% of the cases. The rates of assistance offered to a Muslim who enforced social norms by scolding the litterer were equivalent to those for a German who did not enforce the norm.

“The reason to run such an experiment focusing on everyday interactions is that it gives you a sense of the accumulated impact of discrimination in shaping perceptions of identity and belonging,” Sambanis says. “Getting help to pick up something you drop on the floor seems like a small thing. But these small things—and small slights—add up to form lasting impressions of how others perceive you and, in turn, can inform the immigrants’ own attitudes and behavior toward the host society.”

Now, Sambanis, Choi, and Poertner are extending their research to new questions trying to understand the mechanisms underlying the effects they picked up with their experiments in Germany.

They found gender was a key factor, as it was German women who discriminated against Muslim women. Sambanis says he didn’t expect this result since existing research implies that men are more likely to discriminate, and certainly media portrayals of anti-immigrant backlash tend to center on men.

“We puzzled over the fact that German women withheld assistance from Muslim women who needed help. Based on survey data we collected after our experiment, it seemed that this effect was particularly due to secular women, women who do not register a religious preference,” he says. “This led us to hypothesize that part of the reason we observed this behavior is that German women who might otherwise be open to immigration have developed hostile attitudes toward Muslims because they perceive their cultural practices as threatening to hard-won advances in women’s rights. It’s basically a feminist opposition to political Islam.”

The team has now designed a new experiment that explicitly tests this hypothesis. Two new experiments test whether signaling one’s political ideology regarding key issues related to women’s rights can offset discrimination toward Muslim women.

This collaborative effort between Sambanis, Choi, and Poertner will become a book on how conflict between immigrants and native populations can be managed and whether norms can form the basis for the reduction in discrimination. The German experiments will be expanded next year and applied to a different social context in Greece, which also faces an intense political crisis due to unsustainably high levels of immigration and which differs from Germany with respect to the degree of public adherence to laws and rules.

Individuals there are less likely to follow rules and contribute less to the public good. So Sambanis and his co-authors think they may observe even lower effects of the ability of social norms to offset discrimination due to ethno-religious differences. That research will provide a useful comparison to better understand the existing experimental results.

“A key idea in socio-biological theories of inter-group conflict is that there is an almost innate antipathy or suspicion toward members of “out groups” [immigrant], however those groups are defined. But clearly societies can manage sources of tension and avoid conflict escalation since there is very little observed conflict relative to how many different types of inter-group differences exist out there,” Sambanis says. “A lot of the literature on immigration has suggested that assimilation is the key to reducing conflict between natives and immigrants: Immigrants must shed their names, change their religion, or hide their customs so they can be more accepted.

“Is this really necessary? Or is it enough for immigrants to just signal credibly that they care about being good citizens as much as everybody else?”

Understanding these types of questions is at the heart of the PIC Lab’s mission. A unifying theme of Sambanis’ work has been reducing inter-group conflict, particularly inter-ethnic conflict.

His interests were shaped by the wars in Bosnia and Rwanda, which were going on when he was in graduate school and pushed him away from international economics and toward studying peacekeeping. At the PIC Lab, researchers tackle questions both at the larger country level and at the smaller individual and group level, integrating ideas from political science, social psychology, and behavioral economics to understand human behavior and explore the outcomes of different policy interventions to reduce conflict. The lab conducts data-based, mostly quantitative research that can inform policy design but also theory-building in political science, Sambanis says.

“Ethnic differences, religious differences, —they all matter for politics, but they do not need to produce conflict,” he says. “When people are faced with the hard realities of ethnic wars, separatist conflicts, genocides, or hate crimes, they usually assume that these are inevitable outcomes of innate human prejudices or fears and that people just can’t get along because of deep differences in their preferences or their customs.

“A lot of the work that I do shows that ethnic conflict is not inevitable. The key is to understand the conditions that make salient and then find ways to defuse or manage conflict.”

Source: Uncovering the roots of discrimination toward immigrants

Canada Among Top Countries For Racist Hiring In 9-Country Survey

Larger-scale international comparison that shows the same pattern of bias and discrimination in hiring that Canadian studies have shown, but interesting that Canadian numbers worse than countries such as Germany (whose overall representation of minorities is poor).

Blind-cvs may be more effective that longer qualification lists:

Canadian visible minorities are more likely to face discrimination in hiring than their American counterparts, according to a new survey of nine countries that found Canada is near the top for prejudice in hiring.

But the researchers behind the study have a theory that one way to address the problem may be as simple as requiring employers to request more detailed information from applicants at the start of the process.

In a study published in Sociological Science this week, Northwestern University sociologist Lincoln Quillian and colleagues analyzed the results of 97 “field experiments” in hiring, in which fictional job applicants were created to track how they fared in the job interview process.

In all, the researchers looked at more than 200,000 job applications, and broke down the results by race, to see whether minority candidates with similar qualifications to white ones got as many call-backs.

To no one’s surprise, they didn’t. The data “shows nearly ubiquitous discrimination against racial and ethnic minority groups,” the researchers concluded in a paper published Monday ― but there are notable differences between results in the nine countries surveyed.

France and Sweden were found to have the highest likelihood of discrimination. A job applicant from a visible minority group in France is 43 per cent more likely to be discriminated against than a similar applicant in the United States. In Sweden, they are 30 per cent more likely to encounter prejudice in hiring.

Canada and the U.K. tied for third place, with minorities there 11 per cent more likely to face discrimination in hiring.

It found that people of African, Asian and Middle Eastern descent all experience similar levels of discrimination.

”For white immigrants, by contrast, discrimination is lower and is often not statistically significant,” the study stated, adding that “there is no evidence of ‘reverse’ discrimination against white natives” in hiring.

Quillian points to “certain laws and institutional practices” to help explain why some countries experience far higher levels of discrimination. For instance, the U.S.’s laws on racial bias in the workplace likely contributed to its relatively positive score.

“No other countries require monitoring of the racial and ethnic makeup of ranks of employees as is required for large employers in the U.S.,” Quillian said in a statement. “For instance, large employers in the U.S. are required to report race and ethnicity of employees at different ranks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

Meanwhile, in France, where discrimination is most common, employers aren’t allowed to inquire about the race of applicants. “The French do not measure race or ethnicity in any official ― or most unofficial ― capacities, which makes knowledge of racial and ethnic inequality in France very limited and makes it difficult to monitor hiring or promotion for discrimination,” Quillian said.

More detailed job applications?

And Quillian suggests that one solution to the problem may be to emulate how hiring is done in Germany, the country with the lowest incidence of discrimination. There, job applicants are typically required to provide very detailed job applications that often include high school grades.

The idea is that having a very detailed picture of an applicant leaves less room for hiring managers to “fill in the blanks” with their own pre-conceptions about that person, which may include racial prejudices.

“We suspect that this is why we find low discrimination in Germany ― that having a lot of information at first application reduces the tendency to view minority applicants as less good or unqualified,” Quillian said.

Source: Canada Among Top Countries For Racist Hiring In 9-Country Survey huffingtonpost.ca

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

ICYMI – Black job seekers have harder time finding retail and service work than their white counterparts, study suggests | Toronto Star

Interesting study:

Black applicants may have a harder time finding an entry level service or retail job in Toronto than white applicants with a criminal record, a new study has found.

For a city that claims to be multicultural, the results were “shocking,” said Janelle Douthwright, the study’s author, who recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies from the University of Toronto.

Douthwright read a similar study from Milwaukee, Wis., during her undergraduate courses and she was “floored” by the findings.

“I thought there was no way this would be true here in Toronto,” she said.

She pursued her graduate studies to find out.

Douthwright created four fictional female applicants and submitted their resumes for entry level service and retail positions in Toronto over the summer.

She gave two of the applicants Black sounding names — Khadija Nzeogwu and Tameeka Okwabi — and gave one a criminal record. The Black applicants also listed participation in a Black or African student association on their resumes.

She gave the two other applicants white sounding names — Beth Elliot and Katie Foster — and also gave one of them a criminal record. The candidates with criminal records indicated in their cover letters that they had been convicted of summary offences, which are often less serious crimes.

 

Both Black applicants applied to the same 64 jobs and the white applicants applied to another 64 jobs.

Douthwright explained that she didn’t submit all four applications to the same jobs because the applications for the two candidates with criminal records and the two applicants without criminal records were almost identical except for the elements she used to indicate race, so they might have aroused suspicions among the employers if they were all submitted for the same jobs.

Though the resumes were nearly identical — each applicant had a high school education and experience working as a hostess and retail sales associate — the white applicant who didn’t have a criminal record received the most callbacks by far.

 

Of the 64 applications, the white applicant with no criminal record received 20 callbacks, a callback rate of 31.3 per cent. The white applicant with a criminal record received 12 callbacks, a callback rate of 18.8 per cent.

The Black applicant with no criminal record, meanwhile, received seven callbacks, a rate of 10.9 per cent. The Black applicant with a criminal record received just one callback out of 64 applications, a rate of 1.6 per cent.

Lorne Foster, a professor in the Department of Equity Studies at York University said Douthwright’s study bolsters the thesis that “the workplace is discriminatory on a covert level.”

“We have a number of acts that protect us against discrimination and many people think that because of that strong infrastructure discrimination is gone,” he said.

That’s not the case. “Implicit” or unconscious bias is a persistent issue.

“All of these implicit biases are automatic, they’re ambivalent, they’re ambiguous, and they’re much more dangerous than the old-fashioned prejudices and discrimination that used to exist because they go undetected but they have an equally destructive impact on people’s lives,” Foster said.

“It’s an invisible and tasteless poison and it’s difficult to eliminate.”

Individual employers, he said, should take a proactive approach to ensure their hiring practices are inclusive or at least adhering to the human rights code by testing and challenging their processes to uncover any hidden prejudices.

He pointed to the Windsor Police Service, who shifted their hiring practices when they discovered their existing process was excluding women, as an example.

They were one of the first services to do a demographic scan of who works for them, said Foster, who worked on a human rights review of the service.

Through that process they realized there was a “dearth” of female officers. They realized that the original process, which involved a number of physical tests “where there was all this male testosterone flying around,” was inhibiting women from attending the session.

In response they organized a series of targeted recruitment sessions and were able to hire five new women at the end of that process, Foster said.

“We all need to be vigilant about our thoughts about other people, our hidden biases and images of them,” he said.

via Black job seekers have harder time finding retail and service work than their white counterparts, study suggests | Toronto Star

CSIS settles multimillion-dollar lawsuit with employees who claimed workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia

Appears new CSIS director understood the implications and reacted quickly:

Canada’s spy service has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with five intelligence officers and analysts who claimed they faced years of discrimination because they were gay, Muslim or Black.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service posted a comment from director David Vigneault on the agency’s website Thursday afternoon, stating that the agreement had been reached with the help of a mediator.

“The settlement is in the best interest of all those concerned,” Vigneault wrote. “The complexity of the ever-evolving threat environment requires that all CSIS employees are equipped to give their best. As such, I strongly believe in leading an organization where each employee promotes a workplace which is free from harassment and conducive to the equitable treatment of all individuals.”

CSIS did not release the terms of the settlement, saying they are confidential.

Toronto lawyer John Phillips, who represented the five employees, said he could not comment on the case.

The $35-million lawsuit, launched in July, was a rare public airing of internal complaints at one of Canada’s most secretive organizations and contained detailed allegations about managers who openly espoused Islamophobic, racist and homophobic views.

Some of the most damning claims concerned emails allegedly sent by managers to Toronto intelligence officer “Alex.” (The five employees and managers are identified by pseudonyms as identifying a spy can be considered an offence under Canada’s Security of Information Act.)

“Alex,” is gay and has a Muslim partner. According to the statement of claim, one email allegedly sent in October 2015 stated: “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.”

Vigneault, who had only been appointed director a few weeks before the lawsuit was launched, responded quickly to the allegations.

As the Star reported in October, he invited the five employees to a lengthy meeting to hear the allegations first-hand. He also released a statement acknowledging that his agency suffers from a workplace climate of “retribution, favouritism, bullying and other problems,” which he said is “categorically unacceptable in a high-functioning, professional organization.”

via CSIS settles multimillion-dollar lawsuit with employees who claimed workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia | Toronto Star

Poll: Discrimination Against Women Is Common Across Races, Ethnicities, Identities : NPR

Another in the series of NPR polls on discrimination, with the usual richness of data including the “intersectionality” between race and gender:

Discrimination in the form of sexual harassment has been in the headlines for weeks now, but new poll results being released by NPR show that other forms of discrimination against women are also pervasive in American society. The poll is a collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

For example, a majority (56 percent) of women believe that where they live, women are paid less than men for equal work. And roughly a third (31 percent) say they’ve been discriminated against when applying for jobs because they are women.

Overall, 68 percent of women believe that there is discrimination against women in America today.

The chart below shows that the experience of gender discrimination is not monolithic — women in each racial, ethnic and identity group have particular problems in employment, education, housing and interactions with law enforcement, the courts and government. Several groups of women also avoid seeking health care out of concern they will face discrimination.

On nearly every measure, Native American women had the highest levels of discrimination based on gender. In our series, “You, Me and Them: Experiencing Discrimination in America,” we have highlighted several of these situations, including unfair treatment by the courts in majority-Native areas.

NPR will livestream an expert panel discussion on Native American issues at noon ET on Tuesday.

One of the patterns that emerged from the poll and our subsequent reporting is a gulf between high- and low-income areas when it comes to experiences of discrimination. This gap is also apparent in the gender data crunched by our Harvard team. The graph below illustrates the stark differences based on income when it comes to several everyday experiences people have in their own neighborhoods.

A snapshot in time

Our poll — which was fielded from late January to early April — before this fall’s intense news coverage of sexual harassment — also captures what women were feeling and experiencing before the recent scandals.

We found that 37 percent women overall reported they or a female family member had been sexually harassed because they are women at some point in their lives. But there was a wide range of responses based on age, with 60 percent of those 18 to 29 years old saying they or a female family member had been sexually harassed because they are women, versus 17 percent of women 65 and over.

“Our survey highlights the extraordinary level of personal experiences of harassment facing women today, as reflected in the news,” says Robert Blendon, co-director of the poll and professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School. “These national conversations may have affected how people viewed or responded to their own experiences in our survey, or their willingness to disclose these experiences.”

Indeed, a poll released last week by Quinnipiac University, asking specifically about sexual assault, suggests women may be more comfortable reporting such experiences now that more women are coming forward and revealing past abuse. (Our poll differs from Quinnipiac in that we asked a broader question: “Do you believe that you or someone in your family who is also a female has experience sexual harassment because you or they are female?”)

The survey from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard Chan School was conducted from Jan. 26 to April 9, 2017 among a nationally representative probability-based telephone (cell and landline) sample of 1,596 women. The margin of error for total female respondents is 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. Complete methodological information is in the full poll report.

via Poll: Discrimination Against Women Is Common Across Races, Ethnicities, Identities : NPR