Paradkar: Migrant worker groups slam new Canadian border restrictions

Not as bizarre as it sounds. Normal triage and expect some further actions by the government to address some of the issues raised. Given the pace of developments and the extent of the pandemic, unrealistic to expect any government to address all aspects, and all those affected, at one time. To say this is “simply racism” is simply silly and simplistic:

The federal government announced drastic border restrictions on Monday, with the prime minister saying only non-sick Canadians, permanent residents and — bizarrely — American citizens would be permitted to enter the country.

That means our doors are closed to residents with work permits and student permits, refugee claimants and anyone in need of humanitarian assistance.

Many migrant workers — farm workers and care workers, who are usually racialized — are on these permits. They cannot enter. Some are separated from their families, others are losing their livelihoods.

“There is no public health reason to shut out non-permanent residents,” the Migrant Rights Network said in a statement on the heels of the announcement. “This is simply racism.”

In these moments of determined calm amid chaos and confusion, it’s worth reflecting that when the comfortable feel vulnerable, the already vulnerable get pushed further into the margins.

Migrant workers are being penalized if they left the country. They’re being excluded from policies to protect Canadians if they did not. And if moral imperatives to do the right thing are insufficient, there’s this: not paying attention to their plight puts us all at risk.

About 37 migrant organizations from across Canada came together Monday demanding that the government support more than 1.5 million non-permanent residents in Canada, who they say “face a potential human rights disaster” when the loss of their livelihoods here leaves their families without food.

They’re asking the government to offer access to health care for all, including undocumented residents; to strengthen labour laws so migrants workers can also get paid sick leave and protection from reprisals for taking that leave; an end to all detentions and deportations; and funds to expand emergency shelters and food banks that are bursting at the seams.

Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said migrant organizations were flooded with hundreds of calls within an hour of Ottawa’s announcement, “from students abroad not being able to come back and from workers who’ve already bought plane tickets and paid tens of thousands of dollars” in recruitment fees. “There is no clarity if they will be protected.”

This is the start of the agricultural season and Hussan said farm workers who did manage to get in are finding employers refusing to take them to grocery stores.

“They live in rural communities and can’t get to the grocery stores,” Hussan said. “And when they do get to the grocery stores, there are no supplies there. So, we’re literally doing food drops across the country to farms.”

What about the workers who didn’t travel?

They can’t afford to fall sick. There is no Employment Insurance available for those who are paid in cash, Hussan said.

Most migrant workers don’t have access to paid sick leave and risk losing their jobs even if they take unpaid sick days.

Earlier Monday, Premier Doug Ford promised legislation that would remove the requirement for employees to obtain sick notes before taking time off work. But it’s not clear if that protection extends to migrant workers.

Add to that, existing immigration laws allows for workers to be deported if they fall sick, even if their home countries are unsafe.

That threat is a huge barrier to farm workers and care workers from reporting to the health authorities if they do fall sick or are asked to do unsafe work.

“We wanted to hear about labour laws needing to work with federal immigration laws. But we heard nothing from federal government except the closure of borders,” Hussan said. “And that’s creating more shock waves than anything else. People feel excluded rather than protected.”

Social distancing for the usually comfortable means figuring out workarounds: FaceTime! Skype meetings! Pick up the phone (as the prime minister said)! Take walks! Don’t go to the gym! But the usually vulnerable are finding themselves in a deeper, more ominous mess.

“We’re hearing from a lot of people that care workers are not being allowed to leave home because employers are too nervous (that) it’s going to impact them.”

In other words they’re trapped in their workplace without a break. Imagine the uproar if Bay Street did that to its employees.

Also, how would migrant workers who live in bunk houses, sometimes “18 to a house” self-isolate? Or wash their hands? “We know there’s no running water on the fields. People don’t have the ability to wash their hands,” Hussan said.

Labour laws, immigration laws and health and safety laws need to be adapted to ensure that migrant and undocumented workers are protected, Hussan said.

“Instead of dealing with this as a public health crisis, the government is responding to it by dealing with it as a securitization crisis by shutting down the border to racialized migrants and low-wage people.”

Source: OpinionShree Paradkar: Migrant worker groups slam new Canadian border restrictions

Why celebrating women’s rights without an intersectional lens is meaningless

I wouldn’t go as far as meaningless, and I find intersectionality is too jargony to my taste but of course, one should not celebrate or discuss any group, whether men, women, specific religious or ethnic groups, without consideration and acknowledgement of that diversity.

Ironically, when I analyse economic outcomes of visible minorities compared to not visible minorities, the gaps are larger between visible minority men and not visible minority men than is the case for women as the example looking at second generation 25-34 year olds below illustrates (similar pattern for first generation):

Not that many years ago, four to be precise, a senior journalist was sincerely trying to explain how his newsroom was attempting to diversify its staff.

Job applicants could check one of four boxes, he said. Gender, race, disability and sexual orientation. What box would I check, I wondered out loud.

“Race,” he said. And just like that, he erased major parts of my identity, rendering everything beyond my brown skin invisible.

This was about 25 years after civil rights advocate and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to describe how people’s identities interact with power to create new forms of discrimination (specifically around Black women) when they overlap, and a few years after it had become a mainstream buzzword.

March 8 was International Women’s Day, a day that sprung from the women’s labour movement and began to be celebrated in many countries since the United Nations’ adoption of it in 1975. It gained a higher profile in recent years following important movements such as #MeToo.

But every day is every woman’s day. Celebrating the fierceness of the suffragettes who helped women win the right to vote doesn’t mean we forget that it was white women who won that right for themselves in Canada, Asians came decades later and that First Nations men and women didn’t have the right to vote until 1960.

If second-wave feminism looked at expanding rights beyond voting, I don’t know how we can celebrate representation in boardrooms and courtrooms without acknowledging that “diversity” initiatives have allowed white patriarchy to bend just enough to accommodate white women.

I don’t know how we can celebrate a narrowing gender wage gap without acknowledging that jobs traditionally done by women, often racialized women — health-care workers, daycare workers, nannies — are undervalued and underpaid. If full-time working women earned on average 75 cents to every dollar earned by a man, racialized and Indigenous full-time working women earned approximately 65 cents.

Women can use their own bodies however they choose, but I don’t know how we can celebrate Femen-type feminists and their topless protests without acknowledging that feminism is often reduced to sexual liberation or that sexual liberation is often reduced to the acreage of skin women expose.

For that matter, I don’t know how we think we’ve got anything close to liberation when women in the richest corporations are most valued when they show up to work looking thin, wearing tight clothes, tall heels and warpaint on their faces. And yeah, not in overly bright colours (too loud), not in overly short skirts (too slutty) or overly long ones (too daggy). Hair is ideally straight with a few waves permitted to flounce up at the bottom. While we’re at it, slow down those promotions if you must keep your hair grey, keep a ’fro or dreadlock or twist it, and heaven forbid you go home every time your kids are sick.

In other words, I don’t know how any reflection on the fight for women’s rights can be authentic unless it is intersectional. By that I don’t mean that we just include the voices of women who continue to be oppressed by identities of race, culture, caste, sexuality and disability.

To hell with “inclusion” and the paternalism inherent in it.

Inclusion is inviting a Black woman at a rally to speak about her experiences in a let’s-expand-our-minds sort of way. In this scenario, her experience — seen as a deviation from the norm rather than central to it — is still in service of non-Black women.

This kind of “inclusion” then allows organizations like the Toronto Public Library to claim diversity of thought and platform voices of those who reject trans women from the fold of womanhood.

On the other hand, true intersectional feminism means radically changing societal structures to put the most marginalized at the centre, making their concerns the first priority.

In this scenario, a discussion around sexual safety would yield not to more policing but less. In her book Invisible No More, Andrea Ritchie outlines how for white women, the concern around sexual assault and domestic violence is around police non-response. For women of colour, that police response is the problem, with too many experiences of officers responding to domestic violence calls sexually assaulting or otherwise violating the person who called for help.

The cases of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girlsare not a sideshow from “mainstream” women’s issues, but central to it.

Prioritize those voices and support structures around sexual assault might start to look more like transformative education for all genders at schools and highly trained, legally empowered social workers might be brought to the front line.

On reproductive rights, if issues such as the forced sterilization of Indigenous women or the dignity of the poorest women were at the centre, the discussion would go beyond condoms and abortion rights. It would lead to a revolutionary battle to keep governments away from our bodies, a fight for free services including legal and medical support, among other solutions.

New StatCan data shows how Canada is failing new generations of Black youth

Looking forward to seeing future StatsCan work to see if this pattern is common to both recent and long-term immigrants and region of origin, given that recent Black economic immigrants tend to be more highly skilled/educated than earlier waves. As there are few third generation immigrants for recent immigrants, will take some time to see but second generation outcomes will likely be illustrative:

If statistical data tell us stories in numerical form, new information from StatCan depicts Canada as a nation that’s continuing to fail its Black youth. It also shows that the commonly accepted narrative that immigrants fare better with successive generations simply may not hold true for all immigrant groups.

While these outcomes will not come as a surprise to those who have long observed and studied Black experiences, they make the implications of Statistics Canada’s conclusions inescapable.

“The persistent gaps between the Black population and the rest of the population suggest that other factors not measured by the data used, including discrimination, could have an effect,” concludes Martin Turcotte in the study, titled “Education and Labour Market Integration of Black Youth in Canada.” It was published this week in the journal Insights on Canadian Society and is based on information from the 2006 and 2016 censuses.

The study compares Black Canadian youth with non-Black youth as they transition from childhood or adolescence to adulthood.

StatCan also released what it called a booklet, “Canada’s Black Population: Education, Labour and Resilience.”

Two key data sets show why this latest snapshot has significant implications for the Black community, said York University professor Carl James, who, as a member of the Working Group on Black Communities, offered advice and guidance for this project.

First, the Black population is young and growing. Canada’s Black population doubled between 1996 and 2016, from 600,000 to 1.2 million. In 2016, more than a quarter of the Black population was less than 15 years of age, compared with 16.9 per cent of the total population. Its median age is about 30, while it is 40 years for the total population.

“This means you can understand how the concerns of the Black community are weighted around ‘What’s happening to our young population,’” James said.

Second, about nine per cent of Black people in Canada are at least the third generation to be born in this country — a rate that is higher, he said, than for other racialized minorities.

“There needs to be a serious concern about this generation,” James said. “We’re responsible for their welfare in the Canadian state.”

Because the modern wave of Black immigration to Canada dates back to the 1960s, the outcomes for Black people could serve as a bellwether for minorities who arrived later.

“This is what we see for Black youth now. It is possible as other groups become third-generation you’re going to see more similar patterns,” he said.

The unique experiences of Black people also mean they should be disaggregated from the more general “visible minority” category, he said.

Some of the key StatCan findings include:

  • Most Black youth aspire to a university degree but are less likely to think they will obtain it. In 2016, although 94 per cent of Black youth aged 15 to 25 said that they would like to get a bachelor’s degree or higher, only 60 per cent thought that they could.
  • There persists a gap in post-secondary graduation rates between Black youth and their counterparts who are not Black. About half (51 per cent) of Black men aged 23 to 27 in 2016 had a post-secondary qualification, compared with 62 per cent of other men.
  • There persists a gap in employment rates between Black and non-Black youth. Young Black males were nearly twice as likely as other young males not to have a job in 2016.

Shree Paradkar: Will the Iran crash prompt Canadians to at last acknowledge our shameful response to the Air India tragedy?

More Air India/Ukraine International plane crash characterization and reaction comparisons:

It was the end of the school year in June 1985. Montreal-based Vipin Bery dropped his wife, Neelam, and children — Priya, 8, and Aditya, 4 — at the Mirabel Airport and said goodbye. They were off to India on their summer holidays. He would never see them again.

Toronto-based Lata Pada had flown to India in advance, and was waiting for her husband, Vishnu, and teenage daughters, Brinda and Arti, to arrive. They were to fly onward to Bangalore.

“And then to hear the plane was not going to land,” she said over the phone this weekend.

Last week’s shattering deaths of 176 people aboard Ukraine Flight 752, including 57 Canadians, has brought memories flooding back to families of those who perished in the Air India 182 bombing that blew up the plane off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board.

“In a way you never get over it,” Bery, now based in Toronto, said. Bery eventually “found the strength to try again” and has a wife and children who are now in their 20s. “I’ve tried to move on the best I could.”

Last week, within hours of the Iran plane crash, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “While no words will erase your pain, I want you to know that an entire country is with you. We share your grief.” His words had the effect of gathering Canadians together in an act of national mourning.

In 1985, following the deaths of about 268 Canadians, then-prime minister Brian Mulroney called his Indian counterpart, the late Rajiv Gandhi, and offered his condolences. We should never let him live this down.

“Every family I speak to tells me this,” says Chandrima Chakraborty, an English and cultural studies professor at McMaster University. “This is something the Air India families have neither forgotten nor forgiven.”

“Their loss is irreparable. Here you had these families at their worst moment of crisis having to prove their Canadianness,” she says.

Cork, on the southwest coast of Ireland, became the site for bodies that were being recovered to be brought back for identification, and families rushed there from all over the world.

“I was grieving there in Cork,” Pada says. “Not a single Canadian official was there. Not a single representative from the Canadian government. Nobody from the Canadian embassy even came to even inquire and comfort us.

“It was such a contrast to the Irish who were so completely compassionate, taking us into their homes and to welcome us with love.”

Years after the bombing, she testified in a public inquiry, “They (the Irish) took this tragedy upon themselves as if they had suffered.”

Of how the Iranian-Canadians are being treated now, Pada says, “I’m truly glad that even though they may be hyphenated Canadians they are still considered Canadian. Thank goodness this time Trudeau has made a strong presence of his compassion and strong condemnation of what happened and strong commitment to investigate it.”

However, Canadians looking to turn this into a “look how far we’ve come” moment are missing the point if they’re converting the Air India tragedy into an occasion for self-congratulations. Even today, in the long aftermath of the 35-year-old terrorist atrocity, this is not a disaster that registers on the Canadian conscience. (I say this while acknowledging the local communities who have paid tributes.)

How many of us take a moment on June 23 to reflect on that tragedy? We (rightly) do so annually for the 1989 Montreal massacre of 14 women. When 16 people including 10 players of the Humboldt Broncos team died in a road accident in 2018, Canadians placed hockey sticks on our porches in solidarity, supported a quick investigation and trial so the families could find closure, and even crowdsourced $15 million.

Eighty-two children were killed in the Air India bombing. How have we mourned them?

Chakraborty, who has no personal connection to the tragedy, has made it her mission since 2010 to bring it into public consciousness. She began teaching about the bombing and its aftermath in 2010 and is now creating an Air India archive at the McMaster library. Last year, she along with two colleagues published an anthology, Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning.

The bombs, as we now know, were made in Canada, planted in Canada and killed Canadians.

But, dear god, it took forever for even that to be clear.

It took years of the RCMP and CSIS pointing fingers at each other, years for the case to go to the country’s most expensive trial with botched evidence.

It took 20 years of advocacy by the families themselves for Canada to declare June 23 a national day of remembrance for victims of terrorism.

It took 22 years for the federal government to fund memorials in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.

How many of us have visited them?

One politician who shows up at the Humber Bay Park East memorial in Etobicoke unannounced and without fanfare is former Ontario premier Bob Rae, says Chakraborty. Rae wrote a public report on the disaster. It’s instructive that when Trudeau turned to Rae for advice on handling the Iran plane crash, Rae’s advice was staying in close touch with the families.

It took 23 years for a public inquiry into the investigation of the bombing to be published. “Almost to a witness, the family members told the Commission of feeling left out from the beginning of their painful experience,” it said.

Now, 35 years later, a similar unfathomable tragedy is urging us, the Canadian public, to come to a collective reckoning and connect with the Canadian tragedy.

Will we? June 23 this year will provide us with a mirror.

Source: Shree Paradkar: Will the Iran crash prompt Canadians to at last acknowledge our shameful response to the Air India tragedy?Even today, in the long aftermath of the 35-year-old terrorist atrocity, Air India is not a disaster that registers on the Canadian conscience, Shree Paradkar writes. 

ICYMI – Shree Paradkar: Whataboutism is just a trolling tactic — and it deserves to be shut down

While parallels and comparisons can be useful in providing perspective, excessive use is more to divert rather than engage in conversation:

This much is for sure: there’s no dearth of injustices around the world. But just when you tackle the proverbial elephant, up pops this logical fallacy: “What about that other bit here, what about that bit there?”

When I, as a Canadian from India, write about racism and white supremacy, the predictable question is, “But what about the caste system?”

Well, what about it? And what is the commenter doing to dismantle it, or any set of unjust hierarchies?

The caste system has astounding parallels to white supremacy, except it’s even older. It’s the same violent and heritable hierarchy that enforces the creation of an impoverished class, builds societies and prosperity for some on the backs of those it stamps down and then blames them for their own marginalization.

I am a beneficiary of this system. These are the complex contradictions that some of us hold as we navigate and nudge a system towards genuine egalitarianism.

A new survey, the first of its kind, shows caste discrimination playing out among South Asians in the U.S. I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t in Canada.

But its existence has little bearing on the truth of white supremacy. People who throw up the caste apartheid in response to racial apartheid don’t really care about the oppressed Dalits and Adivasis; they’re using them to score points in a verbal argument.

In the bargain they show a few things: That they are unable to look past the fact that a non-white Canadian (“the other”) is critiquing Canadian systems, that they are defensive, conflating white supremacy with white people, which is telling, that they are indulging in a whataboutism, a tactic that has seen a recent upswing in usage.

According to Merriam-Webster, “whataboutism” is a rhetorical device that “is not merely the changing of a subject (‘What about the economy?’) to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offence just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offences may be.”

Another predictable whataboutism is, “What about Black crime?”

Well, what about it? And what are the commenters doing beyond looking at crime stories, Black skin and going one plus one equals the same old tired tropes?

It’s an ahistorical view that discounts the root causes of the violence and is usually raised to suggest Black people are inherently criminal, or that they are architects of their own oppression.

Like as if, since the end of slavery, Black people in the U.S. and Canada have been given job opportunities, quality education, access to housing, equitable health services, and fair treatment by law makers and lawkeepers.

Given that background, what we should marvel at is the ongoing resilience of Black people who excel despite these conditions.

There are many more convenient whataboutisms.

Some create false equivalences: “What about the Indigenous people who were killing each other?” As if internecine warfare is the same as the violence of colonization.

Others are irrelevant. “What about how women are treated in the Middle East?” As if that should impact how Canada treats its women from different backgrounds. “What about FGM?”

“What about slavery in Africa’s past?”

“What about Irish history here?”

All these topics can be addressed in detail — many have been on these pages and elsewhere — but it’s never enough to satisfy the next person who doesn’t care to educate themself but feels entitled to answers to the same questions, again and again.

Sometimes, however, legitimate questions on context, holding the powerful to account and challenging falsehoods can be falsely labelled as whataboutism.

Waging international war on the pretext of rescuing local populations from human rights violations, for instance: “What about the human rights violations you will enact there? What is your accountability?”

A political party claiming to be a friend of Indigenous people: “What about your record on pipelines or policies on access to drinking water? What about your leader asking Indigenous people to leave their reserves?”

A person who uses “race is a social construct” as a tool to dismiss the existence of racism: “What about” — and there is literally an embarrassing richness of data to pick from to show the real life, detrimental, even fatal effects of racism.

True whataboutism, however, is just a trolling tactic, a means to deflect from the original point and dictate the terms of discussion.

To stay on point, the best answer to such a “what about” is: “Don’t change the subject.”

Source: Shree Paradkar: Whataboutism is just a trolling tactic — and it deserves to be shut down

White privilege and an exploration of uncomfortable truths

Good explanations and discussion by Denise O’Neil Green, Ryerson’s vice-president for equity and community inclusion, and Rinaldo Walcott, director of the University of Toronto’s women and gender studies institute:

In Philadelphia, two Black men are arrested by police for simply sitting in a Starbucks. In Australia, the pop star Halsey goes online to vent about the lack of hotel shampoos for ethnic hair. On Twitter, an exchange between two Canadian politicians — one white, one Black — sparks a national debate over issues of race and privilege.

Such stories are increasingly making waves around the world and each new headline seems to generate a flurry of tweets, thinkpieces and conversations about the notion of white privilege. After percolating in academic circles for decades, the term “white privilege” has found mainstream currency in recent years; it has also attracted both repudiation and support.

For many people, they are now engaging with the idea for the first time and asking: “What is white privilege anyway?” This week, hundreds of people will gather at Ryerson University to explore this question and more at Canada’s first white privilege conference, an event that has been held annually in the United States since 1999.

To address some of the basic ideas around white privilege, the Star spoke with two scholars who will be attending the conference: Denise O’Neil Green, Ryerson’s vice-president for equity and community inclusion, and Rinaldo Walcott, director of the University of Toronto’s women and gender studies institute.

Both have spent much of their careers thinking about white privilege and the ways in which it shapes our world. Here’s what they had to say:

Let’s start with the basic question. How do you define white privilege?

Green: In very basic terms, it is an unearned benefit or “perk” that one receives simply because of their skin colour. A more multi-layered way of looking at it is that white privilege operates in terms of a system that benefits particular groups over others. It’s a system structure that all of us operate in — whether we’re aware of it or not.

Walcott: For me, what the term “white privilege” seeks to allow people to understand is the way in which societies, like the one that we live in, are default white societies. Everywhere we look in these societies, all of the ways in which people are accorded, important, respected and so on centre around the idea that anything that is white North American or white European is the absolute standard to reach.

But what that means is that many people who are not white can never, ever achieve that standard, and many people who are simply born white are assumed to have reached that standard, even if they themselves can’t reach it either. So that’s what we begin to call “white privilege”; the ways in which we live in a society where some people, because of the accident of their birth, can enter that society — its institutions, government, education, universities, even the holidays we celebrate — and participate at levels and in ways that other people are unable to.

Can you think of some examples of white privilege in action, both on the micro and macro level?

Walcott: Let’s say (a Black person) enters a department store and they want to buy a pair of pants in the men’s section and a T-shirt for their child in the children’s section. They will make sure to pay for those pants in the men’s section and then go to the children’s section. Meanwhile, you see many white people who have piles of clothes, they walk all through the store and all kinds of floors, and they don’t have to think about it. The reason we pay before going to another floor is because we know that the possibility of being accused of shoplifting exists for us.

That’s an example of white privilege. When you don’t have to think about how you move through your everyday life, worrying about whether or not you’re going to be stopped by security or police. Non-white, Black and Indigenous people in Canada have to think about that all the time.

Green: On a macro level, unfortunately, it’s the way particular groups are treated by the police versus others. The CBC just came out with their own statistics (showing) that in particular areas of the country where you have a high population of Indigenous or Black Canadian citizens, they find themselves disproportionately impacted by the police in a very different and sometimes fatal way.

Another macro aspect is the diversity on boards; they still continue to be predominantly white and predominantly male. Probably another example is one’s name; if you have a racialized-sounding name, or a less English sounding name, then you’re less likely to be called back for a job interview.

So those are examples of privilege that for some can be very invisible, but is very visible for many of us.

A lot of people deny that white privilege exists. How do you understand that denial and where it comes from?

Walcott: When white working-class people hear “privilege,” they often think you’re talking about the individual material benefits that some people have. And yes, of course, a part of that is individual material benefits but when we’re talking about white privilege, what we’re really talking about is (how) the possibility of a white person being able to make it out of the working class is many, many times higher than, say, a Black person or Indigenous person.

When we talk about white privilege, we’re also talking about a body of ideas where even white working-class people can understand themselves to be more important or contributing more to society. So white privilege is not just about individuals being able to accumulate things for themselves, it’s also about a way of understanding the world — and that cuts across class.

Green: What I think is very interesting about white privilege, and just privilege in general, is you never really get to know what’s happening unless you walk in another person’s shoes.

I’ll give a personal example. My son was unfortunately hit by a drunk driver and as a result, he ended up needing to use a wheelchair. That experience has absolutely opened my eyes to how the world privileges those who are fully able-bodied: restaurants, institutions, buildings not having elevators, buildings not having ramps. That’s something that people can get and understand more readily because it’s something they can see.

White privilege operates in the same way. What happened with my son had a very profound effect on me, but it also helped me to greater understand how systems and white privilege and other privileges impact our day-to-day lives … and how the world sees us and invites us in. Or not invite us in.

A common reaction when someone’s white privilege is pointed out to them is defensiveness, the feeling that they’ve been accused of racism. Is pointing out someone’s white privilege the same as pointing out their racism?

Walcott: No, it’s not. Of course sometimes pointing out white privilege is about pointing out a set of racist practices or behaviours, but pointing out someone’s white privilege is not always about calling them racist. What you’re trying to point to is the way in which that person can do something — or have an experience — because of their whiteness that is not available to other people.

If we understand white privilege as embedded in the structures and institutions of society, then we can’t assume that everybody who benefits from it is actually engaged in racist practices. People are simply going about the ways in which they have been taught to live a life in this society. That is part of the reason why the idea of white privilege rubs some people the wrong way, because they don’t fully understand that the way in which they’re doing things will accrue to them a set of privileges.

I’d like for you to address the perspective that white privilege is an inherently racist concept and talking about it is racist. How do you respond to that?

Walcott: It’s wrong, absolutely wrong, because white privilege is not about demarcating a particular racial group. It’s pointing to ways in which an already demarcated racial group — in fact, a group of people who have historically marked other people as “not white” — has, through violence and other means, built a society in which they accrued the most privilege.

But more importantly, when people make the claim that to talk about white privilege is racist against white people, what we’re seeing is an attempt to hijack the language of civil rights and human rights and to turn that language in on itself … to take the progressive language that is supposed to push back against forms of oppression and use it to actually continue those forms of oppression.

Green: There are actually a lot of white scholars who have not only developed the concept, but explored the concept and done a lot of work on the concept of a white privilege and whiteness. So I don’t necessarily agree that the term in and of itself is racist.

For me, I see it as a way to bring to light something that can be extremely uncomfortable to discuss. I do agree with that — it’s very uncomfortable to discuss — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to shy away from it.

What do you hope will come out of the upcoming white privilege conference?

Green: What I envision is that it will start the conversation in a very constructive, intentional way and get individuals to begin to look at various aspects of privilege that we operate in and how they impact all of us — looking at that, taking in this information, and seeing how it can be applied to their own personal circumstances. This is a means of helping us move the needle in the conversation around inclusion, and being able to truly make Canada an inclusive society.

Source: White privilege and an exploration of uncomfortable truths

Shree Paradkar’s related column:

Some privileges exist in the realm of emotions: It’s a privilege to be alive. It’s a privilege to live in a free country. It’s a privilege to write for this paper.

Then there are privileges that are not visible to, or acknowledged by, those that enjoy them: racial privilege, ethnic privilege, caste privilege, skin colour privilege, class privilege.

White privilege is a term that riles people who don’t understand it, which leads us to another academic term: “white fragility” — but that’s for another day.

I’ve enjoyed class, caste and skin-colour privilege in Asian countries. In India, as with my uncle, I was a “first-class” citizen. When I was looking for a house in Singapore, my real estate agent told me it was a “good thing” I was a light-skinned Indian “or nobody would give you a place.” In Canada, I have sufficient education/class privilege to compensate for the loss of racial privilege.

As someone who has walked both sides of the identity-based privilege line, I can attest to the invisibility of privilege when you enjoy it. I see the genuine blindness to its existence, but also the wilful ignorance of it. I recognize the defensive denial of this racial privilege because acceptance would challenge an enduring and implicit belief in white superiority as being foundational to Canada.

White privilege is a neutral academic observation. It doesn’t mean all white people are rich. It doesn’t mean all white people didn’t have to work hard for their success. It doesn’t imply all white people are racist. It does not attribute to an individual the actions of their race, or damn them for it.

White privilege just means that a white person in the exact same circumstance as a non-white person is far likelier to find success and growth. That means being white accrues some unearned benefits to an individual. “White” here depends on the current definition of it; not so long ago, Irish people were called the n-word on this continent. In the early 20th century Canadians from Ukraine and Eastern Europe were imprisoned in internment camps just based on their origin. Many, but not all, would be considered white today.

If the “white” race was created from an economic incentive to keep “Black” Africans low in the pecking order, or, in other words, if “white” was a term created to distinguish a set of people from “Black,” it’s obvious that a society that privileges whites least favours Blacks.

White privilege comes from the social value automatically ascribed to people just because of the colour of their skin. Add markers such as gender and wealth and education, and the value of white goes up exponentially.

Skin colour is the unkindest measure of a person’s worth and desirability. It’s a stamp branded on one’s body, one that cannot be covered or erased, so that people may be scrutinized and judged at a glance: whether they deserve to be rented a house or a key to the café washrooms or whether the mere sight of them is threatening enough to deserve instant death.

From what I’ve seen, the indulgent response to loud drunken white boys on public transit is quite different from the recoiling, recriminating looks shot at a sober Black man speaking somewhat loudly into his phone in a train.

Within whiteness, how closely you conform to British culture or physical type determines your chance of success. Once you meet those racial and cultural criteria, the ladder is yours to climb.

Meanwhile, the rest of the people are left looking at the ladder, realizing the game is already rigged.

Source: Shree Paradkar: White privilege is an academic observation, not an accusation

The foundational misogyny of incels overlaps with racism | Paradkar

Hard to understand and comprehend the extent and nature of such hatred:

The more things change, the more they stay the same, sometimes dangerously so.

In all the discussions around Incels or involuntary celibates — a term violently wrested out of an obscure internet subculture and thrown into mainstream lexicon after last week’s van rampage in Toronto — a less talked about aspect is the overlap of its foundational misogyny with racism.

There’s a reason for that. It’s complicated.

“When you have these communities that don’t have coherent ideologies on a lot of things, they’re united in their misogyny, not necessarily united on the racial stuff,” says Arshy Mann, a reporter for Xtra, a Toronto-based LGBTQ magazine, who has been surfing the larger “manosphere” subculture for a decade and researching Incels for the past six months.

Taking a virtual gander through some of these Incels threads is like entering the byzantine paths of a twisted mind. Whatever adjectives cross your mind, “healthy” is unlikely to be one of them.

Mann has come across East Asian men upset that white men have an easier time sleeping with East Asian women. He has come across brown men who fetishize whiteness.

Often, the racism is specifically anti-Black, he says.

“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,” says the now-deleted Facebook post on the wall of Alek Minassian, the man charged with murders after the Toronto van rampage.

Rodger, the half-Asian 22-year-old Santa Barbara, Calif., killer of six people (and then himself) in 2014, hailed as some sort of patron saint for the Incels, was so fixated on whiteness he bleached his hair and fantasized about tall, blonde girls. He saw their rejection as a rejection of his non-white parts. So he reserved in his so-called manifesto particular venom for boys of colour who got attention from white girls.

“How could an inferior, ugly Black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more …”

Rodger’s rage wasn’t reserved just for Black people, though.

“How could an inferior Mexican guy be able to date a white blonde girl, while I was still suffering as a lonely virgin?”

“How could an ugly Asian attract the attention of a white girl, while a beautiful Eurasian like myself never had any attention from them?”

While experts caution against assuming that it was Minassian who authored his Facebook post, its content offers a window into this miserable world.

“The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!” it says.

Chads are the attractive white men who get all the attention from Stacys, usually white women. But if Chad is the hated white guy in this warped world then “Tyrone” is the Black Chad, even more to be reviled.

Yet, there is a large non-white, or “ethnicels” participation on these forums.

“A significant number of these people who self describe as Incels identify as non-white,” says Mann. “I see a lot of South Asian and east Asian men and boys — or people of south Asian and east Asian origins.”

The currycels and ricecels.

And, of course, there are nazicels.

“There’s a real overlap with other parts of the alt-right,” says Mann. “The “manosphere” more broadly is an entry point into more racist, anti-Semitic and white nationalist ways of thinking.

“Because these are parallel subcultures there is a lot of movement from one to the other.”

On one incels.me thread, there is a discussion on “should Incels and alt-right form an unholy alliance?”

Not everyone is on board automatically. “They get some pushback,” says Mann. At the same time, he says, it’s a topic placed “within the window of legitimate discussion.”

On that same thread, a poster asks: should anti-miscegenation laws be enforced globally or should prostitution be made legal around the world?

It’s difficult to take seriously what appears to be juvenile jockeying around, a venting if you like, a play for who is worse off, who is uglier, who has it tougher — until there’s an actual body count.

“Of course, not all of them are violent,” says Mann. But the groups create a permission structure to engage in violence, he says. “They’re explicitly saying this is a good thing to do … It’s a way to prove their masculinity to engage in public violence.”

In one discussion on Minassian, a poster calling himself “blackcel” says, “While I do not condone killing or rape, I would be a lot more proud of a methodical Incel serial killer who carefully picked his victims and possibly raped them before death.”

via The foundational misogyny of incels overlaps with racism | The Star

Toronto police reaction to Marci Ien shows woeful ignorance of racism basics | Shree Paradkar

Good commentary on the difference between systemic and individual racism:

A predictable quality about air bubbles is that they always rise to the surface.

So it is with the light weight of ignorance.

Late last week, a senior Toronto police officer went on Twitter to dispute journalist Marci Ien’s account in the Globe and Mail of race playing a factor in being pulled over for the third time in eight months, and this time in her own driveway. She described the subsequent and now all-too-familiar fear and uncertainty and anxiety and fatigue of DWB, or Driving While Black.

She said she did nothing wrong, and was not given a ticket.

“You failed to stop at a stop sign,” a tweet by Staff Supt. Mario Di Tommaso read in part. “It was dark. Your race was not visible on the video and only became apparent when you stepped out of the vehicle in your driveway.”

His views were echoed by Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon.

“We are accountable,” she wrote on Twitter. “The whole event (incl. the traffic infraction) is on camera. The ethnicity of the driver is not visible until after she was pulled over, when she exits the car.”

Then Toronto Police Association chief Mike McCormack swooped in with a spectacular bit of you-asked-for-it-ism, tweeting an excerpt from a 2005 Globe and Mail interview of Ien where she said she liked speeding.

You might be interested in

Toronto police reaction to Marci Ien shows woeful ignorance of racism basics

Mob dressed in black damages vehicles, smashes storefronts on Hamilton’s Locke St.

Police hunt for suspect after girl sexually assaulted in her Mississauga home
How easy it is to disrupt the innocent Black person narrative.

She said this in 2005. Therefore she must deserve being pulled over three times in 2017-18.

Unsurprisingly, they led the conversation down the path to square one: Was it racism or not?

What is worth noting is that a police force that talks of building relations with the Black community and setting up “sensitivity training” remains out of its depth even with the basics of racism.

Racism isn’t just about intent. It’s also about outcomes.

Racism can occur without anyone having to be a racist — or without someone being actively prejudiced against a person of colour.

A Black person could be stopped five times by five different police officers, without any officer consciously disliking Black people.

For having the courage to share her story, Ien is now placed in the centre of a circle of doubt, a position that so many people of colour find themselves in when they speak of their experiences.

Disrespected, based on her account, by the cop who stopped her.

Disbelieved, humiliated and dismissed by the cops who challenged her story.

When police spokesperson Mark Pugash told the Star, “Ms. Ien has made some very serious allegations and we would encourage her to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director,” he means she should initiate a process that would hinge on proving whether the individual officer who stopped her was racist.

Nowhere in Ien’s piece is the allegation that the man who stopped her was racist.

But Pugash, and indeed his senior brass, depressingly show no understanding of systemic racism; in this case, a system not set up to mitigate a bundle of experiences that belong to the umbrella of racism.

What is being asked of Ien is to ignore the countless experiences and stories of humiliation, and manhandling by police. Ignore the needless deaths, some captured on videos that have scarred so many.

Ignore all those individual stories that stitch together to show a pattern of racial profiling and prove this particular incident to be racist.

In her book So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo says, “Those who demand the smoking gun of a racial slur or swastika or burning cross before they believe that an individual encounter with the police might be about race are ignoring what we know and what the numbers are bearing out …We are being targeted.”

Data from traffic stops found that Ottawa police are more likely to pull over disproportionate numbers of Black (and Middle Eastern) drivers.

Black people are three times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, according to information released by the Halifax Regional Police.

In Toronto, the seven-year long Black Experience Project found 79 per cent of Black men between the ages of 25 and 44 have been stopped by police in public places.

How Black people (and Indigenous people and other marginalized people) experience police is different from how people with specific status of race and age and wealth experience police. How we all experience police at the point of help is different from how we do at the point of criminalization.

“The power and corruption that enable police brutality put all citizens, of every race, at risk. But it does not put us at risk equally, and the numbers bear that out,” writes Oluo.

An individualistic society lead by those with status whose interests the police uphold has no impetus for changing the system.

And the wilfully ignorant, they go along for the ride.

via Toronto police reaction to Marci Ien shows woeful ignorance of racism basics | Toronto Star

Shree Paradkar: How anti-racism town hall gave hate-mongers an outsized place at the table

Basic civility necessary condition for discussion and debate. Disruptive tactics, whether on the right or left, are hardly conducive to greater understanding. As someone who is looking for ways to include different perspectives on immigration and related issues, a reminder of the limits when basic civility is not present:

An anti-racism town hall in east Toronto last Friday that was hijacked by a bunch of bigots is a prime example of why the “listen to both sides” argument or the urging to “be reasonable” don’t work.

Activists say they warned the provincial Liberals who organized the town hall at Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church on Gerrard St. E. at Woodbine Ave. that it was going to be derailed; their social media chatter showed white supremacists were planning to gate crash the event.

On the panel were Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism Michael Coteau, Beaches—East York MPP Arthur Potts and Beaches—East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. But it was the presence on the panel of Mississauga—Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid who introduced the anti-Islamophobia M-103 motion that was the lightning rod for the likes of Paul Fromm, Lynn Redden, Eric Brazau and Meir Weinstein.

These are representative of a group of people blessed with extraordinary penetrating vision that allows them to see someone you and I might take for a bright woman with achiever’s confidence as the ultimate evil infiltrator of political Canada, bent on blanketing the country under Sharia law.

An anti-racism activist who was at the event, who tracks far-right hate groups on social media, says these people have appeared on his radar in at least seven demonstrations in Toronto in the past 12 months (not counting their protests outside Masjid Toronto near City Hall.)

He asked for anonymity for fear of being targeted by these groups that include the Canadian Association for Free Expression, Council of Conservative Citizens, the Jewish Defense League, the Europe-based PEGIDA, the Proud Boys and the Suffragettes against Silence.

Group memberships are fluid, he says. Fromm, for instance, leads the Canadian Association for Free Expression and also serves as a director on the Council of Conservative Citizens.

“It’s important to inform readers that these people are just as fanatical as the so-called radical Muslims they claim to hate,” the activist who is with Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere (SAFE) told me.

Based on video footage and accounts of attendees, it was clear their presence not only coarsened the discussion, it gutted it.

The organizers announced the rules. Anyone with questions was to raise their hand and write their question down on a card given by a volunteer.

But the gate crashers began shouting out their questions.

Khalid made her opening remarks explaining the basis of M-103, and said, “It is OK to be white, it’s OK to be black, it’s OK to be yellow or to be any colour… because that is the Canada that I call my home, that is the Canada that we collectively built.”

But soon enough someone hollered, “It’s a back door to Sharia law. That’s what you’re trying to bring into the country.”

Redden, representing Suffragettes Against Silence, shouted: “Women have been voting for 100 years in this country,” neatly omitting the fact it was only white women who won that right. Not Indigenous women. Not Asian women.

At another point she yelled, “One thing you didn’t cover sister, is about women. What about the culture where you come from?”

Then, quite idiotically, “Do you think those women protesting in Iran are Islamophobic? You’re damn right they are.” As if those women are protesting their religion and not government coercion.

Despite entreaties to act like adults, a disturber known only as Lawrence, who activists say is a regular at racist demonstrations in Toronto shouted, “You are a fraud. You are a fraud.”

A little later, someone at the back is heard on video saying, “Is the purpose of M-103 to promote racism against Jews?” It didn’t matter that Khalid earlier had said hate crimes against Jewish people were unacceptable.

And when she said, “The Muslim community. It is so pluralistic, it’s so diverse,” the rest of what she was saying was drowned out by loud jeers.

The town hall that was held to discuss how the community could take a stand against “hate, intolerance and discrimination” in all its forms, accommodated all of it. The trolls were a minority, but they had an outsized seat at the table where their views should have been marginalized. Police cruisers were outside, but they were not asked to lead anyone out.

Although the loudmouths who came with nothing constructive were allowed to break the established rules to present their questions, although they were given special treatment, it was not enough.

It did not matter that Khalid was speaking in the calmest of tones, and Coteau was striking a placatory tone.

The hate-mongers continued to shout and interrupt and disrupt, leaving people who come to these events to feel whole further broken.

“To see such hate so close was jarring, upsetting and certainly made my blood boil. I can’t imagine experiencing such hate as a minority,” wrote organizer Erskine-Smith in a Facebook post after.

Yet, these minorities are always expected to faultlessly greet hate with grace, whether the racism is overt, passive-aggressive or delivered in dog-whistle words.

That calmness does nothing to disrupt racism.

Tone matters to those who seek to preserve their own comfort, to perhaps feel sorry for those they think are oppressed, to mentally pat themselves on the back for that charitable thought and move on.

Racism as feel-good balm. That’s what people seek when they ask for restraint.

Source: Shree Paradkar: How anti-racism town hall gave hate-mongers an outsized place at the table

Trudeau with his Indian culture overkill came across as patronizing | Shree Paradkar

It seems like everyone is piling on the gaffe-strewn trip of PM Trudeau to India. Paradkar’s is one of the best:

If apparel oft proclaims the man, then Polonius who uttered those words in Hamlet would have quite literally given our prime minister a dressing down this week. From the viewpoint of the Shakespearean character, Justin Trudeau would have broken the basic rules: his clothes were as costly as money could buy, but gaudy, too, proclaiming him unserious.

A charitable supposition would be that maybe — just maybe — since Canada is barely a blip on Indian consciousness, Trudeau decided to lean on his celebrity status to make an impression.

That much he did. So groan-inducing has Trudeau’s visit to India appeared thus far that it merits being rated as a cliched Bollywood drama.Over-the-top sherwanis and kurta pyjamas, Bhangra sequences, overly choreographed family time overdoing the namastes.

Then a touch of villainous melodrama in the form of a mistaken invitation to Jaspal Atwal, a man convicted of attempting to kill an Indian cabinet minister on Vancouver Island in 1986. Atwal was also charged, but not convicted, in connection with a 1985 attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, a former Liberal health minister and former premier of British Columbia.

That faux pas for which the Liberals apologized would be a terrible development during any official visit. On this one, it gave lie to Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s appeasement of the Punjab chief minister’s concerns of official Canadian support for the Sikh separatist movement.

The demand for a separate nation of Khalistan is an issue that has little support among Sikhs in India. It does not enjoy unanimous support here, either.

The concerns were fair: Trudeau’s appearance at a Sikh parade in Toronto last year with yellow and blue Khalistan flags in the background and posters of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale — the leader of the Khalistani movement — was not looked upon kindly in India.

Nor would Canada be sympathetic to a visiting foreign leader who posed with Quebec separatists.

Many of the poor first impressions would have been avoided had planners simply switched Day 6 to Day 1. Trudeau, finally wearing a business suit, met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, got that equally cringe-inducing, but in this case gratefully received, trademark bear hug from Modi, and was received with state honours.

Was there really no adviser in our PMO or the Foreign Office who said before the trip, “Meet Modi first. Go easy on the clothes. Wrap up the visit in 3 days. Be prepared to deal with the separatist issue”?

Earlier in the month, an expert told Global News, “There’s no question that the whole Khalistan question will overshadow this trip.”

Then an unnamed government official told the news outlet it was not expected to be a big issue.

If he had a chance to counsel Trudeau, Omer Aziz, a former adviser at the Department of Global Affairs in the Liberal government, says he would have said, “It’s going to come up and you need to make sure you know what you’re going to say.”

Before going to India, Aziz would have suggested Trudeau make a speech in support of united India and draw comparisons to separatist movements here.

Trudeau’s trip was billed as one to bolster economic and cultural connections. Because Canada’s minorities of colour are consigned to hyphenated labels, and never viewed as simply Canadian, Canadian leaders end up viewing foreign policy through the lens of diasporic politics.

And so, Indo-Canadians and Sikh-Canadians have come to expect images of a leader’s visit to New Delhi, the requisite visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, perhaps a Hindu temple or two.

But carry it too far and the symbolism of “we care” can become tiresomely reductive.

Religious and cultural observances such as a cloth on the head may be seen as a sign of respect. Wearing clothing from the host nation could be seen as a bit of charming politicking on the sidelines of trade deals and policy development.

As a main dish, overshadowing a $1 billion trade deal, it’s unpalatable. Neither Indians nor Indo-Canadians are quite so unsophisticated as to not detect being patronized.

Aziz sees this trip as evidence that governments should hire and empower more staffers of colour who understand the complexities of the world. “Literally all this was avoidable,” he said.

For all the talk of Trudeau’s diverse cabinet, behind the scenes decision makers, staffers and bureaucrats remain monochromatic.

“I think that frankly minorities, brown folks, people of colour should say this is enough,” says Aziz. “It’s time that millennials (like me) said either you’re going to share power with us or we’re going to mobilize and you’re going to suffer at the ballot box.

“We’re not going to be treated as any one’s vote bank.

“We don’t need you talking down to us. We don’t need you to begin every single speech saying diversity is our strength. What we need is at that beginning point of our conversation we need to be treated as equals, with respect. Then we can have a conversation about policy.”

via Trudeau with his Indian culture overkill came across as patronizing | Toronto Star