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.

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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

How Cheddar Man shatters accepted views of immigration | Shree Paradkar

The complexities of migration, history and identity:

You’ve got to confess it’s worthy of chuckles and cackles.

A made-for-Internet scientific discovery that at the same time strikes at the core of modern racial strife. An announcement Wednesday that DNA tests on the oldest complete skeleton in Britain, that heart and ancestral home of many white people around the world, suggest that the first modern Briton was blue-eyed, yes, but very dark-skinned and curly-haired.

The Cheddar Man, named thus for the English village of Cheddar where his skeleton was discovered in 1903, is about 10,000 years old.

To add salt to a supremacist’s wound, scientists said that the genes for lighter skin likely came from, you got it, immigrants from the Middle East.

Oh snap.

Dark-skinned native Britons and light-skinned immigrants.

It’s like reaching into the eye of a storm and fitting it with sunglasses.

Disorienting.

Those brave lads and fair maidens on glorious historical British dramas on TV — descendents of immigrants.

The image of God himself, majestic, kindly old white guy in white robes with flowing white beard — fashioned on immigrants.

Imagine being Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, who proudly stood in front of a Nazi-era-like poster with the slogan, “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all,” and a photo of a winding lineup of migrants of colour.

Now he would have to change that slogan to “Breaking point: I come from them. I am them.”

Such horror.

No wonder there were hopeful comments online about Cheddar Man such as, “Who’s to say the person’s not a foreign visitor” or a call to index this as “fake news,” or the insistence that this was a finding driven by a social justice agenda to force poor victimized British people into accepting mass migration.

The Cheddar Man, 10,000 years old though he may be, absolutely has bearing on contemporary debates on race and migration.

This discovery of a dark-skinned original Briton doesn’t put the race genie back into the bottle in an equalizing “we’re all immigrants” kind of way.

On the contrary, in exposing the racial fluidity of Britons, Cheddar Man delivers a sucker punch to toxic ideas that drive the white power mobs who in turn fuel xenophobic policies. It reveals the basis of their quick codes equating skin colour to valour or danger as nothing but fear-based fiction.

Scientists have long argued that race is not a biological concept. People of one race — or at least people who can be grouped together with similar physical traits — are not genetically homogenous.

The concept of races evolved as a way of justifying slavery and to maintain an economy founded on slave labour; it was easier to rationalize the brutalization of the “savage” than to face the unconscionable alternative.

From then on, it continues to be a favoured tool to demonize “the other.”

Around the world, oppressor groups have always found identity a useful tool with which to assert themselves as inherently superior, as “natural” holders of power, be it on the basis of race, gender, sexual identity, religious identity, tribal identity or caste.

That race isn’t real does not mean racism isn’t real.

Anti-Black racism is so widespread and global in scope, that I wish scientists would hurry up and create a bust out of the fossils of the 750,000-year old Peking Man, for instance, and in keeping with the Out of Africa theory, definitively establish Blackness as the root ancestry of Chinese people.

Such knowledge might have given the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan pause before it displayed a photography exhibit that juxtaposed wild African animals with Black African people.

I wish they were able create a bust that would depict an original “Indian Man,” one who existed before the Aryans and Dravidians did 5,000 years ago, as black-skinned — darker the better. Such knowledge might inject a modicum of humility before privileged Indians wreak racist violence on African students and caste-related violence on Dalits.

When nations look to figure out where they’re going next, it makes sense sometimes to turn back and look at the past for clues.

Being reminded of a shared heritage with people they consider coming from “s—hole” countries, might give Western leaders, including a certain U.S. president, a few pointers as they ponder immigration policies.

These leaders might read data helpfully put forward by Arvind Magesan, associate professor of economics, University of Calgary, in The Conversation. That might help them discover that although their own policies play a part in making those countries “s—holes,” those immigrants continue to be better educated, better employed (although lower-paid) than those of, shall we say, “Norway-like” countries.

This is one way the discovery of Cheddar Man’s skin colour could have the power to force aside the ahistorical lens with which we view our fellow humans.

At least for a few days.

via How Cheddar Man shatters accepted views of immigration | Toronto Star

A reckoning on Black people and marijuana is a long time coming: Paradkar

Important aspect with compelling arrest stats:

As the banned substance begins to burgeon into a multi-billion-dollar industry, the once-petty crooks, many of them Black, with the grassroots know-how of how to run the business and who could become contributing members of society, are once again being shut out because they have criminal records.

The government has talked about amnesty for past marijuana crimes that would mean erasure of those records. But it is unlikely to take any action until after legalization — and already, others with money have plunked their grubby fingers in this pie to make more money.

This includes, of course, that shameless hypocrite and former chief of multiple police forces Julian Fantino, who helped passed into law Bill C-10 that included mandatory minimum sentences on people for having as few as six plants.

On Friday, The Canadian Press reported that a group of frustrated lawyers in Toronto is considering a class-action lawsuit against the government to push it into granting cannabis amnesty.

They should just do it.

Some advocates are also seeking an apology.

A reckoning of the unfairness with which anything related to marijuana has been treated is a long time coming.

Even the usage of the word marijuana — which comes from Mexico—came into being during the Prohibition Era to warn off Americans by appealing to their xenophobic sensibilities with the suggestion that it could lead to the intermingling of races.

In Canada, too, marijuana has proven handy as a system of racial control. In July last year, the Star published an analysis of 10 years of Toronto police data — including two years when Fantino was police chief — to show that Black people with no history of criminal convictions were three times more likely to be arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people.

The users are Black and white at about equal rates, but the people behind bars are disproportionately Black.

More recently, the American experience shows that even in states where the plant is legalized, while overall numbers of arrests have plummeted, Black people are still arrested at higher rates.

Four times higher in Washington, D.C., 10 times higher in Alaska.

From Richard Nixon’s so-called “war on drugs” to Ronald Reagan’s drug war to Bill Clinton’s “tough on crime” laws, the crackdown on drugs has always been an assault on race.

The scholar Michelle Alexander points out in her seminal book The New Jim Crow that Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman recalled that Nixon “emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

The Reagan administration created an indelible link between drug abuse and Black people, she wrote in HuffPost. It hired staff whose responsibility it was “to publicize inner-city crack babies, crack mothers, crack whores, and drug-related violence.”

Clinton’s policies wrought the highest increase in number of people imprisoned.

But a change was coming. The face of drug users in the public imagination was getting lighter-skinned. Think Breaking Bad. Ozark.

“Changing attitudes and policies became possible in large part because the media was no longer saturated with images of Black and brown drug dealers,” Alexander said at a Drug Policy Reform conference in 2017. “The colour of drug users and dealers got whiter in the public imagination, and so we, as a nation, got nicer.”

Nicer in Canada would mean erasing criminal records without a fight, the flawed structure of the RCMP’s national criminal record database notwithstanding. That database can show whether someone has a record for possessing an illegal drug, but not necessarily which one, according to a report in Global News.

“That means that erasing marijuana possession (or trafficking) records could turn into a painstaking, manual process, involving searches in court and police archives across the country.”

No reason why people imprisoned for petty crimes should pay for the carelessness of those trafficking in power.

via A reckoning on Black people and marijuana is a long time coming | Toronto Star

Trump’s ‘s—hole countries’ remark casts remarkable light on immigration policies: Shree Paradkar

Implications of Paradkar’s arguments is that essentially we should have a completely open door rather than managed immigration programs.

And rather than only commentary, some numbers with respect to the Haitians in Canada who were obliged to leave after the 2014 change, versus regularizing their status, would be helpful:

However, the outrage also reveals a society more eager to be scandalized by the President’s words than upset by government actions that harm those same lives for whom they are purporting to demand respect.

Trump’s words on Haiti are particularly galling, given what its citizens have endured and American and Canadian modern roles in undermining that nation’s democracy.

Trump pulled the plug on a humanitarian program that allowed some 60,000 Haitians to remain in the U.S. under special immigration status while their homeland recovered from devastating disasters.

Canada cancelled its own program of giving Haitians special status and began asking Haitians to pack their bags in 2014 under Stephen Harper. That cancellation was completed in 2016, under Justin Trudeau with little fanfare.

Yet, Trudeau is the good guy of the global immigration crisis. Remember that viral tweet that was so celebrated after Trump moved to ban immigrants from Muslim-majority countries? “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”

Last year, poor Haitians who took Canadian goodness seriously, trying to cross unguarded points from the U.S. into Canada had the lowest acceptance rate — at 17 per cent — for asylum claimants between February and October.

Individual Canadians have been generous after the Haitian earthquake. More recently, Montrealers have been moved to help Haitian asylum seekers.

Still, the overall lack of indignation over the continued rejection of Haitians suggests a Canadian comfort with discriminatory attitudes so long as they’re not overt, Trump style.

via Trump’s ‘s—hole countries’ remark casts remarkable light on immigration policies | Toronto Star

Racist cyberattacks at U of T highlight barriers to addressing anti-Blackness: Shree Paradkar

Good long read by Paradkar on the ongoing use of the n-word among some at UofT:

Justice Huyer of BSA said, “There is a list of penalties (in the code of student conduct) that was not created by us. We demand they be upheld. That’s what is acceptable for us. And going forward we will accept nothing but a safe space for Black people on campus and to do better in terms of dealing with cases of racism.”

An adequate space where Black students can feel supported is one of the other demands of the BSA, which is also seeking funding toward an anti-Black racism campaign and for the National Society of Black Engineers program, which has no physical space at all. Its members are contactable only by email, Huyer said.

“We have LGBTQ positive spaces that have signs and invitations,” she said. “We have a First Nations House for Indigenous students to come together.

“But the Black Students’ Association, we have the third-largest student association on campus. We have a cubicle that is semi-private with glass windows in a basement that can hold approximately five people and we serve hundreds.”

The students say when they tried to raise the other issues at the meeting, the faculty didn’t engage with them. “We were just met with blanks stares. And kind of silence,” said Mark.

Then the faculty suggested another meeting, a move Mark sees as a “derailing tactic” to tire them out.

“There certainly have been discussions around (office) space issues for Black students,” Welsh said. “I think these are things we are talking about right now.”

It’s past time to still be in the discussion phase of these changes. And the university could extend some of its own solutions used for other marginalized groups.

At an orientation for international students on campus, the complainant who is anonymous, says, “We were taught about how the university is an LGBTQ-friendly space and we were made very aware of the fact that we needed to use neutral pronouns, that we needed to not be transphobic, not be queer phobic because a lot of our backgrounds are countries where homophobia is unfortunately the culture.

“There shouldn’t be a reason they can’t do that as well with anti-Blackness,” she said.

There shouldn’t be a reason they can’t do that with all students. An Asian Canadian, a South Asian Canadian and a white Canadian were involved in the N-word and digital Blackface messages, she said.

“We know anti-Black racism exists on our campuses and I know there is more that we can do to address it,” said Welsh. “We need to continue to listen — and hear — what are the concerns of our students, our faculty and our staff.”

“More than anything else, students are saying, we want to see change,” said Bain.

“We’re asking for something fundamental, something concrete. We want to see the institution itself start looking at the way it functions on a day-to-day basis.”

via Racist cyberattacks at U of T highlight barriers to addressing anti-Blackness | Toronto Star

To our inner Hadiya resisting workplace conformity, carry on. Just don’t keep calm: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Good column by Paradkar:

It’s fair to say that when “Black on Bay Street,” the piece by lawyer-turned-academic Hadiya Roderique in the Globe and Mail, went viral, it lit flames of #IAmHadiya in many of us, and not just those belonging to Bay St., not just lawyers and not just Black, even though the Black experience of racism is uniquely painful.

Roderique’s piece should once and for all silence the proponents of the politics of respectability — the idea that you won’t be discriminated against if only you pull up your socks, do the right thing — as in, do everything you can to fit in with “mainstream” culture.

Mainstream in this country is, of course, Anglo-Euro settler culture. The truth is no matter what marginalized individuals do to change, to fit in, to be just like everyone else in the workplace, most have to be brilliant to be considered good enough.

So how far should you go to try to fit in?

Roderique referenced diversity consultant Ritu Bhasin, who says in her book The Authenticity Principle, “there’s only so much conforming and masking we can do. It eats away at your spirit.”

Quite by chance I was reading the book when Roderique’s article appeared. I’m usually leery of self-help gurus whom I tend to see as dishing out quotable words of wisdom whose sole role is to land on eminently re-giftable Hallmark mugs.

But at one point in the book, whose subtitle declares it’s about resisting conformity and embracing differences, Bhasin, herself once a Bay St. lawyer, writes she realized how even being authentic can be a performance. I found that revelation honest. “I would try to signal ‘Look how real I am,’ ” she writes. “For example, I chose to wear bright colours in the business world to signal ‘I’m so anti-conformist.’ ”

Reading both these women revealed to me — a rank outsider to Bay St. types — what an anally retentive bunch the people who make big decisions must be if wearing bright colours is considered rebellious in their world. “I filled my arms with two colours,” Roderique wrote about suits she bought, “black to blend and the more daring light grey.”

Beyond clothing, though, conformity can be extracted in multiple ways. Do you shine at meetings? Do you laugh at the boss’s jokes? Do you toe the line with group think?

In order to not fall afoul of those narrow constraints, to a certain extent everybody adopts behaviours and habits that don’t come naturally — white men might, for instance, force an interest in golf.

But the more marginalized you are the more you have to contort your personality to fit those expectations. Women might tone down talk of motherhood, feign an interest in hockey, pretend to be extroverted, laugh at stupid jokes and even allow men to take credit for their ideas just to see those ideas in action.

Add colour to your skin or a scarf on your head or fluidity to your gender and workplace constraints begin to suffocate. At that point, you’re not just masking your likes and dislikes, or adjusting aspects of your personality.

What’s at stake are your values, your fundamental identity.

Bhasin says, as a child of immigrants, she learned at a young age to not act brown, but to act white. “By the time I ended up in the workplaces I had already learned how to switch codes and navigate through white male culture. The more I conformed, the more I was rewarded, and I succeeded … that continued to the point where I was living a binary life. So I was one way at work and evenings and weekends, living in a very different way. And ultimately I was profoundly unhappy.”

She talked to hundreds of women and found that, “my story is the story of people who come from marginalized communities. We’re taught to conform and that cannot be the way we live any longer.”

Embrace yourself, be yourself are great mantras. Yet, as Bhasin writes, even authenticity is a privilege.

“I have found that those with higher status, power and success are often better positioned to practice authenticity more consistently than others.”

There’s your chicken and egg — being true to who you are might liberate you to attain some social power, but until you’re powerful, you may not have the confidence — or the leeway — to be authentic.

So please, if you have the privilege to do so, carry on. Work out your own formula, make your choices, resist if you can.

Carry on, because you are unfairly burdened with the task of challenging the system. Carry on until leaders stop looking at “others” with a condescending gaze. Carry on until they exhibit openness to hiring practices people like Roderique are advocating, or change the framework of what they consider “successful.”

Carry on until sweeping systemic changes give everyone a fair chance. Just don’t keep calm, because that is one thing they’re definitely counting on.

via To our inner Hadiya resisting workplace conformity, carry on. Just don’t keep calm: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Wrangling over statement of principles shows lawyers far from challenging racism within: Paradkar, Contrary position of Alford

Shree Paradkar on the Ontario law society controversy over the obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion:

Although the motion was debated and passed in December 2016, it has been playing out like the pitched battles that spill out on digital media, when demands for equality are framed as violations of free speech, but this time with legalese — and legal action — thrown in.

“We think that the debate has been framed as freedom of expression and conscientious objection — in a vacuum,” said Shawn Richard, CABL president. “The question has to be asked — well, what are you conscientiously objecting to? You’re conscientiously objecting to reducing discrimination? You’re conscientiously objecting to promoting diversity? Inclusion? Equality?”

One law professor called the statement of principles an Orwellian dictate.

Another called it an unconstitutional compelled speech.

The law society says it is not policing lawyers’ thoughts or beliefs, it is asking that their conduct be in accordance to long-standing codes.

“It’s an obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, which is nothing more than the obligation lawyers have already,” Paul Schabas, the law society treasurer, told the Law Times.

Do the society’s rules spell this out? Apparently, it’s not just a matter of clicking Control F to find the right words. The injunction filed Monday says this obligation is not supported in the existing code of conduct.

The words “acknowledging” and “promoting” are causing most grief. On one side, “Why can’t lawyers simply acknowledge their obligation to equality?” On the other, “Why are they being told they have a duty to promote equality?”

Emphasizing an obligation to equality in a plan to fight racism is a step so mild it begs the question, why was it even made?

That came down to a question in a 2013 survey asking lawyers to rate their support of this statement:

“It is important to reduce discrimination, but the professional’s main responsibility is to the client and making sure they’re being served by competent lawyers and paralegals.”

This is an obviously problematic statement that linked competence to race. It suggests either you have a competent (white) lawyer or a racialized (incompetent) one.

Richard had a problem with it right away. “I don’t think reducing discrimination and being served by competent licensees is an either/or proposition, but the statement presumes that to be true.”

When a large majority of white and minority licensees either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with that statement, it showed Richard, “you have to start with what our obligations are.”

via Wrangling over statement of principles shows lawyers far from challenging racism within: Paradkar | Toronto Star

The contrary position, expressed by Ryan Alford:

A Law Society requirement meant to help combat systemic racism in the legal profession is facing major push-back.

Lakehead University law professor Ryan Alford filed paperwork in court Monday seeking an injunction to stop Ontario’s legal regulator from mandating that all lawyers and paralegals adopt a statement of principles indicating an obligation to promote inclusion and diversity.

In a notice of application filed in Superior Court, Alford said he is seeking a declaration from the court that the requirement is “contrary to the rule of law in that it lacks a proper legal foundation,” and is also not supported by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s own rules of professional conduct.

This move follows the announcement last month that Toronto lawyer Joe Groia, a member of the Law Society’s board of directors, would be bringing a motion at the December board meeting seeking an exemption for “conscientious objectors” to the requirement.

Both Alford and Groia have argued that the requirement is “compelled speech,” although they state that they believe in the values communicated by the statement of principles.

Alford said in court documents that he believes making the statement mandatory is a violation of a lawyer’s freedom of expression, and, therefore, is unconstitutional.

“The core of this case is the limits of governmental power,” Alford told the Star in an interview. “Because once the Law Society enacts regulations backed by sanctions, it is acting as the government.”

He said he hopes the Law Society voluntarily suspends the statement requirement until a court can rule on its constitutionality.

How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar

One can only wonder:

If a social debate is based on fuzzy ideas accumulated from something read somewhere, sometime, an academically published view is the antithesis of it, based on rigorous research, citations and knowledge. Before being published, it is peer-reviewed, or tested for accuracy and integrity by someone with subject matter expertise.

This process is at the heart of a controversy roiling the academic community after the Third World Quarterly, a reputable British journal on global politics, published a piece earlier this month titled “The case for colonialism” by Bruce Gilley, a Princeton University Ph.D and Portland State University professor.

(Although “third world” is now considered a derogatory term, the 40-year-old journal’s name derived from the non-aligned movement of countries who did not want to support either side of the Cold War.)

In his article, Gilley says colonialism has been unjustly vilified, that it was legitimate and its “civilizing mission” was in fact beneficial. He also writes that it is time to re-colonize parts of the world and create “new Western colonies from scratch” because developing countries are failing at self-governance and anti-colonial ideology was harmful to native populations.

The reaction was explosive, targeted at both the article and the journal’s decision to publish it. A petition calling for the article’s retraction gathered more than 10,000 signatures. On Tuesday, roughly half of the journal’s 34 editorial board members resigned in protest.

Two researchers writing for a London School of Economics blog called the piece “a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”

That it appeared in a respected journal devoted to anti-colonial politics, made it “the equivalent of a journal devoted to Holocaust studies publishing that the Holocaust didn’t happen,” according to Ilan Kapoor, a York University professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who was one of the board members who quit.

The primary problem, though, revolved around whether the piece published under the label “Viewpoint” passed the scholarship test for publication.

“As with all articles in the journal, this Viewpoint did undergo double-blind peer review and was subsequently published,” said Shahid Qadir, editor-in-chief of the quarterly in a statement.

In a double-blind review, the author’s and reviewer’s identities are withheld from each other.

The editorial board members say they asked for but didn’t get copies of the review. They also say the article was not passed, but rejected by three reviewers. (Qadir did not respond to my requests for comment on this.)

“The piece in question was rejected by two peers who were editors of a special issue on ‘Whatever happened to the idea of imperialism?’ and then it was further rejected by another peer,” said Lisa Ann Richey, a scholar from Denmark currently at Duke University in the U.S.

“There was a remedy available last week — to retract the piece and apologize for the gross error — and this remedy was not implemented by the editor. After this disappointing outcome, the only option available for anyone sitting on the Board who wanted to stand for academic integrity was to resign.”

Kapoor said, “This discrepancy between what the editor has told us and what we have found is highly problematic.”.

Meanwhile, the piece is being torn apart by academics on factual grounds.

“Gilley says he is simply asking for an unbiased assessment of the facts, that he just wants us to take off our ideological blinders and examine colonialism from an empirical perspective,” writes Nathan Robinson in a scathing piece in Current Affairs.

“But this is not what he has done. Instead … (he has concealed) evidence of gross crimes against humanity.”

For instance, he omits any mention of the first 300 years of Western colonization because it’s “impossible to spin it,” as beneficial to native populations, says Robinson. Or he quotes a Congolese man saying, “Maybe the Belgians should come back” and entirely bypasses Belgian King Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo that scandalized the world.

In the think tank Cato Institute’s blog, Sahar Khan gives five examples of how the piece is “empirically and historically inaccurate.”

For instance, “Gilley attributes the abolition of slave-trading to colonialism, which in addition to being ridiculous, is factually incorrect … Systematic decolonization and subsequent wars of independence eventually ended the slave trade.”

The unexplained publication of a piece that does not meet academic standards of quality should sound alarm bells for those of us outside the ivory towers, too.

The desire to appear even-handed under pressure from faux free-speech defenders has created a damaging false equivalency model in mainstream media, where the compulsion to get “the other side” means unfounded ideas are given the same weight as sound reasoning.

Despite the imperfections of academia, academically credited facts established with rigour, empirical evidence and scholarship remain a credible tool to fight climate change deniers, racism deniers, anti-vaxxers or any one floating in the universe of “alternative facts.”

Not condemning this attempt to Breitbart-ize academia will effectively wipe out the role of accountability in fact-gathering and remove any barriers to revisiting lasting atrocities of our past.

Source: How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar | Toronto Star