Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy

While polling data is important, I find blind cv tests (Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options) and hate crime stats (StatsCan police reported as per the above charts) to be better indicators of racism and discrimination.

Under-estimating racism and discrimination is as much a risk as over-estimating:

It’s virtually impossible in a lifetime to avoid interaction with an extremist — including the activist that Hiebert says regularly shows up at Vancouver anti-racism events, where he eagerly hands out xenophobic leaflets.

When Hiebert conducted a survey years ago that tried to identify Canadians hostile to others, he found only two to three per cent fit the bill as out-and-out racists.

Even though the Vancity report tries to go further and advise British Columbians to “combat” their own “subconscious bias,” the credit union’s officials seem unaware the concept of “unconscious racism” has been criticized even by psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, who invented the term.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is among those worried about the exaggeration of racism. Even though B.C. was home to some racism decades ago, Dosanjh said many now trot out the label to make themselves look good or to stifle debate.

Ethnic Chinese leaders in B.C., including Albert Lo, Justin Fung and Clarence Cheng, have also warned about the divisiveness of inaccurately claiming racism, particularly in a province struggling with unaffordable housing, foreign capital and unequal wealth.

Could the world really be so wrong about Canada and B. C.? A Gallup poll conducted in more than 50 countries discovered 84 per cent believe Canadians are “tolerant of others who are different,” the highest ranking of any country.

China, Russia and India were at the bottom of the list. Fewer than 34 per cent of global respondents rated residents of those major immigrant-source countries as tolerant.

Indeed, discrimination cuts unpredictably across cultures. A 2016 Angus Reid survey found recent immigrants to Canada were slightly less likely than native-born people to accept homosexuals, or approve of “marrying someone from a different cultural or religious background.”

So, are British Columbians accepting of diversity?

There is no simple answer. It appears the vast majority are highly respectful of difference, while a relative few are not.

Environics Institute pollster Keith Neuman answers the question about a region’s acceptance levels by quoting the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has become known for warning of the “danger of a single story.”

And it’s hard to think of a more treacherous single story about B.C. than the one alleging racism is alive and well.

Source: Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy | Vancouver Sun

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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