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

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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

Islamophobia is not colour blind: Paradkar

Good commentary on the intersection between religious and ethnic/racist discrimination and useful reminder of the Runnymede Trust’s definition of Islamophobia:

This week, the House of Commons heritage committee enters the second phase of M-103, the motion to combat Islamophobia, and begins a study on systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada.

Its report card will hopefully contain two outcomes: Strategies to combat systemic racism, and a definition of Islamophobia that will place it in the context of Canadian laws as well as overall racism in the country.

For the latter, committee members would do well to examine a new paper out of Rice University in Texas titled, “The Racialization of Islam in the United States: Islamophobia, Hate Crimes, and ‘Flying while Brown.’ ”

“We often hear that because Muslims are not a race, people cannot be racist for attacking Muslims,” sociologist and study author Craig Considine is quoted saying in the University’s media statement. “This argument does not stack up. It is a simplistic way of thinking that overlooks the role that race plays in Islamophobic hate crimes.”

Islamophobia is not colour blind.

In the U.S., some 30 per cent of Muslims describe themselves as white, 23 per cent as Black, 21 per cent as Asian, 6 per cent as Hispanic, and 19 per cent as other or mixed race, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Yet, nearly all Muslim racial or ethnic groups have higher odds of reporting one or more types of perceived discrimination than white Muslims, a 2016 study showed.

“Islamophobia does not belong in the realm of ‘rational’ criticism of Islam or Muslims; it is often discrimination against people who look different to the majority of U.S. citizens,” Considine says in the paper.

If “Driving While Black” is anti-Black racial profiling, “Flying While Brown” is anti-Muslim racial profiling leading to humiliating searches and detentions.

In any case, both are ineffectual at stopping crime or terrorism, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Canada has seen hate crimes against Muslims increase by 253 per cent in four years, according to a Statistics Canada report, with 45 crimes reported in 2012 and 159 in 2015.

I doubt the haters were religious scholars who had a rational critique of Islam.

Yet, attempting to condemn Islamophobia itself is seen as an attempt to stifle free speech and any criticism of the religion.

Casual anti-Islamic expressions are dotted with annoyance of visible religious markers such as head scarves on women, or an intangible fear of Sharia law, supposedly barrelling down on poor, unsuspecting us to blanket our society in darkness.

This fear that Muslims are conspiring to either destroy or dominate the West explains the hostile reception to M-103, which was a motion to speak out against discrimination.

This, although Liberal MP Iqra Khalid who brought forward the motion said quite clearly, “M-103 is not an attempt to create Sharia. I vow to oppose any law that threatens our multicultural society.”

The non-binding motion passed in March this year.

Reasonable people would shun the idea of violence against anyone based on their race or religious belief. But what is a fair critique of religion and what constitutes hate speech?

I see Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism against predominantly brown and black-skinned people but with an added edge. Not just of superiority but also the righteous anger of fending off a menacing culture incapable of compatibility with others. It’s the conflation of all Muslims with terrorists, or impatience with cultural practices, or anger against those seen as hailing from a backward culture incapable of debate within itself.

In its 1997 report “Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All,” a British left-leaning think tank, The Runnymede Trust, defined Islamophobia as the unfounded and close-minded fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims or Islamic/Muslim culture.

It identified eight components of Islamophobia, one of which included seeing it as violent, threatening or supportive of terrorism. Another included viewing it as primitive or barbaric or sexist. Using anti-Muslim hostility to exclude or discriminate against Muslims was, of course, one of the components.

Stereotyping has a lot to do with this.

Considine found that out of more than 1,000 Hollywood films depicting Arabs, 932 negatively stereotyped them. For example, Arabs/Muslims were constructed as the ominous figure: “the bearded, dark-skinned, turban-wearing terrorist guided by perceived archaic religious practices.”

This would help explain why a dark-skinned, turban-wearing Sikh man such as NDP leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh had to fend off a ranting Islamophobe at a campaign rally. Or why a Inderjit Singh Mukker, a 53-year-old Sikh taxi driver near Chicago was beaten and bruised by a man who called him “Bin Laden” and told him to go back to his own country.

You don’t have to be Muslim to be vilified. Just being Muslim-like is enough. This is textbook racialization.

Source: Islamophobia is not colour blind: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Conrad Black’s rubbish column on racism a fine example of white privilege: Paradkar

Appropriate takedown of Black’s earlier column (Conrad Black: Racism is dying, yet hateful people are still frequently accusing non-racists of it):

Many who never experience racism view it as a now shunned but once socially acceptable reality of a bygone era, kind of like smoking in the ’60s.

In line with that thinking, Black draws on history to say “most whites considered non-whites inferior, most Chinese considered non-Chinese inferior . . . I and a very large number of readers remember the murder of millions of Chinese and Cambodian and Vietnamese non-communists, and of Rwandans and Sudanese of a minority tribe or religion.”

This reduction of racism to “We all have prejudices,” springs from a half-baked understanding of the subject. It creates false equivalence between groups, just like Trump did with “all sides” at Charlottesville.

It results in ideas such as reverse racism — “racism against whites is acceptable,” Black says.

I’m not surprised when ordinary people shoot off such ideas in their emails to me. I am disappointed, however, when a rich white man with the privilege and authority to open minds instead normalizes ignorance.

All humans have prejudices and biases, of course they do. Humans discriminate. But racism isn’t just about human bias — it’s bias in the context of societal and historical power dynamics. It is also about supremacy, or the discrimination that is stitched into a socio-economic system that privileges one identity above others. In India, for instance, it benefits upper caste Hindus. In Singapore, it benefits Chinese. In Britain, it privileges men who attended private schools.

In North America and many parts of the world, thanks to colonialism, it benefits whites.

In my reading of them, serious newspapers no longer publish columns by men saying sexism is a relic of the past, or that glass ceilings are a feminist invention. Yet, such stories on racism by white people are allowed because delegitimizing progress on that front aligns with the interests of the existing racial hierarchy.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand,” said the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1857. “It never did and it never will.”

I understand when working-class whites chafe at the concept of white privilege. What privilege, if you’ve just lost a job and there are mouths to feed? I suspect some views would soften if they knew white privilege just means that in their exact same circumstance, a darker-skinned person is likely to be worse off.

But when rich white people deny racism, it suggests white power is threatened. They attempt to derail advances by dictating the terms of conversation.

Increasingly this is taking the form of discussions around, “Does racism exist?” It’s in their interest to keep everyone debating on square one rather than move on to, “What are we doing about it?”

Source: Conrad Black’s rubbish column on racism a fine example of white privilege: Paradkar | Toronto Star

NGOs tell UN panel Canada is failing on racism: Paradkar

Shree Paradkar reports on the NGO critique of Canada’s record in combatting racism (Debbie Douglas of OCASI, Avvy Go of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Shalini Konanur, of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario).

While their points are largely valid, they portray a completely bleak picture when surely the reality is more nuanced. This may be the nature of the process when their role is to prevent an alternative view to the more positive portrayal of the government response.

But it is surprising, given that all three are Ontario based, that they do not mention the province’s anti-racism strategy as an example that the federal government should emulate.

And surely, is the change of federal language towards diversity and inclusion, the increased diversity of appointments, and other policy initiatives of the current government not worthy of note, while allowing for criticism where needed?

Every day when I read news from around the world, I have occasion to feel thankful to be in Canada.

Yet, I was surprised this weekend to hear many Canadians, revolted by the events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va., say: At least we’re not as bad. In reality, our history, too, involves slavery, indentured labour, brutal oppression and colonization. Our country, too, has thriving right-wing extremism.

It’s not Canadian to be flashy and to shout out our deeds from the rooftops. The flip side of this modesty is, when history judges those actions to be misdeeds, we are able to dismiss them as trivial because they were not as glorified as they were down south.

The dismissal allows us to masks the past and ease our collective conscience.

It’s precisely a recognition of those past misdeeds, their present consequences and a reckoning of current laws that a group of prominent Canadian NGOs are seeking in Geneva Monday, when they ask a UN body to hold Canada’s feet to the fire for failing to keep its promises to end discrimination.

The Colour of Poverty — Colour of Change and its members are asking the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to recognize how Canada has “failed to comply with its international human rights obligations . . . and domestic human rights laws.”

“Racism is a matter of life and death,” for Indigenous peoples, their joint statement says, citing dismal socio-economic health indicators, suicides, murders and disappearances of thousands of people.

Both Indigenous and Black people are disproportionately poor and disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

“This is not the first time we brought this concern to the CERD committee, and yet very little has changed in more than a decade of our submitting shadow reports,” said Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

The NGOs are calling for a national action plan on racism for Canada that would commit to combating discrimination in hiring, and funding anti-racist organizations.

Chiefly, it is seeking the collection of “disaggregated” data across all government departments.

This kind of data collection that specifies identities such as race, gender or disability is the minimum Canada needs so it can measure the impact of its policies whether in health or housing or jobs.

How do you try to solve a problem when you can’t quantify it?

“For instance,” says Avvy Yao-Yao Go, clinic director at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, “Under the Federal Employment Equity Act, the federal government has data on the representation of women, ‘visible minority,’ Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities in the federal public service.

“However, we do not know, for instance, of the “visible minority” categories, what are the percentages for people of African descent versus people of Chinese descent versus people of South Asian descent. Or under (the category of) women, how many are women of colour and from which communities.” [Comment: Actually we do from census data – see my Federal Employment Equity and Religious Minorities in the Public Service)]

Or, take Canada’s immigration law that allows people detained for immigration purposes to be detained indefinitely. More than 6,000 people were held in 2016-17, the agencies say, although more than 90 per cent of them were not considered a security threat.

“We recently participated in a case in federal court that sought to challenge indefinite detention,” says Shalini Konanur, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

“During that case we spoke with several detainees, and the vast majority were racialized. Currently, there is no race-based data being collected about detainees but we know anecdotally that racialized persons in Canada are disproportionately impacted by indefinite detention.”

The NGOs also want the federal and provincial government to remove barriers to the recognition of international training, and to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to stop discrimination based on police data.

They are drawing attention to domestic laws that discriminate against specific groups.

In addition to immigrant detainees affected by law, migrant farm workers and caregivers such as nannies — the majority of whom are people of colour — are also vulnerable.

Migrant agricultural workers do not have access to permanent resident status. As for caregivers, their once guaranteed pathway to permanent residence was revoked in 2014.

Both groups have their work permit tied to a specific employer leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

“While migrant workers contribute to social entitlement programs in Canada, their temporary status largely precludes them from accessing these programs,” said Amy Casipullai, an OCASI staffer.

The UN committee is expected to release its review on Aug. 25.

Source: NGOs tell UN panel Canada is failing on racism: Paradkar | Toronto Star