Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Using racism to combat racism

Perhaps I am getting to be a cranky old white guy, but I find myself grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw every time I read one of those progressive-left social commentaries pointing to racism as the big problem in our society. I read another one of these today in the Toronto Star.

Avvy Go, who is self-described as the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, rattles on and on about “racialized communities”, claiming that poverty can really only be addressed through the prism of racial analysis. Go uses the term racialized no less than 14 times in an 800 word article. Nowhere does Go explain racialized except by implication in this paragraph:

Ask any member of a racialized community who lives in poverty why they are poor and they will likely begin with the problems they have accessing good jobs or getting a promotion because of their race. They will talk about the invisible glass ceiling that seems to preserve the highest paid jobs for whites only.

I suppose we can take it from this that anybody who is non-white is racialized. Which means that you are a racist because your parents had a night of passion and were both white when they got it off. After all, people cannot be racialized by anybody except racists, who, in Go’s universe, are all whites.

Go has probably never experienced, as I have, the disdain some black people from Bermuda and Trinidad express towards Jamaicans. Ditto Korean, Chinese and Japanese attitudes towards blacks and Filipinos. I once had a dinner with a Saudi diplomat and his wife who had no use for Indians and Pakistanis, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia would grind to a halt if those people weren’t there to keep economy running. I could go on in this fashion, but what’s the point?

Those of Go’s persuasion are on a mission to pull down white people and it wouldn’t do to let inconvenient truths get in the way of ideology. It is ironic how people who claim to be combating racism express themselves in such racist terms, as if it it’s quite alright to denigrate whites (after all, they have broad shoulders, as well as lots of money!). The Ontario Human Rights Commission does the same thing on its website, never clueing into the fact that it is breaching through its preaching the statutory protections against discrimination because of race that it is supposed to be upholding.

Go’s “proof” that whites are racists rests mainly on some raw Statistics Canada data about lower income levels of recent immigrants (immigrants = racialized communities) compared to their white Canadian counterparts.

There could be many reasons why there is a disparity in income levels that would have something to do with factors other than race.

As just one example, 85% of all jobs are filled as a result of knowing somebody and getting references from people who can influence your career. It is connections that count more than anything and the higher up the income ladder you go the more these become important. Clearly a native born white Canadian will have a better networking system than a recent immigrant. For sure, the immigrant is at a disadvantage and something needs to be done to balance the problem, but is it constructively dealt with by calling the white person, who has done nothing more than utilize his networks, a racist?

It is also probably true, generally, but not always, that white native born applicants for those jobs in which they are competing with qualified immigrants for whom English is not the first language will have a better command of the language. Is it racist for an employer to prefer a candidate with better English skills, or is it just practical? Again, this language problem needs to be addressed, but calling the employer a racist isn’t going to help.

To racialize a whole community as racist, as Go has done, is completely counterproductive to finding a solution to the poverty or disadvantage of others.

After all, what possible solution could be achieved by using Go’s prism: are white people simply to give up their jobs to visible minorities and accept unemployment and poverty as their just lot in life; are they to dismantle their networks, deceptively and deliberately speak poor English during job interviews, or what?

Go doesn’t offer us any glimmer of what this racial analysis will achieve that would be better than other ways of attacking the problem of poverty. It just scapegoats one segment of society.

I hope that OHRC Commissioner, Barbara Hall, and Avvy Go won’t be too upset or surprised to learn that I am personally quite upset to be held in such contempt by them because of my race.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like cranky old white guys! My advice to you, if you want to lead a long and healthy life, is to stop reading the Toronto Star! It's probably worse for your blood pressure than eating 10 McRibs while smoking a dozen filterless cigarettes. It's a small mercy that in these dark times of the rule of the p.c. tyrants,there are a few journalistic voices of dissent, mainly in the National Post.

Your points are well taken -- I was just reading Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. When she went to school in Kenya,she was appalled by the prejudice among the students:'every ethnic group was clearly distinct and splintered along lines of class and tribe." (pg.68) The racism she describes is eye-opening,yet none of it involved 'white' people.