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Posts tagged "racism"


As my son is presenting his third grade project on Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s ‘colour line’ in 1947, I’m reminded of this recent interview with  Larry Kwong, the first Chinese Canadian to play in the NHL.  89 and still working out three times a week in Calgary, Mr. Kwong speaks of the thrill of playing against Maurice Richard, and the systemic racism he faced when trying to make it as a professional hockey player.


Two B.C. women will be asking Richmond city council to consider a policy that would limit how much Chinese can be displayed on business signs.

Kerry Starchuk and Ann Merdinyan have collected a petition with more than 1,000 signatures and spent months taking photos in preparation for their presentation on Monday, reported The Richmond News.

Starchuk’s mission began with letters to the editor of local newspapers. The women say that store signs in Richmond have increasingly become Chinese-only, or have very little English on them.

Of the 200,000 people who live in the Vancouver suburb, 45 per cent are Chinese, the highest rate in Canada.

Signs dominated by languages other than English or French are allowed in B.C. In contrast, signs and posters in Quebec must be in French but another language is allowed as long as the official language is predominant.

The pair want city council to implement a policy like one adopted by Aberdeen Centre, an Asian-style mall in Richmond. Store signs in the mall must be two-thirds in English or French while the remaining one-third can be in the language of the retailer’s choice.

Joey Kwan, Aberdeen’s promotion and public relations manager, noted to The Vancouver Sun this year: “To our surprise, based on an internal research, 70 per cent of the existing tenants don’t even have a Chinese name on their signage.”

In January, Joe Greenholtz, an immigration consultant and member of the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee argued that Chinese-only signage had nothing to do with multiculturalism and everything to do with business. He wrote in The Richmond News:

“The store owners are making a statement about the clientele they hope to attract — most of the stores I’ve wandered into with Chinese-only signs sell products that have no appeal for me and that I often can’t even identify.

It’s not about exclusionary practices, it’s a business decision about appealing to a defined demographic. Those who take offense at that, hiding behind the idea that it is somehow un-Canadian, or diminishes the capacity of immigrants to integrate, are feeling the pain of being irrelevant in their own backyards, for the first time.”

“This is not cultural harmony because I have no idea what these signs, advertising and the real estate papers are saying. We value Richmond and we value our Canadian identity and I hope that comes across with our presentation,” Starchuk told the Richmond newspaper on Friday.

In January, Vancouver Sun columnist Douglas Todd argued that English signs should prevail to “reduce the segregating effects caused by the rise of Canadian ethnic enclaves” and to encourages newcomers to learn English, which “contributes to their financial well-being.”

Oh, Canada, part II. Sigh.


Stories to Watch: 3/15/13.

Paul Ryan’s budget is just a massive redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. These people are freakin’ pirates and the less-than-wealthy people who vote for them are huge, huge chumps.

North Dakota passes the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Of course, it’s completely unconstitutional and won’t survive a court challenge, but if there’s one thing that say “fiscal conservatism,” it’s throwing money down a hole in defense of indefensible abortion laws.

A federal judge rules that gag-order imposing National Security Letters are unconstitutional. If you’re not familiar with NSLs, follow that link — and be glad someone in government has some damned sense.

Rob Portman’s conversion on marriage equality backs up a Republican stereotype; they only seem to take things seriously when those things affect them. Jonathan Chait also has thoughts along these lines — and Chait’s always worth a read.

Why is it when Republicans compare themselves to civil rights icons, the comparison is absurd, backwards, and offensively inapt.

WTF is Microsoft doing sponsoring CPAC? The Crazy People’s Action Conference might as well be named “Gaybashapalooza.” And the racism. Turns out a MS exec is a wingnut. Not a good enough excuse.

In his speech to CPAC today, Mitt Romney cast “jihadists” as global superpowers on par with China and Russia. Again, thank whatever force it is that you believe in that Mittens didn’t win in November. He would be the worst diplomat and statesman. We’re talking GWB bad.

Continuing with crazy-assed CPAC news, a panel on women’s issues discussed liberal sexism and all that terrible contraception and the “liberal indoctrination camp” that is the American education system. In the only sign of progress among the panelists, the word “slut” was not used once. Still, it’s all laughable horseshit that no one in their right mind will ever buy.

And finally, a last bit of Crazy People news: overheard at CPAC, “If only I’d brought my yacht I wouldn’t have to wait in that shuttle line.” For real. Thurston Howell III lives.

[cartoon via McClatchy Newspapers]



The fashion industry, like the film industry is notorious for excluding minority groups from photo shoots, or shows,  and favor certain “looks” (usually white) over others.

It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now
South Carolina Republican on why GOP oppose Obamacare (via think-progress)


SXSW: Who’s Making Money From Their YouTube? Not Black People

YouTube’s slogan is “broadcast yourself” and it’s been celebrated as the new media platform that will revolutionize how marginalized groups are presented in the media. But the network is not much different than old media—90 of the top 100 YouTube video creators are white and mostly male.

In 2009 YouTube launched what they call the Partner Program that allows some of the popular content owners to make money from the videos they uploaded to the video sharing site. YouTube will not say how much people are paid for their content but according to earning reports there are thousands of video content creators on YouTube who are making more than $100,000 a year.

Only two of YouTube’s top 100 personalities are black (DeStorm, Kingsley), according to Chase Hoffberger at who organized a panel at South by SouthWest called “YouTube and Racism.”

In the video above YouTube stars Franchesca Ramsey and Andre Meadows along with scholar Jenny Ungbha Korn discuss YouTube Racism and how black video content creators have to work much harder to be seen.


How Racism Is Bad for Our Bodies

 The researchers had each Latina student prepare a three-minute speech on “what I am like as a work partner” for their white partner. But before each student gave her speech, she read her partner’s responses — and, among other things, knew if the person evaluating her speech held racist beliefs. To monitor stress during the speech, the researchers hooked the speakers up to blood pressure cuffs and sensors to measure other cardiovascular data, including an electrocardiogram and impedance cardiography.

When Latina participants thought they were interacting with a racist white partner, they had higher blood pressure, a faster heart rate, and shorter pre-ejection periods. What this shows is an increased sympathetic response, or what is often called the “fight or flight response.” Merely the anticipation of racism, and not necessarily the act, is enough to trigger a stress response. And this study only involved a three-minute speech.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]


“Growing up black in China”

Really interesting piece for anyone who hasn’t seen this yet, especially given the tremendous amounts of racism this young woman, who is half black and half Chinese, faced when she vaulted into the national Chinese media spotlight.

Some of those sentiments included:

“You never should have been born!”

“Get out of China!”

It’s a sad story in some ways, but moving in how poised she remained in the face of all of that racist backlash.

(via angryasiangirlsunited)


Activist, Jane Elliott
Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you… you are in for a rude awakening.
In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott’s work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it. (X)
The Angry Eye: Part One & Part Two
How Racist Are You?: Part One, Part Two & Part Three


Activist, Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you… you are in for a rude awakening.

In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott’s work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it. (X)

The Angry Eye: Part One & Part Two

How Racist Are You?: Part One, Part Two & Part Three

(via womanistgamergirl)


Why there’s no such thing as “Reverse Racism”

Tim Wise just wrote a great diary on right wing racism. As usual, though, in the comments some folks started claiming that white folks could be the victims of “racism” too.  Even though I thought, from Tim’s article, that the impossibility of that was clear, it’s a point that’s very hard to get across.

Coincidentally, an ex-student of mine wrote to me last night and asked me to remind her of my explanation of the impossibility of “Reverse Racism” — she’s in an M.A. program and found herself in a heated argument with some of her peers.  So I wrote it down for her and sent it off.  I thought, though, that it might be a useful document to post on DailyKos, so here it is…

In any discussion of racism and it’s alleged “Reverse,” it’s crucial to start with the definitions of prejudice and discrimination, to lay the foundation for understanding racism in context.  There’s a reason these three terms exist, and a very good reason not to conflate them, as I’ll demonstrate below.

Prejudice is an irrational feeling of dislike for a person or group of persons, usually based on stereotype.  Virtually everyone feels some sort of prejudice, whether it’s for an ethnic group, or for a religious group, or for a type of person like blondes or fat people or tall people.  The important thing is they just don’t like them — in short, prejudice is a feeling, a belief.  You can be prejudiced, but still be a fair person if you’re careful not to act on your irrational dislike.

Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice.  This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation.  Or even because of their looks (there’s a lot of hiring discrimination against “unattractive” women, for example).  You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you’re in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against.  White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people if, for example, one is the interviewer and the other is the person being interviewed.

Racism, however, describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as “normal” throughout an entire culture. It’s based on an ideological belief that one “race” is somehow better than another “race”.  It’s not one person discriminating at this point, but a whole population operating in a social structure that actually makes it difficult for a person not to discriminate.  

A clear cut example is a slave-holding culture:  people are born into a society where one sort of person is “naturally” a master, and another sort of person is “naturally” a slave (and sometimes not considered a person at all, but a beast of burden).  In a culture like that, discrimination is built into the social, economic and political fabric, and individuals — even “free” individuals — don’t really have a choice about whether they discriminate or not because even if they don’t believe in slavery, they interact every day with slaves and the laws and rules that keep slaves bound.  

In a racist society, it takes a special act of courage and willingness to subject oneself to scandal or danger to step outside that system and become an abolitionist. It’s not the “fault” of every member of the master class that slavery exists, and some might wish it was gone.  But the fact is that every single member of the master class benefits from the unpaid labor of slaves at every level of society because they simply can’t avoid consuming the products that slavery produces, or benefiting from the exploitation of slave labor.  So unless members of the master class rise up and oppose the system and try to overthrow it (abolitionists, for example), they’re going to be complicit in the slave system: even abolitionists will profit — against their will — in the slave system because they still have to wear clothes or use other things the system produced.

The above is an extreme, clear example, which I use to make it easier to see the fuzzier, more complex situations in which we operate today.  Despite the fact that slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, and that the 14th Amendment gave African Americans voting rights, the institutional structures of racism were not overturned.  Even after the 14th was passed, white people still had the power to prevent black people from voting by instituting the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and the “understanding” clause which required blacks to recite any segment of the Constitution the registrar wanted them to recite.  In the Sixties, the Civil Rights Voting Acts were passed, which knocked down those obstacles to voting. But black Americans still do not have political power in proportion to their presence in the population (even though there’s a black President).

If you look at important voting bodies like the Federal and the State senates and congresses, or at the Federal and State supreme courts, or at the CEO list of major corporations, or at any other body that wields substantial power in the U.S., you will count only a few black faces (and in some cases, none).  Out of the number of black faces you count, most of them will not be representing the views of the majority of black people in this country, but the views of the white majority.  On the other hand, if you count the number of black people in poverty, and in prisons, or the number of people who are unemployed or lack health care, there are far more black people in these categories than is proportionate to their numbers in the larger society.

Unless you are going to argue that blacks are “naturally” inferior to whites (which is an outright racist position), you have to admit that there is some mechanism that is limiting black opportunity. That’s the mechanism we call “racism” — the interacting social, political, and economic rule systems that all discriminate, either overtly (racial profiling, for example) or covertly (i.e., white majority governments redrawing district voting lines so that black majority areas are politically split up and don’t have the electoral power to vote in black candidates; or, white-run banks using zip codes as a criteria for excluding people who apply for loans, and just “happening” to exclude all the majority black neighborhoods in a city, a practice called “red-lining”).  One could go on for hours about these various mechanisms, and I’m sure you can think of plenty on your own which discriminate against blacks, Hispanics, “Arab-looking” people, Native Americans, & so on.

Now to “Reverse Racism.”  It’s crucial to maintain the distinction between the above three terms, because otherwise white people tend to redefine “Discrimination” as “Racism”.  Their main argument is that because both blacks and white can discriminate against each other, that “Reverse Racism” is possible.  But the truth of the matter is that black people: 1) have far less opportunity to discriminate against whites than whites have to discriminate against blacks, overall; and 2) black people lack a system of institutionalized support that protect them when they discriminate against whites.  

It took black and white people working together for one hundred years to get programs like Affirmative Action installed in the U.S., but it took one white man (Alan Bakke) only a single Supreme Court case to get those programs dismantled because he felt he didn’t gain entry into medical school based on his white race.  

“Reverse Racism” would only describe a society in which all the rules and roles were turned upside down. That has not happened in the U.S., however much white right wing ideologues want to complain that they’re being victimized by the few points of equality that minorities and women have managed to claim.  White people who complain about “Reverse Racism” are actually complaining about being denied their privileges, rather than being denied their rights.  They feel entitled to be hired and not to be discriminated against, even though the norm is white people discriminating against blacks. If, in a rare instance, a black employer discriminates against a white job applicant, that’s not “reverse” anything — it’s simple discrimination.  It’s to be condemned on principle, but it’s not evidence of some systematic program by which whites are being deprived of their rights.  

The right wing popularized the term “Reverse Racism” because they were really angry at having their white privileges challenged. Anyone who uses that phrase, whether they are right wing or not, furthers the right wing’s cause.  This is what I tell Democrats and progressives who I hear using the term — not only are they being inaccurate, but they’re helping out their opponents.

The above arguments can be applied to any institutionalized structure of oppression, affecting any race, ethnic or religious group, and can be used to to oppose claims of “Reverse Sexism” too.

I hope that clarifies things a bit.

The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.

But much worse, it haunts black people with a kind of invisible violence that is given tell only when the victim happens to be an Oscar winner. The promise of America is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of the “middle class,” will be treated as such. But this injunction is only half-enforced when it comes to black people, in large part because we were never meant to be part of the American story. Forest Whitaker fits that bill, and he was addressed as such.

I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark. It is worth considering the messaging here. It says to black kids: “Don’t leave home. They don’t want you around.” It is messaging propagated by moral people.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Good, Racist People,” 3/6/13 (via racialicious)

(via 18mr)





Imagine a wall full of circular holes, that circles can keep walking in and out of with no difficulty.

Now imagine that the triangles manage to get the resources together, after years of not being able to fit through the circle’s holes, to drill a single triangle space into the wall.

Now imagine that the circle — who previously supported the triangle’s efforts because they are well-rounded (har) and value equality —  comes along and sees the construction project. But instead of being happy, they get angry.

“Well, I won’t be able to fit through your hole!!!!” the circle cries.

“I helped you get the drill!!!!” the circle shrieks.

“Make it fit me too!!!!” the circle demands.

The triangles, barely holding it together enough to get a triangle hole together, stare at the circle in confusion. 

“You have all the holes you need,” the triangles explain. “This is for us. You don’t need to fit through our hole, too.”


“It’s not your drill, it’s our drill. You helped us get it, because you said you cared.”


“Why is it up to us, the small group that has never been able to fit through the wall at all, to make a hole everyone can use? Why isn’t it up to you, the people who have been able to cross back and forth at will for years? We just want to see the other side; why are you yelling at us?”


“You are interfering with our project and asking us to comfort you while we’re trying to make progress. Please leave.”

“I’m going to tell everyone about this,” the circle warns. “Nobody will support you now.”

“Apparently nobody ever did,” the triangles sigh, getting back to work.

It’s kind of sad

That we have to draw comics using colorful shapes

To explain systematic inequality to people

(via thisiswhiteprivilege)


white people! stop doing this, for the love of whatever you hold dear.

it’s not funny. it’s not even clever. it’s just lazy (it’s a dumb joke) and abusive (it’s a dumb pun whose entire joke rests on “nigga/nigger please”) and stupid (it doesn’t mean anything, except that jessica nigri wanted some way to play on the word nigger because she’s ~edgy~.).

if it would get you slapped if you said it in front of an actual black person (or whichever race it is you’re taking advantage of for your stupid joke) leave it out, bro. do better. be better.

(via comicsalliance)


Hi my name is Rob, and like many of you who will likely end up needing this guide, I am a white person. This guide is for those of you here who may have been accused of racism for your actions.

The Situation
There are a few ways you may end up in this situation. They are likely one of two possibilities, though your personal situation may vary:

- You did something not realizing it was racist. Maybe you thought it was funny, or that it wasn’t offensive. This guide is to help you understand why things aren’t as they seem and help you react in a way that won’t embarrass your fellow white people any further.
- You did something intentionally offensive because you are, in fact, racist and you feel no shame over this. If this is the case, there is a possibility that you may be, in fact, a terrible person! Uh oh! I would advise that you not continue with this guide, as you are not the target audience. I would suggest you think harder about some of the decisions you have made in your life.
Racism: What’s the Deal??
So now we’ve hopefully narrowed it down to those of you who are confused about the allegation. “I’m not racist,” you’re thinking. Maybe you have A Black Friend, or maybe you aren’t even a white person. “I don’t hate anyone; I’m not some KKK member!” The list of responses is quite long. But racism is more complicated than you think; you may even be accused of doing something racist but not necessarily being hateful or racist yourself. Racism is often institutionalized and normalized to the point where you don’t recognize it.

So What Do I Do?!
Calm down, this isn’t the end of the world. This may actually be the beginning of an important transformation for you from ignorant to more aware. Neat, huh? Follow this guide and things may become clearer. The first thing to consider is…
- Stop talking. You’re upset and defensive. Nobody likes being called a racist, except those racist people from earlier who hopefully left by now! When you’re upset like this, you might say something dumb. In fact, the next thing you need to do is…
- Listen! The person who called you racist may very well be explaining at this moment why what you did was wrong. They are usually among those you have offended, and that is why you should hear them out. If the group of people affected says that what you did is offensive, they would know, because they are the ones offended. What if you’re not sure what you did wrong?
- Ask politely. If you’re not sure what you did wrong, inquire in a way that is not offensive and abrasive. However… Don’t expect them to explain everything. After all, although this person pointed out your racist actions, it is not their job to be a representative for an entire group of people. Their purpose in life is not to be your personal guide to racism, unless they are actually volunteering to inform you more. If you are reading this, you are on the Internet, so I suggest you…
- Do some research. Find out more about the group of people offended and the history behind your unknowing actions. There are many sources out there whom have made it their business to educate and inform people, and all you need are some metaphorical “ears for listening.” You can learn a lot by listening to those affected, and…
- Don’t tell them how to feel. It’s not your job to tell someone what they can and cannot be offended by! If someone says what you did hurt them, then that is all that matters. All you can do is…
- Try to understand. You can’t put yourself in that person’s shoes and relive their personal experiences. What you can do is be empathetic. With all that listening and researching you’ve hopefully done, you might be able to understand a bit about why what you did was wrong. If so, you hopefully feel remorse and are ready to…
- Apologize. Hey, nobody likes to be wrong, but part of life is being wrong. It happens. It is the first step to not being wrong about a particular thing in the future! Your past self may have done something dumb, but your present and future self learned a valuable lesson.
How Does I Apologized?
Be genuine and polite. A template to follow may be: “I am sorry for my actions. I did not mean any offense by them, and did not realize I was doing something wrong. I understand now and will not do it again.” Don’t use those exact words, maybe, but you hopefully have the idea.
What you’re doing is…
- Saying you’re sorry
- Acknowledging your reasons as ignorance, not hate
- Saying you did not mean any harm
- Showing understanding of the problem
What you’re not doing is…
- Arguing
- Telling the person they’re wrong or don’t understand.
- Saying even more racist things
So… What Now?
Congratulations! If you used this guideline properly, hopefully this has all been sorted out and your white ignorance factor has decreased a bit. Keep in mind what you’ve learned today and hopefully it won’t happen again. Keep it up and you can be like the rest of us:


(via thisiswhiteprivilege)