SOAN 2290 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Distinct Society, Flight Lieutenant, Aversive Racism

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Chapter 3: Fleras
Chapter 3 “Racism in Canada”
Questions to Ask Yourself throughout this chapter:
Is Canada a racist society? Why or why not?
Is a racist society the same thing as racism within a society?
Is Canada entering a postracism era?
For some Canada is inherently a racist society:
In design and outcomes with a thin veneer of tolerance that attempts to camouflage a pervasive
white superiority complex
Examples given are of a prominent academic from Queens university claiming that Canada is a
racist society in the Kingston Whig-Standard (2003) and a high-profile Aboriginal leader in the
Globe and Mail (2001) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada in regard to the # of
government jobs going to minority groups (2008)
For others Canada is a fundamentally sound society:
Raymond Chan former Multiculturalism Minister (2005) “ the least racist society in the world”
Many like to think Canada is largely colour-blind
Others believe that it depends on where you stand in the big picture
It depends on how broadly or narrowly racism in Canada is defined and conceptualized
What is meant by the word “racism”?
There are different kinds of racism
People experience racism differently
One’s experience or perception of racism may depend on time and place
Some people believe racism is about biology and race; others cultural differences
Signs of Canada’s multiculturalism and lack of racism:
Racism is relatively muted
Laws in place that criminalize racism
Terms like inclusivity, multiculturalism and equity are tossed around regularly
Aboriginal Canadians are no longer excluded from the political realm
First Nations have the rights to self-determination and autonomy
Similar to the Quebecois, who are virtually their own distinct society
Once predominantly Anglo centric cities, Toronto and Vancouver are now vibrant, cosmopolitan
United Nations has ranked Canada as the most liveable country in the world for 8 consecutive years,
currently its # 4
Unfortunately what shines in the distance looks lack-luster up close:
Racism is deeply embedded in Canada’s history, culture, laws and institutions although often in
more subtle ways
Canada was founded on the colonization of aboriginal people, dispossession of their lands and
resources, and extreme preferential treatment toward white European settlers
Minority was viewed as irrelevant or inferior and rejected/accepted on a hierarchy based on their
proximity to the French and English
5000 Ukrainians were placed in concentration camps during WWI
Same was done to Japanese-Canadians in British Columbia during WWII until 1949
The Klu Klux Klan was active and assumed a major profile in Canada in the 20’s and 30’s who
aimed its racist bile at blacks as well as Catholics, French-Canadians and Asians
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Also called the Kanadian Klan
Blacks also encountered segregation in schools, communities, housing and public events and venues
such as theatres and the armed forces
Example given of a man named Samuel Malcolm a black man from the Barbados who moved to
Canada at age four; he applied to and fought against the racism within the RCAF (Royal Canadian
Air Force) during WWII to be a pilot; he eventually moved his way up from being offered a job as
a waiter or menial worker to taking radar school and being a ground crew to retiring as a flight
2007 Sun Media report; sample of 3000 Canadians; conducted by Leger Marketing; confirmed that
47% of respondents self-identified as strongly (1%), moderately, or slightly racist while 66% of
racialized minorities indicated that they had experienced/been victimized by racial discrimination
Racism Discourses have changed as well:
Instead of framing racism as bad people with bad attitudes doing bad things to those less fortunate,
references to racism now include the following points of emphasis:
Proliferation of multi-racisms depending on the context and target group
Racism is a moving target rather than a stationary object
Racism as a process or activity rather than a thing
Racism as an attribute applied after the fact (unintended rather than deliberate)
Racism as structural and systemic rather than individual and attitudinal
Racism as power rather than prejudice
Racism as perspectival depending on where one is racially located in society
Racism is integral to Canada-building
Racism as a majority problem rather than a minority flaw
Basically: racism is less easy to identify now than it once was; this is especially important in terms
of authority and holding those accountable for racist beliefs and actions
Racism is on a Continuum:
Extreme Anti-Racist
Racists Activists
The majority of Canadians fall somewhere between the two.
Prejudice and discrimination:
Prejudice: ethnocentrism and stereotyping
Discrimination: including harassment
Theorizing Racism:
How can we have a lot of racism and very few racists? What is this paradox and how can it be
How can we have so many terms to describe something or someone that we claim is not an issue in
Canada? Or like to claim should I say?
Liberal racism, inferential racism, soft racism, new age racism, aversive racism
Laissez-faire racism, friendly racism, racism without race, colour-blind racism
Modern racism, experiential racism, democratic racism, reverse racism
Environmental racism, enlightened racism, cultural racism, the new racism
Deliberative racism, xeno-racism, Canadian racism
Considering the various and abundance of terms, is it safe to say that the profile of racism in Canada has
expanded not diminished?
Some food for thought:
Are incidents of racism and racial conflict increasing across Canada? Or are Canadians increasingly
repulsed by racism, with a growing willingness to report violations to proper authorities?
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