Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grab Your Lamb Curry and Halal Chicken Biryani and Move West

image Saskatchewan is experiencing a boom.  Currently it is estimated that there is a shortage of 10 thousand people per sector.  In fact western Canada is apparently where "its at" right now.  You cannot watch a night of Canadian programing without some form of advertising for a job west of Ontario.  The oil sands alone, in Alberta, have drained many small towns in Nova Scotia of its male citizenry. Now that the traditional poor white workers have been lured away by the potential to raise their standard of living, to the middle class lifestyle all Canadians feel that we are entitled to, Saskatchewan is appealing to immigrants.

According to the Globe and Mail, Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall hosted a image barbecue of lamb curry and halal chicken biryani in one of Toronto's mostimage "multicultural neighbourhoods", Thorncliffe Park.  Don't you just love the term multicultural neighbourhood...yeah me too, it's a catchy code to describe a neighbourhood that white people are too rich to live in.  Unless of course they are "poor white trash", who only live there because they have not managed to cash in on white privilege.  Either way, anyone residing in that area is stigmatized by class. 

Mr.Wall took good care to point out to the immigrants (read: bodies of colour) that racism effects their ability to achieve upward mobility in large urban centres like Toronto.  Really, no shit Sherlock.  Of course immigrants don't realize that it is racism when they are turned away from jobs despite being more experienced because of a lack of Canadian credentials. They are so educated but yet they supposedly have no idea that class, race and in some cases gender, are intersecting to keep them in their beloved "multicultural neighbourhoods."

Well Mr.Wall has the solution for all of their problems.  If they are willing to give up the security of living in an area with large masses of people to whom they have an ethnic link, prosperity is available in the great white west.  With such a shortage of labour the west is willing to open its arms to Torontos disenfranchised bodies of colour.  I am all aglow with the generosity.

Certainly as a nation we should not take positive steps to end racism, because if we actually did manage to reduce it in any tangible way, who would we exploit when we have a labour shortage?  Having disposable bodies is a national priority. It is necessary to the social construction of Canadian identity image to maintain the illusion of a white country; and therefore new immigrants, and all people of colour born under the maple leaf, are repressed to forestall any demand to acquire the same  economic potential, as those white bodies born with race and class privilege.  Oh Canada, our home and native land.

(Editors Note: The term poor white trash was intentional to point out that white privilege is mitigated but not eliminated by class)


29 comments:

Ouyang Dan said...

Well if he just throws in some roasted duck and pancakes he can draw people from Vancouver too! *faceslap*

Honestly. I cringe to think of the thought trains that occur in the heads of some of these people when they look in the mirror and say to themselves "I'm a genius! This is a great idea!".

eternal-llama said...

**It is necessary to the social construction of Canadian identity image to maintain the illusion of a white country;**

Is that really what's happening? It doesn't help that there are Canadians who believe that there isn't racism in Canada either and this idea of multiculturalism contributes to that. I think it's one of the downsides of living in such close proximity to the US; have you ever gotten the impression from other Canadians that racism is, for the most part, a US problem? Because we're a "cultural mosaic" and not a "melting pot"?

eternal-llama said...

**It is necessary to the social construction of Canadian identity image to maintain the illusion of a white country;**

Is that really what's happening? It doesn't help that there are Canadians who believe that there isn't racism in Canada either and this idea of multiculturalism contributes to that. I think it's one of the downsides of living in such close proximity to the US; have you ever gotten the impression from other Canadians that racism is, for the most part, a US problem? Because we're a "cultural mosaic" and not a "melting pot"?

AR said...

This is a prime example of how capitalism naturally punishes bigotry. In a free market, there are always costs to such discrimination that, in times of need, eventually overcome people's desire to maintain the status quo. Bigotry occurs most easily when the market is not free, as when, for instance, state-backed labor unions (more accurately, labor cartels) and price floors on labor prohibit the employment of people willing to work for less who are, surprise surprise, almost never the preferred group of the powers that be. Thus they are instead turned away in favor of more expensive, privileged workers.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

Unless of course they are "poor white trash", who only live there because you [they] have not managed to cash in on white privilege.

So, am I to understand that “poor white trash” only (a word that leaves no room for any alternative, only, is a one thing, and one thing only) live in “multicultural” neighborhoods because they are too stupid (or have yet to manage) to captilise on their white privilege? Is that rightfully inferred? Or should I say implied?

So these “poor white trash” have no ties to the community, no desire to become part of the community, no family in the community, only a burning desire to get out of said community as soon as they manage to figure out how to work that white privilege. Is that it?

Renee said...

#Kitty I specifically put a commentary at the end of this piece on my choice of terminology for a reason. Number one in the normal course of events white trash is not a term that I would use but within the context of this post it is meant to denote the fact that whiteness is mitigated by class and thus those bodies are equally stigmatized. The term white trash is meant as a shaming label because whiteness is associated with affluence.
I am further not stating that they do not have families but the communal link is not the same as bodies of color. When they leave these segregated neighborhoods if they are able to mask their class disenfranchisement white privilege will again be their main identifier. The ability to shift will never be awarded to a body of color.
I am certainly not inferring that they are stupid because they have not been able to "cash in on whiteness". In fact capitalism needs bodies to be impoverished for the sake of exploitation. I believe it is the over valuation of whiteness as a whole that stops the communal bonding as in fact poor whites and poor bodies of color have more income with each other than they do with the ruling elite. It is a fact however that because whiteness is so valued that they routinely act against their class location in support of white privilege. A simple examination of unions in Canada will bear witness to this fact.

Renee said...

@eternal llama...So many Canadians are ignorant of the history of racism in this country. Many don't even know that there was slavery in Canada and think of it as a US Sin. I think part of the problem is discursively we find our identity from being not American. We are so busy looking over the border that we do not acknowledge the problems that are occurring here. Canadians love to point the finger. southward and say see we are not that bad.

I point out racism to people all the time. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked where I am from because I am a WOC. Canadians cannot wrap their heads around the idea that blacks have been here for generations. When I tell people I am Canadian they always ask me where I am really from. When I point out the racism that statement I get looked at like I have three heads.

Honestly in some ways I feel that Canadian racism is worse because it is not as blatantly obvious as the states. It is sneaky and quiet but just as deadly. On the posts that I have written about racism in Canada someone will routinely say really, I didn't realize it was like that in Canada.

Renee said...

@AR In a free market, there are always costs to such discrimination that, in times of need, eventually overcome people's desire to maintain the status quo
This statement makes no sense. Capitalism allows these bodies to be hyper exploitable. Bodies of color are marshaled in times of needs and disfranchised every time the economy shrinks or goes through a set back. This is hardly punishing racism as people will always have to take whatever opportunities are available in order to subsist.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

I believe it is the over valuation of whiteness as a whole that stops the communal bonding as in fact poor whites and poor bodies of color have more income with each other than they do with the ruling elite.

Yes I believe this too. However who is doing the over valuation of said whiteness within the communities? Can a “multicultural” neighborhood truly bond if there are suspicions from the people of colour that the whites are just waiting for the opportunity to get the hell out of the dodge, while the whites may be trying to live there without the benefit of their whiteness that greater society affords them, or if the people of colour are right and the whites are just biding their time, when neither may be the case. It was the word “only” that bothered me. Nothing is ever only.

It is a fact however that because whiteness is so valued that they routinely act against their class location in support of white privilege.

Yes, I agree this is routinely done because being white is treated as something superior in a white supremacist society and many people are greedy and want what others don't have or cannot have, they want to feel superior and better than. But there are people who don't choose these things. Also, saying “only there” because they have not cashed in yet, implies, that there are no white people, NONE, that will choose to live any other way but how white supremacist society expects them to behave/live. That thought means no room for progression at all.

When they leave these segregated neighborhoods if they are able to mask their class disenfranchisement white privilege will again be their main identifier. The ability to shift will never be awarded to a body of color. No, it will not be awarded to a body of colour. A person of colour would have to close that gap with a hellva lot of money and even with that cash they will still be a person of colour in a white supremacist society.

What I am still sensing is that there is an absolute belief (“they are only there”) that given the choice, whites will leave a “multicultural” neighborhood each and every time and would choose to bask in their whiteness if given the opportunity. Stating it this way leaves no room for whites to ever choose anything but to glorify in their whiteness, thus kicking all people of colour to the curb. If so, then why does anyone bother with anything, it sounds as if it is what it is and it will never change, so there. It is all just academic then.

AR said...

Have you written anything on your blog about your preference for the word "bodies" instead of people? Because it's an interesting choice of words.

harrietsdaughter said...

Renee - thank you once again for a powerful post. Although I will admit I was mightily distracted by the thought of biriyani....

Just to add... in the work that I do IRL with anti-racism, I've had the opportunity to partner with Canadians doing the work, and these folks (as you report) are faced with the mythology of a non-racist Canada all the time.

Danny said...

I am further not stating that they do not have families but the communal link is not the same as bodies of color. When they leave these segregated neighborhoods if they are able to mask their class disenfranchisement white privilege will again be their main identifier. The ability to shift will never be awarded to a body of color.
Let me make sure I get what's being said here. This sounds like you're saying that if white leave these neighboorhoods its only because they are invoking white priviilege but if they stay its only because they can't cash in on white privilege as if white privilege is the only factor white people consider when picking a place to live.

Renee said...

@Danny in this commentary I am referring to everyday living. One may reside in an area of poverty but leave for work or entertainment whatever. I am saying outside of things that clearly identify someone as being under/working class whiteness will again take over and become the from of identity that is recognized.
Also white privilege is the main factor when picking a place to live. This again is because whiteness is conflated with class influence in our society.

@Kitty There are not many that want to mitigate their privileges, further whether or not we actively seek to draw upon them because of the makeup of our society we will take advantage of whatever privileges are encoded to the body.
At heart I am hopeful person in terms of change but I am also a realist. While I advocate micro activism (individual change) unless and until there is a drive towards a systemic reformulation many of the isms that we are daily battling cannot be undone.

Renee said...

@AR I have a tendencies to use bodies of colour when I am speaking in terms of placement as an object and POC when I am speaking in terms of a subject

Theta Sigma said...

Wow, that was the worst - nopoint - ramblings I have heard for some time.

Ebony Intuition said...

"So many Canadians are ignorant of the history of racism in this country. Many don't even know that there was slavery"

You can say that again, the amount of conversations I've had with non black people men and women who claim that slavery never took place in Canada. I have to ask them "do you not read or research anything about the country that you live in, you just agree with all the BS that is taught to you in school".


"Honestly in some ways I feel that Canadian racism is worse because it is not as blatantly obvious as the states. It is sneaky and quiet but just as deadly."

It truly is because anytime a situation that involves racism pops up the first thing the average white Canadian will say is " oh our city is multi-cultural we don't have these issues".

In the words of Dr Julia Hare "multiculturalism is an illusion of inclusion"


"Also white privilege is the main factor when picking a place to live."

This is 100% true , because I've seen this all my life growing up in Toronto. More people of colour move into an area all the whites move out, except the ones that are unable to due to class and privilege like Renee has mentioned.

My friend/co-worker lives in the town of Markham(Toronto). I asked him one day " yo, don't white people live in your area", he responded " hmmm, ah no they all moved out when the East Indians moved in." His next door neighbor was a white guy (can't remember his nationality) and he told my friend directly that to many "Indians" are moving into the area so he is moving his family further north.

And now Toronto is going through a huge condo boom , which is only going to push everyone out of communities that have been around for 40-50 years to place million dollar condos up which is going to make it even harder for anyone who does not have a large income to find a decent place to live..Gentrification it's called here's a good article on that issue.

http://www.racialicious.com/2008/05/29/i-colonize/

Restructure! said...

How is white privilege mitigated by (lower) class, Renee? If I'm standing on the street and a poor white person is standing on the street, the white person will be considered Canadian, and I will be considered a foreigner. If I send out my resume and a poor white person sends out her resume, the employer will assume the white person speaks English until proven otherwise, but they will assume I don't speak English until I prove otherwise.

You can't mitigate privilege before restructuring society. White privilege and class privilege are separate things.

Renee said...

@Restructure

Mitigation does not remove the privilege rather it is a reflection of the ways in which a white person of a lower class status cannot oppress to the same degree as someone with a higher class status.
If there is a homeless white person and a middle class black person, the person that is homeless will operate with less social power because of economics. Should said homeless person suddenly come into affluence class will not longer effect her/his ability to oppress. Think about this example in what ways does a homeless white individual have the ability to oppress you or express power of you? Operating with a class privilege you are in fact in a greater position to oppress. Race does not always trump class. There is no hierarchy to oppression and power is sometimes a creative force.

Restructure! said...

I had thought before that class, race, gender, etc. were orthogonal to each other, i.e., they don't trump each other because they are separate dimensions, and when they meet, it's intersection. I cannot think of how the homeless white person can oppress the middle class black person, but the homeless white person can oppress the homeless black person. If everything else is equal, the white person still has white privilege that can be cashed in.

restructure said...

I have thought of some ways a homeless white person can oppress or express power over a middle class person of colour:

* A homeless white person can call a middle class black person the n-word, call her "uppity", and say "fifty years ago [...] upside down [...] fork [..]" (a Michael Richard's-like defense when feeling threatened).

* A homeless white person can tell other white people that she is homeless because Asians or Latin@s took "her" job, and gain sympathy because of white solidarity.

* If a well-groomed homeless white person was in a store wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and a well-groomed middle class black person was in the store wearing jeans and a T-shirt, the middle class black person is more likely to be followed.

* If Canada or the US goes to war with an Asian country, the white homeless person is not in danger of being sent to an internment camp, being the new target of hate crimes (called "backlash" by the media), and is not in danger of being monitored and spied upon by the government. This is not true for middle class people of colour who are seen as foreign.

* A homeless white person can buy Band-Aids that more or less match her skin tone. This is generally not true for middle class people of colour.

Danny said...

In the five examples you give I have a question about the last three (I think the first two are excellent examples).

* If a well-groomed homeless white person was in a store wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and a well-groomed middle class black person was in the store wearing jeans and a T-shirt, the middle class black person is more likely to be followed.
How exactly is the homeless white person oppressing that middle class black person? To me the employees of the store are the oppressors in this example.


* If Canada or the US goes to war with an Asian country, the white homeless person is not in danger of being sent to an internment camp, being the new target of hate crimes (called "backlash" by the media), and is not in danger of being monitored and spied upon by the government. This is not true for middle class people of colour who are seen as foreign.
Would not the officials and law enforment that commit the spying and imprisonment be the oppressors?


* A homeless white person can buy Band-Aids that more or less match her skin tone. This is generally not true for middle class people of colour.
Wouldn't that be on the makers of Band-Aids and their decision to think that one color of Band-Aids is the standard and not deviate from it? And I've always thought those things were too pink to really match anyone's skin tone.

Or are you trying to point out indirect oppression?

restructure said...

I guess those would be more "expressing power over" middle class people of colour. In any case, white privilege isn't "mitigated" by class.

Renee said...

@Restructure I disagree. A person of a lower class is not able to express power to the same degree that a person of high class or the ruling elite. It does not eliminate their ability to express privilege but reduces their ability to not only express but act on it.

restructure said...

But isn't that because of class privilege? If a lower class white person is considered less valuable than a middle class white, it's because of classism. If a middle class black person is considered less valuable than a middle class white, it's because of racism. Sometimes middle class black people are considered more valuable than lower class white people, but sometimes it's the other way around, where middle class black people are considered 'elitists' and lower class white people are considered average, working class Americans. Class and race don't really trump each other.

If you describe Thorncliffe Park as "a neighbourhood that white people are too rich to live in" but add that there are poor whites, aren't you using the Stuff White People Like definition of 'white people'? That is, only affluent whites with other properties.

Renee said...

@Restructure
But isn't that because of class privilege? If a lower class white person is considered less valuable than a middle class white, it's because of classism.

Well exactly thus class is mitigating white privilege.

Class and race don't really trump each other.
It is not about trumping each other, it is about how they act with and against each other.

If you describe Thorncliffe Park as "a neighbourhood that white people are too rich to live in" but add that there are poor whites, aren't you using the Stuff White People Like definition of 'white people'? That is, only affluent whites with other properties.

Whiteness is socially associated with affluence, hence the class relation. This is what causes the issues of under/lower class whites to be ignored. The overvaluation of whiteness is what causes them to not ally with POC to improve their circumstances.

White Trash said...

You seem very angry.


"When I tell people I am Canadian they always ask me where I am really from. When I point out the racism that statement I get looked at like I have three heads."


These people aren't racist, they just aren't very smart. Racism implies intent. Racial faux pas is not racism.


Real racism exists. Calling every white person a bigot is only going to fuel racial hatred. I'm not a racist and god help anyone who calls me one.

White Trash said...

I just have one question. Do you think that there is some sort of massive white conspiracy?

Renee said...

@White trash academic...I am not filled with rage and I find it telling that you would assume so based on me simply pointing out a reoccuring experience that I have. Even if I were to feel anger it would be legitimate considering the fact that race is something that I daily have to negotiate.
These people aren't racist, they just aren't very smart. Racism implies intent. Racial faux pas is not racism.

No there is intent there. It is a well understood fact that Canadian equals white and all others are simply "passing through". No matter what their supposed intent was, what matter is it effect on me, the body that is being attacked. It is racist commentary to question someones place of origin based in skin color. Unless you are living in the Rockies devoid of human contact such racialized questioning is a known faux pas.

I don't necessarily believe in a white conspiracy as you put it, but I am firm in my belief that as with all privilege people daily commit acts in maintenance of it.

White Trash said...

@Renee


I'm only quick to judge because I used to be angry about it too. Obviously the situations you describe are too common. I know of situations where people have been shipped in large groups to small towns to perform labor, and when this happens it seems they don't integrate and they leave after. In urban centers, immigrants tend to clump together and this also causes a severe lack of integration. It's a shame.

There are still however many people who come to this country and flourish. The high school I went to was in a small, even hickish town. I swear I saw someone drive through the tim hortons drive-thru in a housecoat on a four-wheeler once. Regardless, we had quite a few families in our town of 5000 who weren't originally from Canada. Some of this was due to the fact that we had refugees in one of the churches for about a year (I lived in a border town) In our school of 500 we probably had 20 visible minority students if I strain to remember correctly. There was absolutely zero racism. Nobody even thought about it. The only racism anyone encountered was the stereotypical embarrassing old grandfather or great uncle that some of us were blessed with, who we just ignored and were ashamed of.

Before I left that town I was so young and naive that I actually thought that racism was "in the history books"; at least in Canada. My big eye opener was moving to the Jane/Finch section of Toronto. I had never seen anything like it. The amount of hatred there was unbelievable. The first thing my superintendent told me and my room-mate was that we should "Stick with our own kind, for our own good". He was an African who had just arrived in Canada 6 or 7 months earlier for the first time, he was about 40. Sadly due to all the gang violence it was actually good advice. Sadly we didn't follow it at first. We integrated to some extent, made some friends, but there were some hairy situations that needed to be defused too.


I'm really losing track of where I was going with this.

I guess my point is simply that you aren't alone, all white people aren't bigots, and hatred is not the path to follow. It will chew you up and spit you out. There is hope, we can live without racism in our lives because I've seen it with my own two eyes many times over. God that sounds cheesy.