I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Racism and White Privilege

Everyone - everyone who's Canadian, that is -  knows those nasty Americans are racist.  It's one of the  articles of faith we Canadians subscribe to. Moreover,  this knowledge braces up, reinforces, and shores up our feeling of superiority to  Americans.   
After all, look at how they treat Afro-Americans. True, they don't call them niggers anymore. But look at their incarceration rates! 
From Human Rights Watch:
Incarceration of Blacks

· In twelve states, between 10 and 15 percent of adult black men are incarcerated.

· In ten states, between 5 and 10 percent of black adults are incarcerated.

· In twelve states, black men are incarcerated at rates between twelve and sixteen times greater than those of white men.

· In fifteen states, black women are incarcerated at rates between ten and thirty-five times greater than those of white women.
And from :


Blacks make up 12% or so of the total U.S. population and  represent more than 40% of inmates:

U.S. population by race and then Us inmates by race:

Tsk,tsk.  Plainly racist, right?  Not like us, right?  We're a tolerant, accepting lot, right?
From Prisonjustice at (Stats are all 2005/6, unless stated otherwise. Updated Aug 2008:
Aboriginal Adults (2005-2006)
  • 4% of the total canadian adult population - (2006 Census)
  • 24% of admissions to provincial/territorial sentenced custody
  • 18% of admissions to federal prisons
  • 19% of admissions to remand
  • 21% of male prisoner population
  • 30% of female prisoner population
Gee, those stats look nastily familiar.  
But  that's all about criminals!    We don't see that out in the "normal" population! We don't ,do we? We're not racist!  That's not what research shows.
"As part of his research, Oreopoulos tailored 6,000 mock resumes to specific job requirements in 20 occupational categories and sent them to employers with online job postings in the Greater Toronto area.  Each resume listed a bachelor’s degree and up to six years of experience but the study found resumes with names like Jill Wilson or John Martin received interview callbacks 40 per cent more often than identical resumes with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.
Oreopoulos said the findings help to explain why skilled immigrants arriving under Canada’s point system – with university degrees and significant work experience – fare poorly in today’s labour market. I wasn’t expecting the gap by name alone to be so large,” he said. “It defined as much of a gap as another study found between blacks and whites in the U.S.”"
Perhaps it isn't surprising that our institutions are racist - even a Unitarian  Universalist fellowship is racist. After all, no white person in North America has lived in a non-racist society - not even we morally superior Canadians.
What to do?
Examine our privilege and admit we benefit from a system that privileges whites. 
"Racism will only end when a significant number of white people of conscience, the people who can wield systemic privilege and power with integrity, find the will and take the  action to dismantle it. "
Not only is racism unjust, eliminating it is important for reasons of self interest - which I'll examine in a future post.

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