All Posts Tagged With: "racism"
Recent survey of international students might surprise you
In 1916, Bill Boeing went to MIT to hire his first chief engineer. He picked Wong Tsoo, a Chinese guy who had emigrated to England at the age of 16 for undergrad before crossing the Atlantic for graduate school. Wong quickly got to work on Boeing’s first commercially successful plane, the C-Model. Imagine how different the airline industry might have been had another country’s university—Canada’s perhaps—enticed Wong. Both Canada and the U.S. had racist anti-Chinese policies at the time, such as the Head Tax, but if Canada had been less racist than America, might the Wongs of the era have chosen McGill?
We’ve come a long way since then. From 2001 to 2008, the number of international students in Canada increased at a rate of 4.3% per year; between 2008 to 2012 the annual increase was, astonishingly, 12.3%. There were 265,377 in 2012 (74% of them in post-secondary schools). We now get five per cent of all international students worldwide, making Canada the seventh most popular destination after the US, UK, China, France, Germany and Australia, according to Project Atlas.
Students discuss race-based Halloween attire
Every Halloween, student activists remind their peers that race-based costumes can offend. You may have seen the posters on campus. They say things like: “My culture is not a costume.”
The message appears to be getting through. At McMaster University, “Sexy Indian Princess” and “Eskimo Cutie” costumes were on sale at the campus bookstore last week but an editorial in The Silhouette student newspaper quickly condemned them. (For those who don’t see why dressing up this way offends, consider the amount of sexual violence Indigenous women endure.)
Another Halloween tradition students are told to stay away from is painting one’s face black. That offends folks who know the history of white racists caricaturing black Americans with black face paint at minstrel shows. After the traditional Halloween party weekend, no reports of racist costumes emerged from Canadian campuses. There was, however, a report of a Florida man dressed as Trayvon Martin. The real test is Thursday.
Some think the annual outcry goes too far. Klara Woldenga, writing in the University of Victoria’s Martlet, satirized the outrage with a group ghosts, warewolves and vampires called the Altered Living Alliance protesting stereotypes. Comments so far suggest some readers aren’t laughing.
Report of racist Pocahontas chant
VANCOUVER – A controversial chant based on the Disney movie “Pocahontas” used by students at the University of B.C. has set off a series of measures to help students better understand First Nations.
The changes were announced in a report arising from frosh events sponsored by the Commerce Undergraduate Society last summer.
“The report released today shows us there is very little awareness of indigenous peoples and their concerns among the students we interviewed,” Louise Cowin, UBC’s vice president of students, said in a news release Monday.
“Clearly, UBC has a role to play in educating students to become more culturally competent.”
The report found that student leaders at the Sauder School of Business selected the “Pocahontas” theme and created the chant.
Students talk of a brilliant but sexist professor
News of David Gilmour’s proud indifference to ideas and people unlike him has rocked the Canadian Twittersphere.
Gilmour and his off-the-cuff paean in Hazlitt to macho men of letters earned him attention in the American press and incited the wrath of Jezebel writers and academics eager to point out that the Canadian novelist does not have a PhD (because a doctorate, as we all know, is the prerequisite to a sound and tolerant mind). After that first cringe-worthy interview, Gilmour did himself no favours by attempting to clarify his remarks in the National Post. Again he insisted that those interested in reading the works of women, gays and Chinese people go “down the hall.”
“I don’t love women writers enough to teach them. That’s all I’m saying,” he explained. “What I teach are guys. If you want women writers, you go down the hall. … I have a degree in French literature, and I speak French fluently, but I don’t teach French literature because I don’t feel it as deeply and as passionately as some of the other teachers here. So I actually send people down the hall to somebody who can teach it better. The same thing goes for German writers, for women writers, for gay writers, for Chinese writers.”
Down the hall … it’s a big theme in Gilmour’s worldview. It’s also, I’m assuming, as a gay female writer, where he thinks I belong.
So who exactly is down the hall? I decided to find out.
Prof. Pettigrew on the limits of ‘teach what you love’
I don’t like Spenser’s Faerie Queene, but when I first taught Introduction to English Literature,there it was on my syllabus. I felt like I had to include it, so I did. When the time came to teach it, I gave some background, including an account of an earlier poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Once we got to Spenser though, I quickly realized my students weren’t liking it, because I didn’t like it. They had picked up on my enthusiasm for Sir Gawain, and wanted to know more about that Green Knight guy.
So I learned a good lesson: teach what you love, not what you think you’re supposed to teach.
This same principle, taken to an absurd extreme, has also been adopted by University of Toronto English Instructor David Gilmour, who got folks excited yesterday when he was quoted in an interview saying that he had no interest in teaching female writers because he only taught what he was passionate about: “Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.”
Aboriginals report racism and discomfort but also support
New journalism school graduate Frank Molley, of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec, recalls a humiliating experience while studying at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B.
“There were two Native journalists in the class [and] one of them did a story about a Native woman who was beaten up,” he says. When someone explained that the Native woman had been called a squaw, some students in the back of the class started laughing. He walked out.
He was also offended when a professor told him First Nation stories weren’t “newsy” enough.
Another time, he asked peers to help cover a story about the Assembly of First Nation Chiefs in New Brunswick’s plan to address poverty. No one showed up, he says, “as breaking and important as it was.” Molley says he felt ostracized, but he hasn’t given up on his chosen profession.
Despite challenges like accessibility and racism, Indigenous students are graduating and working as journalists. Exactly how many is unknown, but mediaINDIGENA.com, an online magazine, recently counted more than 60 working Indigenous journalists in Canada.
We must engage the past even when it’s uncomfortable
Remember the end of the film Dead Poets Society? When the students all stand up on their desks and cry “O Captain, My Captain!” as a tribute to the wronged and noble teacher Mr. Keating?
The reference is, of course, to a famous poem by the American writer Walt Whitman. Whitman is one of the giants of American literature, and the poem is usually interpreted as an elegy to the recently assassinated president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, of course, was, much-hated in the South for, among other things, his opposition to slavery.
So it might have come as a surprise that the man who so eloquently eulogized the Great Emancipator is now at the centre of a controversy over racism. A graduate student at Northwestern University is, according to reports, willing to fail a class rather than perform a piece of music based on a Whitman work. The student insists that Whitman was an “historically racist” man, who denigrated African Americans and opposed their voting rights.
What students are talking about today (April 12th)
1. The city council of Kingston, Ont. has been accused of disregarding university students as it redraws electoral boundaries. Council voted that three of the 13 municipal electoral districts near Queen’s University will be merged into two, which means students will be represented by fewer councilors. This is despite a staff report that recommended taking into account the student population, which the city knows exists, even though they’re unlikely to be counted in official tallies that require voters to register themselves. Queen’s Alma Mater Society has expressed disappointment. “The AMS is dismayed by the attitudes that many of the Councillors expressed at the meeting, which reflected an aggressively anti-student attitude that is all too familiar—one which the AMS has been working for a decade to eradicate.”
2. A McGill University professor allegedly harassed a Muslim student from Cairo, an accusation that spread on social media and resulted in protesters chanting, “Hey, hey. Ho, Ho. Racist professors have to go,” outside of his lecture, reports the Gazette. The protest followed a Global News report that included an audio recording student Amr El-Orabi secretly made during a conversation with professor Gary Dunphy before El-Orabi quit school and returned to Egypt. In the recording, Dunphy accuses El-Orabi of cyber-stalking, refers to both the student’s God and his own God in unkind terms, and says, “don’t think for a minute that your culture is the be all and end all.” When El-Orabi asks,”is there anything else that you want from me now?,” Dunphy responds, “your death.”
What students are talking about today (April 4th)
1. Queen’s University instructed security officers to rip down a free speech wall in a student centre because it “allegedly included language that constituted hate speech,” according to an official press release. A video of a blonde-haired officer removing the banner has been widely-viewed on YouTube. The wall, little more than paper with words scribbled on it, was encouraged by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and erected by the local group Queen’s Students for Liberty. What exactly was so offensive is unclear, but it was bad enough that the administration chose to act. “Queen’s recognizes the right of free speech, but appreciates too the limits on free speech. Hate speech and racial slurs have no place on our campus,” wrote Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) in the statement. The Alma Mater Society, which owns the space, put out a statement too. “Queen’s Students for Liberty was given an opportunity to remove these two denigrating comments, and return the space to one of inclusive, free dialogue for all,” wrote president Doug Johnson. “When the club failed to act, the offensive material was removed.” A free speech wall erected at Carleton University in January was torn down by a student who claimed it was anti-gay.
2. Speaking of free speech and hate speech, students at Towson University in Maryland are fighting back against a white supremacist group’s declaration that it will start “night patrols” on campus. At a student-organized rally, the university’s president praised efforts to peacefully oppose the White Student Union. Matt Heimbach, spokesman of white group, told ABC News he believes multiculturalism is being forced on America. Yes, this is really happening in 2013.
3. Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia, annouced Wednesday that he will step down in 2014 and then he gave an interview to The Ubyssey student newspaper. Heather Munroe-Blum, principal of the equally well-respected McGill University, who is also stepping down, did an exit interview of sorts with campus media too. The differences between the questions student reporters asked are a reminder of the contrast between generally sunny UBC students and the almost endlessly antagonistic McGill crowd. McGill student reporters asked questions like, “How can McGill say that it’s part of Quebec, and, at the same time, call tuition fees sacred?” and “Do you think [the police] could have had different tactics?” Meanwhile, at UBC, The Ubyssey reporter asked Toope questions like, “Do you think raising UBC to a global level is one of your core achievements?” For the record, I think it’s obvious that both Toope and Munroe-Blum have been strong leaders.
4. Bill Clinton told reporters ahead of a meeting with student leaders that he sees the cost of college as a major problem. “We can’t continue to see the cost of education go up every decade when wages are flat,” he told Inside Higher Education. “I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system,” he added, saying the next step is, “for someone to certify what you need to know and then figure out some way of validating the merits of these online courses.”
5. The University of Calgary Dinos sports teams have unveiled a new logo, which is, obviously, a dinosaur. More interesting is that Calgary also announced a five-year partnership that will put Nike swooshes on uniforms. Speaking of corporate sponsorship deals, the Petro Canada Hall at Memorial University in Newfoundland has been renamed for Suncor Energy, which donated $50,000, reports The Muse student newspaper. There once was a time when there would be major outcries against corporate sponsorship deals on campus. Apparently that’s no longer the case.
How can this campus group claim to fight oppression?
A friend and I went to a movie night one Friday evening in January hosted by the Students of Colour Collective (SOCC), a campus group at the University of Victoria, where I am on a transfer from the University of Manitoba completing a double major in Criminology and Psychology.
It was a spur of the moment decision to go, but we were excited to get out and have a fun night. The movie being presented was Precious Knowledge, a film about the struggle of the Mexican American Studies Program to continue after it was banned by a school board in Arizona.
We arrived, sat down and waited for the movie to begin. My friend asked if he could help himself to a glass of the juice that was set out on the table. The host replied that the beverages were for movie night attendees. She then informed us that the event was for community building and not open to the public. We were specifically addressed in front of the room of people. There was no announcement that it was a closed event.
Jack Buckby is the younger face of the far right
He’s an unlikely far-right trailblazer: neither old, nor angry, nor square. Jack Buckby, the 20-year-old founder of the National Culturists—a Tea Party-inspired youth movement that aims to reinvigorate Britain’s flagging far right—pairs John Lennon glasses with modish ties and ironic facial hair. He’s well-spoken. He blogs. He’s already a darling of the radical British National Party (BNP), which campaigns on the premise that immigration has put British culture in peril, and has plans to spread the word to campuses nationwide.
His political awakening occurred, he says, after realizing that “if you disagree with multiculturalism, you are deemed a racist.” Frustrated, Buckby came across the work of John Press, founder of the Brooklyn Tea Party. Press argues that “traditional majority culture” should be promoted over diversity, which, he feels, embraces “practices such as female genital mutilation and drug-running gangster culture.” In 2011, Buckby, who is partway through a political science degree at the University of Liverpool, founded the National Culturists. “We don’t have aspirations to be a street movement,” he says. “We want to be an academic organization.”
What students are talking about today (February 11th)
1. After Drake won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album on Sunday night he released a video for his new single, Started From the Bottom. Much of the video was filmed at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Binbrook, Ont, according to the Hamilton Spectator, and it also features his mom standing outside his childhood home in Toronto, reports Canada.com. Why do we care? My guess is because Canadians love to see Canadian things in videos they think Americans will watch. For more Grammy coverage see Macleans.ca.
2. City of Toronto inspectors have found what they say is an illegal rooming house near U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. Officials told the Toronto Star it was probably full of foreign students. Eleven people were living in rooms in the majorly renovated house. Real estate agent Yixuan (Jessica) Wang has been accused of arranging the leases. The city says there are 120 active files stemming from complaints over suspected illegal properties in Scarborough where there is just one 765-bed student residence (at UTSC) for nearly 15,000 post-secondary students.
What students are talking about today (February 7th)
1. About 1,000 people spoiled their ballots in the recent Carleton University Students’ Association elections, chief electoral officer Sunny Cohen told The Charlatan. Most of the ballots were disqualified because people wrote in more than one place, but more than 100 had penises drawn on them. A “Phallus Your Ballot” Facebook page and instructional video had proposed this act of protest. “If we’re going to elect dicks, we might as well get to draw them,” read the page. Third-year student Sam Corey told The Charlatan he voted for two candidates but drew a phallus on the rest of his ballots because CUSA is too concerned with issues like “safe space.”
2. A fraternity at Duke University threw an Asian-themed party on Friday. The Asian Student Association fought back on Wednesday with a protest after seeing photos of party goers in Japanese kimonos and dressed as sumo-wrestlers. The ASA released the photos but was kind enough to blur faces. Although kimonos and sumo costumes aren’t offensive on their own, The Duke Chronicle reports the party was advertised in an e-mail that started off “Herro Nice Duke Peopre,” a dig at some Asian accents. The frat has apologized.
Artist Deanna Bowen says work is meant to be provocative
Three Ku Klux Klan banners prominently displayed in the vitrines overlooking York University’s Accolade East colonnade are causing people who pass by everyday to literally trip over themselves.
These pieces are part of a daring art exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University entitled Invisible Empires, which presents a collection of archival material that shows how the violent white supremacist organization had a role in 20th century Canadian history—not just American history as many Canadians likely believe.
Hanging such banners on campus seemed likely to cause an uproar among people of colour, and some were indeed initially upset. However, it seems to have sparked a conversation.
“They’re not put up to be harmful,” says Deanna Bowen, the black Toronto artist behind the exhibit. The banners are “meant to get you inside to hear more about this history.”
What students are talking about on December 20th
1. For the first time in 15 years, Miss USA has been crowned Miss Universe. This, as Gawker points out, on what some believe is right before the universe ends. Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old from Boston University, has a rags to riches story: she wore a $25 rented dress with a hole in it to her first pageant last year. Before you dismiss her as another one of those backward American pageant girls (remember this one?) consider that she supports transgender rights and plans to use her title to champion HIV/AIDS prevention.
2. Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative opposition leader is denouncing racist comments from the party’s former youth president, but says he will not apologize. Braydon Mazurkiewich resigned after posting comments on Facebook that referred to “freeloading Indians.”
Spencer Fernando: We are more than the colour of our skin.
The University of Manitoba Students’ Union may add a representative for racialized students. Spencer Fernando, a man of mixed heritage, explained his opposition to the idea in this piece for The Manitoban, where is the comment editor. Agree? Disagree? Leave your comment below.
At the outset of this piece, I feel it’s important for me to state clearly that I believe those who favor the creation of the racialized rep. have good intentions. They are making a sincere effort to make the world a better place. My disagreement is not with their intentions, but the method they have chosen.
As we consider this issue, let’s ask ourselves a few questions: First, should there be an UMSU rep. elected on the basis of their skin colour? Second, is it fair to create a position that could exclude white students and discourage them from running or voting for it? Third, should every non-white student be grouped into one category and represented by one person? My answer to these questions is no.
Trump is mad, pot is legal & U. Manitoba’s “racialized rep.”
1. Barack Obama got a second chance, winning the presidency for another four years with 50 per cent of the popular vote to Mitt Romney’s 48 per cent plus victory in battleground states like Ohio. From Obama’s victory speech: “Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.” Full text here.
2. Upon hearing the election results, Donald Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter and threatened to “March on Washington,” the site of this democratic “travesty.”
3. Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives during Tuesday’s election that legalize marijuana for recreational use. But pot-heads shouldn’t pack their bags for Denver or Seattle just yet. Legalization may lead to a Supreme Court challenge from the federal government.
No Doubt apologizes, plus Glen Murray & Dawgfather PhD
1. The band No Doubt has pulled its music video for a new song called “Looking Hot” after Native Americans called it racist due to the Wild West theme that includes front-woman Gwen Stefani dressed up in native-inspired attire. In response to the outcry, the band apologized on their website: “Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realize now that we have offended people. This is of great concern to us and we are removing the video immediately. The music that inspired us when we started the band, and the community of friends, family, and fans that surrounds us was built upon respect, unity and inclusiveness. We sincerely apologize to the Native American community.”
2. Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party voted at their convention on Saturday to support lowering the drinking age from 19 to 18. It’s not a certainty yet, however. “We take resolutions at the convention very seriously, Wall told CBC, adding, “Before we consider any sort of change, we’re going to have to consult.”
3. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois received $58,000 in donations from more than 1,700 people to fight his contempt of court conviction. The former head of CLASSE, who led the anti-tuition movement with its nightly marches and shutdown of Quebec universities earlier this year, was recently found guilty of encouraging people to ignore a court injunction that allowed a Laval student to return to classes.
Voyeur arrested, three-year degrees & pipeline politics
1. Canada added 52,100 jobs in September, which is not bad at all. The unemployment rate edged up to 7.4 per cent, but only because more people were looking for work. The job gains were concentrated in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. Men, whose prospects had diminished most during the 2009 recession, did well too. Also good news: the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent after 114,000 jobs were added in September.
2. Police in London, Ont. have arrested Bradley Priestap, 47, who they suspect committed a series of crimes near Western University. The suspect has a history of other convictions. He faces 17 counts, including trespassing and breaking and entering to commit voyeurism.
3. The Ontario government is considering an overhaul in post-secondary education and one of the ideas floated is three-year degrees. Many observers were quick to oppose the idea, but Ontario’s colleges say they would be happy to provide them. See their argument here.
Queen’s professor was unfairly relieved of his duties
Recently the Canadian Association of University Teachers came down hard on Queen’s University for their handling of the case of Michael Mason, a professor who was, effectively, ousted from the course he had come out of retirement to teach.
I don’t always side with CAUT, but they seem to be right on this one.
Reports indicated that Mason used terms like “japs” and “towelhead” in his class on the history of imperialism. Having been around the university world for a long time, I’m always skeptical of reports of profs saying indefensible things in class because, as far as I can tell, it generally doesn’t happen. Professors are typically a civilized lot and usually highly aware of the nuances of the language.
What has been happening lately, though, is that professors’ comments are being taken wildly out of context; then follows misguided outrage, and then, in turn, the normal interactions of shit and fans.