Resisting intolerance

In the wake of the Islamophobic attack on the mosque in Sainte-Foy, Québec this past Sunday, McGill’s own Sameer Zuberi, a long-time activist and human rights advocate, spoke on CBC’s The National to offer his perspective on the rise of intolerance and why we must resist.

Injustice anywhere…

Humanity is one brotherhood

Humanity is but a single brotherhood

On Sunday, January 29th, 2016, just before 8 p.m., a terrorist attack was carried out against a Sainte-Foy mosque where the faithful were gathered in prayer. When the guns fell silent, 6 people lay dead and several others were injured, some critically. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims.

The most disheartening aspect of this atrocity is that it isn’t entirely unexpected, nor is it new to this province or country. As we have watched messages of hate and intolerance proliferate around us, it is important to remember that violence knows no borders, and it was unlikely that we would remain untouched by it.

As Canadians, we tend to think of ourselves as impervious to such things. We are the “good people”. We aren’t like those “other” countries. And yet Canada has known ongoing colonization, over 200 years of slavery, the Head Tax of 1885residential schools, internment camps, the massacre at Polytechnique, …

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If we don’t actively fight against the rising tide of populism, bigotry and hatred, we will find ourselves engulfed by it.

In solidarity, peace, and friendship.

Credit: D. Mathieu Cassendo

Credit: D. Mathieu Cassendo

Montreal vigil: January 30th, 2016 @ 18:00 – Parc metro station

Deadly Québec mosque shooting

Attaque terroriste à Québec

#SalamQc #PrayForQuebec

Where are all the “other” people?

Photo credit: bet.com

Photo credit: bet.com

 

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a big surprise to learn that there aren’t huge numbers of women and racialized minorities in the big technology firms (excluding Asian males who represent a significant portion of the tech industry). Anyone who has been following the #Gamergate madness is well aware of the fact that the tech industry is not the most diverse space in the universe. That said, I think many people would be shocked to learn that the gaming industry would rather you not mention it. In fact, people who have been outspoken on the issue of the lack of women and minorities in the high tech industry have often seen their careers cut short.

What the heck, high tech?

Check out this article on why the Big Technology thinks diversity is a dirty word.

Dying to be Black (or Native American)

Life Expectancy White

Life Expectancy - Black

Life Expectancy Native American

Many people have suggested that the election and re-election of Barack Obama are indicative of the end of racism in the US. However, the numbers don’t lie; if you’re black, you had better start on your bucket list early, because you’ll be gone from this earth before your neighbours.

While the gap is shrinking, the life expectancy of African Americans and Native Americans is still well below the life expectancy of White Americans. Not surprisingly, Norteastern states are doing much better than Southwestern states. However, it is interesting to note that Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans have a longer life expectancy than White Americans.

McGill researchers performed a new, state-by-state analysis to provide a clearer picture of the gaps, which are most likely indicative of deeper social issues.

Check out this article to read more about the study, and look here for some details on the life expectancy by state. The title of the web page is “USA Life Expectancy – Life longer, live better”. Food for thought.

Sigh… Still such a long way to go…

CHOI 91.9 Radio X

Last week, on francophone radio station CHOI 91.9 Radio X Montréal, a particularly enlightened announcer had some very well-researched and inspiring things to say about black role models.  His informed conclusion was that, for the most part, black heroes turn out to be zeros.

You can listen to his brilliant commentary here.

Of course, it is difficult to think of anyone from Canada’s black community who has made a significant contribution without some terrible scandal ruining everything.  Off the top of my head, the only people I can think of are:

  • Donovan Bailey (first Canadian to win Olympic gold in the 100m sprint)
  • Jully Black (singer)
  • Gregory Charles (musician)
  • Austin Clarke (novelist)
  • Malcolm Gladwell (journalist)
  • Marci Ien (news anchor)
  • Jarome Iginla (hockey player – NHL all-star and Olympic gold medalist)
  • Michaëlle Jean (Governor General of Canada)
  • Dany Laferrière (novelist)
  • Ranee Lee (singer)
  • Oscar Peterson (pianist)
  • Gloria Reuben (actress / AIDS activist)
  • P. K. Subban (hockey player)
  • Bruny Surin (Olympic gold medalist)

’nuff said.

2013.11.10 – This Week in Discrimination

Two steps forward and one step back.  Some days it looks as though it’s one step forward and two steps back.  Despite the fact that it can sometimes be disheartening, it is important to keep our eyes open and face reality.  The world is an imperfect place.  There is inequality, injustice and discrimination here and elsewhere.  The good news is that if we spot it, we can act on it.  We can work together to stamp out inequality, injustice and discrimination.  Our better world is just around the corner, but we have to build it.

Every week, we will try to share links to five stories that highlight discrimination, injustice, inequality.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging news than discouraging news, and these articles won’t be quite so easy to find.

First Peoples

First Nations Veteran

Apparently some members of the Toronto police force didn’t know that Canada has First Nations veterans.  Apparently reminding Canadians that there are First Nations veterans isn’t appropriate on Remembrance Day.  Apparently you can be arrested for no other reason than, well… Hmm… Why exactly were Davyn Calfchild and Gary Wassaykeesic arrested?  When questioned, one Toronto officer responded, “It’s a ceremony based on tradition and patriotism… ”  OK.  Still not clear on what prompted the arrest though.  Maybe you can figure it out and explain it.  Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

 Toronto police arrested a First Nations war veteran on Remembrance Day

Persons with Disabilities

Family Wheelchair

Disability comes in many forms, and people with disabilities face more challenges than the able-bodied will ever understand.  However, Jamie Davis Smith, the mother of a disabled daughter, recently shared a list of 5 things that she wishes everyone knew about families dealing with disability.  It’s unfortunate that she has to publish this list, but humans are slow to change, so we’ll keep repeating the message until people learn to stop judging, stop fearing, and stop using the word “retarded”.

Here is Jamie’s List (follow the link for the details):

  1. We really, really dislike the word “retarded”.
  2. Some disabilities are invisible.
  3. It’s ok to ask questions when disabilities are visible.
  4. We are not heroes.
  5. Be considerate.

5 Things You Should Know About Families Dealing With Disabilities

Queer People

Italpasta

 Many of you will remember the Barilla pasta scandal.  This beats the pants off of the Office québécois de la langue française Pastagate.  Just over two months ago, Guido Barilla, president of the pasta company, gave a radio interview in which he had nothing good to say about the LGBTQ community.  His comments sparked a wave of outrage that was felt far beyond Parma, Italy.  In fact, it would appear that the international boycott and outcry have been enough for Signor Barilla to offer up “mi scusa” on the company’s website.  However, one cannot help but wonder how sincere the apology is.  Perhaps we should continue to look to companies that have nothing to apologize for.

Barilla CEO Says He Likes Gays Now, So Please Buy Some Of His Pasta

Toronto’s Italpasta “Our Pasta is made for All Pasta Lovers”

Women

UN Women Ad - Women Should Not

We Google just about everything these days.  From news to bus schedules, Google is the go-to search engine for just about everyone.  However, I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can Google sexism; not the word, but the experience.  Try it yourself and you’ll see.  The ad series created for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai uses real Google search results “to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women.”  It’s disturbing when you understand how Google instant search results are generated.  It would appear that we still have a long, long way to go.  If you are worried that these ads are a little one-sided, Google “women shouldn’t”, then Google “men shouldn’t” and see what Google Instant search returns.  It’s pretty scary.

UN Women ad series reveals widespread sexism

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

School of Social Work

Edward Lee sounds exactly like the kind of McGillian we can all be proud of.  He completed his Masters of Social Work as a member of the Dean’s Honour List and a recipient of the Alumni prize for Outstanding Masters of Social Work thesis.  He is currently working on his PhD in Social Work and has been awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Vanier Fellowship.  Last year, he was also awarded the 1st annual Equity and Community Building Award in the Academic Staff category for his “commitment to – and leadership in – matters relating to equity, diversity and community building, both within the School of Social Work and in the wider McGill community.”  Mr. Lee currently teaches the highly regarded course on Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice.  So, with all of this apparent success within the McGill community, why did Edward Lee file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission “alleging systemic racism on the part of the School [of Social Work]”?

Mr. Lee is not the first person to suggest that there is systemic discrimination at McGill.  In his case, the Quebec Human Rights Commission received and accepted his complaint, which suggests that there is enough merit to the complaint to warrant an investigation.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation to see how it unfolds.

McGill School of Social Work accused of perpetuating systemic racism

2013.10.13 – This Week in Discrimination

Two steps forward and one step back.  Some days it looks as though it’s one step forward and two steps back.  Despite the fact that it can sometimes be disheartening, it is important to keep our eyes open and face reality.  The world is an imperfect place.  There is inequality, injustice and discrimination here and elsewhere.  The good news is that if we spot it, we can act on it.  We can work together to stamp out inequality, injustice and discrimination.  Our better world is just around the corner, but we have to build it.

Every week, we will share links to five stories that highlight discrimination, injustice, inequality.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging news than discouraging news, and these articles won’t be quite so easy to find.

First Peoples

First Nations leaders are less than impressed with the Harper Government’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister and his education reform plan.  Once again, it looks like a case of The Government Knows Best.  Unfortunately, it would appear that the Canadian Government isn’t learning from the mistakes of the past.  Native leaders speak of minimal consultation and no commitment to funding.  Somehow, we haven’t learned that the people in the best position to formulate a plan to educate children in First Nations communities are people from First Nations communities.

Valcourt urges First Nations education reform 1st, funds later

AFN chiefs pan Ottawa’s education plan for First Nations children

 

Persons with Disabilities

Montreal is a great city to study and live in.  It has a diverse cultural scene, the nightlife is varied and vibrant, and the food is outstanding.  However, if you happen to be disabled, Montreal can be a city of obstacles and challenges that many of us may overlook.  Most of the public transit system isn’t wheelchair accessible, don’t try to roll down Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets without help, and if you are looking for an accessible bathroom after dark on a weeknight, good luck.  While we may understand why universal design principles weren’t considered in a 200-year-old building, it is more difficult to understand why a 5-year-old restaurant doesn’t have an accessible restroom.

(This article was published in August 2013)

 

Queer People

Gay bashing is undeniably disturbing.  In the case of the attack on Scott Jones it is made all the more disturbing by of the age of the alleged assailant.  27-year-old Scott Jones will be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.  His 19-year-old attacker is now facing charges that will probably see him locked up for the foreseeable future.  Who taught this young man to be so full of hate?  Why would you be willing to risk your freedom to harm someone whom you don’t know, who doesn’t know you, and who has never done a thing to hurt you?  How can the mere existence of another person drive you to such an act?

We still have such a long way to go.

Police Charge 19-Year-Old In Violent Attack On Gay N.S. Man

 

Women

Since the PQ Government first hinted at their plan, the Québec Charter of Values has been the cause of much discord within the province.  Unfortunately, the province’s Muslim women appear to be suffering the most as formerly closeted bigots feel empowered to step into the light.  Regardless of which side of the debate you stand on, most of us will agree that violence of any kind is not the answer.

Attacks against Muslim women increasing

 

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Which countries have the best multicultural policies?  Does Canada score higher or lower than a seemingly open country like The Netherlands?  Does having good policies necessarily translate into a better quality of life for the minorities living in those countries?  If Québec insists on having a Charter of Values, is France truly the best model to choose?  Diversity is a complex beast.  Québec isn’t the only place that faced with the challenges of cultural plurality.  Which country would you most like to emulate?

Crossroads of diversity

The Multiculturalism Policy Index

 

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