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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Defining Canadian Racism and White Privilege

Defining Canadian Racism and White Privilege
Wilburn Hayden, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, York University
White Allies in Anti-Racism Workshop. Hamilton UU 1st March 10, 2018

Racism is the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors based on race that result in one race or individuals of that racial group being disadvantaged because of race.

White privilege is unearned racial advantages that whites as a group and as individuals have that result in oppression by disadvantaging blacks as a group and as individuals. This is not to be confused with earned privileges, such as formal education. In Canadian society) white privileges are more about attitudes and informal practices of whites, other ethnic groups and other blacks that disadvantage blacks. White privilege is locked into the norms of our community culture.  People on both sides of the race line have come to accept incidents as just part of getting along. 

At the core of white privilege is the general presumption that whites are entitled to certain informal practices because they are white, rather intentional or non-intentional. While whites as a group and individuals tend to benefit in more life chances and a higher quality of life from these informal practices, black Canadians find themselves at a disadvantage. For blacks as a group and as individuals, the results often mean reduced life chances and lower quality of life.

Many white people, especially those of whom who have made or making it in Canadian society, like to think that they got to where they are today by virtue of their merit, hard work, intelligence, and maybe a little luck. The story about my grandparent(s) had $20 when they arrived has become Canadian folklore. And while they may be sympathetic to the plight of others, many whites close down when they hear words like "affirmative action," "racial preferences" or “white privilege”. They will tell you that they and their early generations worked hard for what they have; they will say they made it on their own. You hear such comments like, “Why don't 'they do it like we did? After all, my grandparents came here with nothing and made it.”

What they don't readily acknowledge is that racism and white privilege have had a long, institutional history in our country. Often it is described as Canadian history, when in fact it lacks significant inclusion of the contributions made by Indigenous people, black people and other non-white populations.

Reaping the Rewards of Racial Preference
Rather than recognize how racial preferences and white privilege have tilted the playing field and give whites a head start in life. Most Canadians and other ethnic groups continue to believe that race does not affect their lives. Instead, they chastise blacks for not achieving what they have; they even invert the situation and accuse black people of using "the race card" to advance themselves.
Or they suggest that differential outcomes may simply result from differences in "natural" ability, culture or motivation.

However, sociologist Dalton Conley's research shows that when we compare the performance of families across racial lines, not just the same income, but also hold similar net worth, a very interesting thing happens: many of the racial disparities in education, graduation rates, welfare usage and other outcomes disappear. The "performance gap" between whites and nonwhites is a product not of nature, but unequal circumstances resulting from racism that foster racial preferences and white privilege.

Canadians who like to boast about our colorblind society in which we treat everyone the same, no exceptions, are often counter-posed against efforts to level the playing field for blacks. But colorblindness today merely bolsters the unfair advantages that color-coded practices have enabled white Canadians to accumulate over time. It's a little late in the game to say that race shouldn't matter, because in this nation, racism has always mattered.

Black people have been a part of this nation from the beginning. We have been active participants in its developments, struggle, economic success and every aspect that defines Canada. We have also been subject to racism, prejudice, discrimination, racially induced poverty and powerlessness throughout that history and remains so in our contemporary times.

Race, and social and economic justices are significant areas for Unitarians and embedded in our seven principles and secured within our proposed 8th principle. The constructs of racism and white privilege are barriers you encounter while working with black individuals, within the black community, and in our personal lives rather we are black or white. Depending on whether you are black or white, most of us will experience or have experience racism and white privilege differently.

Racism and white privilege have been identified as a significant barriers to preventing blacks from achieving equity in communities throughout the Canada.  At the core of racism and white privilege is the general presumption that whites are entitled to certain informal practices because they are white.  While whites as a group tend to benefit in more life chances and a higher quality of life from these informal practices, blacks find themselves at a disadvantage.  The results often mean, for blacks as a group, reduced life chances and lower quality of life. The bottom line is that black access to societal opportunities is limited and each racial barrier lessens life quality for black people in our society.

Within Canadian society, race and ethnicity becomes a defining measure for white privilege. Whites are at the top of the order for white privileges. Our early history of welcoming mostly white Europeans is also the beginning point for ordering white privilege. Each newly arriving nationality found their place on the white privilege hierarchical order. Each newly arriving immigrant took possession of their place of privilege as black Canadians, first as slaves and later as freed second class citizens remained at the lowest run of the order.  

White privilege is a vehicle for examining racism. By identifying white privilege and other aspects of racism one can get a clearer understanding of racial prejudice and racial discrimination of black people, and racial barriers for black people. This understanding is a start to creating actions for addressing matters of race, and social and economic injustices that continue to remain as societal barriers confronting black people.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Martin Luther King: Resilience and His Message for Canada Then and Now

Martin Luther King: Resilience and His Message for Canada Then and Now  

Patricia Trudeau, MSW, MEd, Candidate for UU Ministry, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto
Wilburn Hayden, PhD, Professor, York University School of Social Work
Donovan Trudeau Hayden, BA Student,  Third Year, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hamilton
January 14, 2018

Intro by Service Leader: Mary Ellen Scanlon
Resilience is the word that comes to my mind when I remember MLK. A common understanding of resilience is the ability to overcome risks and being able to move forward in a right direction of positive and progressive change.  There are three presumptions associated with resilience: that it can be acquire by anyone if they follow a prescribed course of action; that equality exists amongst all individuals and communities; and that anyone can learn to take the right action.  With these presumptions comes an understanding that people living in marginalized or racialized communities affected by social barriers should be able to foster individual resilience just as easily as people living in privilege communities.

Understanding resilience in this way places responsibility on the individual to overcome risks and disadvantages in spite of societal barriers. King’s work asked us to think differently about resilience. Our Second Principle: justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, also ask us to include an understanding beyond individual responsibilities and efforts.

King asked us then, and now to see resilience as a tool in addressing racism and discrimination of blacks and others living within our marginalized communities. He challenged us to go deeper in our use of resilience to see racial issues through systemic inequalities. He demonstrated a need to shift resilience away from individual change or charity work to addressing racial structural barriers. By reconceptualising resilience beyond the individual, he directed his actions toward creating racial change at societal level rather than at individual blacks living within marginalized communities. King advocated for change in social arrangements and traditions, legislations, public accommodations and commerce to affect structural inequality rather than placing blame and responsibility onto individuals.

 Having coming of age as a black activist, I skipped past King’s Civil Rights struggle going directly to the radical black struggle. At the time, I had no time for MLK approaches. In retrospect, the two approaches were closer to each other than any of us knew. Especially, in how our strategies related to resilience as a tool for creating racial change.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Hamilton 1st UUC, 170 Dundurn St. South, Hamilton January 14, 2018 

Service Leader: Mary Ellen Scanlon 
Speakers: Pat Trudeau, Wilburn Hayden and Donovan Hayden

Celebrating the Life of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Words and Song 
Martin Luther King’s inspiring words and actions remind Unitarians everywhere to work for racial, economic, and international justice. We remember MLK’s words as we stake our claim in opposing racial inequality and racial oppression in Canada. We sing in honour of the civil rights movement lead by King. 

Joining Pat Trudeau, Hamilton 1st Intern Minister are York University Social Work Professor, Dr. Wilburn Hayden, and Donovan Hayden, third year undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Upstate New York. The two Haydens have written a chapter on Canadian slavery for an upcoming University of Toronto Press book. 

Pat Trudeau is serving at Hamilton 1st as Intern Minister.  She is a seminary student at Emmanuel College in Toronto and UU Candidate for Ministry.  Pat enjoyed previous careers in social work, academia, and children’s religious education before hearing the call to ministry.  She and her family have been active in Neighborhood UUC in Toronto.   Pat has a wealth of skills and interests in pastoral care, social justice (particularly focused on her work in diversity and building skills as a white ally), teaching, and dance.

Wilburn Hayden has been a university professor and social worker since 1973. He teaches and writes from critical race and anti-oppression perspectives. Growing up in the segregated south, he knows of the racial injustice struggle in the USA and Canada first hand. His practice experiences include being the chief social worker in a state prison, organizing within
disadvantaged communities, directing a human services agency, and involvement in political campaigns in North America. His teaching has taken him to South Africa, Kurdistan (Iraq), Nigeria and Guyana. He is the author of a book on Black Appalachia and is currently researching the lives of blacks in Canada (from the past to the present). 
Donovan Hayden is the son of Wilburn and Pat. He is a third year student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, double majoring in Africana Studies and Sociology. In February 2018, he heads off to South Africa for the winter semester at Rhodes University.  YOUTH PERSPECTIVES | RACE IN THE TRUMP ERA: COMING TO GRIPS WITH CANADA’S OWN RACIAL PAST AND PRESENT” for The Exchange by YouthREX 
For the past two summers he worked with YouthREX as an intern, and posted a blog in November:
http://exchange.youthrex.com/blog/youth-perspectives-race-trump-era-coming-grips-canada%E2%80%99s-own-racial-past-and-present. The ideas were excerpted from his talk “Upholding Our Second Principle: The Myth of Canadian Multiculturalism” at NUUC (Neighbourhood Congregation) in summer 2017 and were recently brought to the attention of the CUC Board. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Race in the Trump Era: Coming to Grips with Canada's Own Racial Past and Present

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Youth Perspectives | Race in the Trump Era: Coming to Grips with Canada’s Own Racial Past and Present
Posted November 16, 2017 InracismdiversitymulticulturalismamericaprivilegeOBYAP

 by Donovan HaydenYouthREX Summer Intern and BA student, Hobart College

   "I'm moving to Canada!"
As a Canadian attending college in the United States, this is a phrase I’ve heard many times from Americans. They seem to always threaten to move to Canada when things are not going their way. I had gotten used to telling Americans that I was Canadian and hearing them joke about moving to Canada. I would laugh and follow up by making a comment about free health care. During the election season last year, I began to hear this phrase, “I’m moving to Canada,” more and more as Donald Trump gained momentum and then surprisingly became the 45th president. His anti-immigration stance and refusal to disavow White supremacists only heightened the sense that Canada could be a beacon for Americans seeking a more racially and socially just society.  Then I began to take exception to Americans making this proclamation.
What made this time different was less about what was happening in the US and more about how Canada was being portrayed as a sanctuary of liberalism, inclusivity, and above all multiculturalism: the very antithesis of Donald Trump. When I would return to Canada over breaks, Canadians seemed to take pride in being the new liberal saviour of the world. 
I was often asked, “So how is it being in the US during the current political climate?” Sometimes the person sincerely wanted to know what it was like to be immersed in living history, akin to being a teenager during the late sixties. Most of the time, Canadians were really asking, “As a black person, do you feel safe in a racist country?” with the expectation that I would gratify them with a response along the lines of, “It’s hard, I’m glad to be back in Canada where I am safe and respected”. That is the answer Canadians want but it is not the answer I give.

Frankly, I find it infuriating that Canada is being self-congratulatory while Black Canadians are being forgotten, undercut, and oppressed by our racist systems. Canada is imagined as an inclusive and benevolent nation; a safe haven for marginalized groups as the world becomes increasingly more exclusive. Toronto is praised as the epicenter of multiculturalism. Privileged Canadians – more often than not, White and/or middle to upper class, heterosexual individuals – constantly speak about the exchange of cultures that occurs in Toronto through festivals and living in proximity to other ethnicities. But if this is an exchange, then Black people have been, as Somalian youth would say, ‘kawaled’. Ripped off.

Plainly stated, the benefits that White Canadians receive from multiculturalism,
Black Canadians do not. 
To those defending multiculturalism I ask, how did multiculturalism protect Dafonte Miller, a black youth a year younger than me who lost his eye after being beaten with a metal pipe by a police officer? Where was Canada’s benevolent multiculturalism for Charline Grant, a black mother that was called ‘N-----’ by a trustee of the York School Board while trying to advocate for her son? How are newcomer Black Canadians benefiting from multiculturalism when they are deskilled by a discriminatory labour market that refuses to acknowledge their previous employment experiences because it is not Canadian experience? All these examples of racism occur right here in our “inclusive multicultural city”. Toronto’s multicultural exchange is, more often than not, one-sided. 
Multiculturalism does not address systemic racism but it does provide labour, entertainment, and the allusion of culture to “real Canadians”.  Multiculturalism does not address systemic racism, nor does it allow for the space and language to talk about racism and oppression. Instead, we are forced to 'celebrate' our cultures in often superficial and essentializing ways. 

Yes, the president of the United States is an orange, racist demagogue that has a base of White supremacists but these racial issues have always existed. Trump just helped to shine a light on them and magnify them. The country is now forced to face these racial issues. As white supremacists become increasingly bolder in their hatred, the boldness of resistance has increased as well. 

Just like in the United States, anti-Black racism is a part of Canada’s fabric too. 

Trump’s presidency does not make us Canadians progressive by default. We rightly abhor the rhetoric of Donald Trump and his supporters but wrongly ignore our racial past, pretending that racism stops at the border. So how did our inclusive multicultural nation react when that same White supremacist rhetoric was being used within our borders? We passively addressed it and continued turning our attention southward. In Canada, we attempt to keep racism at an arm’s length. That is a luxury White Canadians have, to say, “I don’t want to be around all that racist stuff”. Dafonte Miller didn’t have that choice; Charline Grant didn’t have that choice; I don’t have that choice; the black people in this country don’t have that choice. It’s time for Canadians to take action. 
In fact, I am hopeful that most Canadians have good intentions, but are simply not as aware of Canada’s own racist history, and how racism and oppression are still prevalent today. This summer was reassuring for me that there is political will to address these systemic issues as I attended and participated in community-engaged sessions organized by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services as part of the recently launched Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, a four-year, $47 million plan that will address the disparities in outcomes from anti-Black racism that Black children and youth in Ontario experience. 
I am looking forward to coming back to Canada after college and helping build a country that could truly be a world leader in inclusivity and diversity.  But as for multiculturalism, you can forget that. I want more for all Canadians. I want justice, equity, and compassion in our human relations.

1 I acknowledge that other marginalized groups in Canada, such as Indigenous peoples, also face significant oppression within Canadian systems. This blog post is a personal reflection, and, as such, is focused on the black experience.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 10:30am
"Fish and Black Slaves: The Canadian Maritimes and the African Slave Trade"
Wilburn Hayden
Service leader: Melanie

http://www.ufnwt.com/tp.gifWhile residents of Maritime Canada may not have owned large numbers of slaves, the enslavement of Black people did occur there and in other regions of Canada before Britain ended slavery within the colonies in 1834. Not a great deal is known about the transportation and sale of Black men, women, and children in the Maritimes during the days of the British Empire, but an examination of shipping records from this period reveals that this transportation and sale was indeed an important form of commerce. This talk, based on records of ships that docked at ports in the Maritimes, will shed light on the arrival of Black human cargo into Atlantic Canada during the 16th to the 19th centuries.

http://www.ufnwt.com/tp.gifDr. Wilburn Hayden, Jr., is a Professor in the School of Social Work at York University. He earned his B.A. from St. Andrews University, his M.S.W. from the University of North Carolina, and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Wilburn has taught at nine American and Canadian public universities. He is a social work educator and practitioner, a community organizer, and an Appalachian Scholar. Currently, his major research interest is the slavery and early history of black Canadians.

55 St. Phillips Rd.
Etobicoke, Ontario
M9P 2N8
Tel: 416-249-8769

Wheelchair accessible.