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Race, Racism, and Skepticism. Ian Cromwell crommunist.wordpress.com October 1 st , 2010. Race, Racism and Skepticism. What is Race? What is Racism? What can we do? How can skepticism help?. Who I am. Born here in Vancouver, moved to Vernon Moved to Ontario at age 10

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Race, Racism, and Skepticism


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    1. Race, Racism, and Skepticism Ian Cromwell crommunist.wordpress.com October 1st, 2010

    2. Race, Racism and Skepticism • What is Race? • What is Racism? • What can we do? • How can skepticism help?

    3. Who I am • Born here in Vancouver, moved to Vernon • Moved to Ontario at age 10 • Undergraduate career at Waterloo, graduate degree at Queen’s • Moved back to Vancouver about 1 year ago

    4. The Crommunist Manifesto • Official launch, February 2010 • Race, religion, free speech, humanism • Featured 3 times on Pharyngula

    5. What is Race? • Definition 1: Skin Colour? • Ian’s story • E*****’s story • Azza’s story

    6. What is Race? • Definition 2: Entirely social construction? • Tiger’s story • SLUG’s story

    7. What is Race? • Definition 3: My (working) definition • Race is what happens when how other people see you intersects with how you see yourself • No different from other forms of identity

    8. What is Racism? • Ian’s story

    9. What is Racism? • Ian’s story • A*****’s story

    10. What is Racism? • Ian’s story • A*****’s story • H*****’s story

    11. What is Racism? • The attribution of personal traits to an individual, or group of individuals, based on ethnic background. • Merriam-Webster: • “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”

    12. What is Racism? “Whites may have been horrified by the fire hoses and police dogs turned on children, but they could rest easy knowing that neither they nor anyone they’d ever met would do such a thing. But most racism—indeed, the worst racism—is quaint and banal. There’s nothing sensationalistic about redlining or job discrimination.”

    13. Who is Racist? • “I’m not trying to be racist but…” • “Race isn’t important to me.” • “I don’t see race.” • “But my best friend is black!”

    14. Why is Racism? • RACISM IS ENDEMIC TO THE SYSTEM! • Pattern-seeking animals • Race-based inequalities

    15. What can we do? • Option 1: Racism is not a problem anymore • Election of black president, First Nations cabinet ministers, MPs of various backgrounds • Equal voting, housing, employment rights guaranteed by law • Violent racism a thing of the past

    16. Racism is not a problem anymore

    17. Racism is not a problem anymore

    18. Racism is not a problem anymore

    19. Racism is not a problem anymore

    20. Racism is not a problem anymore

    21. Racism is not a problem anymore • Pretending it isn’t there doesn’t make it go away • Not merely isolated incidents • Power makeup vs. demographics • Education, housing, employment largely unofficially segregated • Racial profiling still alive and well • Immigration policy, treatment of First Nations • Grants assent to back-door racism

    22. What can we do? • Option 2: Be colour-blind • Take no notice of, or intentionally ignore racial differences of others • If I treat all people the same, then I cannot be racist • “Race doesn’t matter”

    23. Colour-blindness (Tynes & Markoe 2010) • 217 UofIllinois students • 169 white • 48 black • Administered Color-Blindness Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS) • Shown racist imagery taken at parties, asked for comment • Responses categorizes as “not bothered”, “not bothered/ambivalent”, “bothered/ambivalent”, “bothered”

    24. Colour-blindness (Tynes & Markoe 2010) • CoBRA mean • White students: • 3.23 • Black students • - 2.77

    25. Colour-blindness (Tynes & Markoe 2010)

    26. Colour-blindness • Colour-blindness only works if: • Everyone is blind • There aren’t real racial disparities • “Race doesn’t matter” – to whom? • Study of race is like study of religion • Tim Wise: Colour-muteness is more accurate • Ignoring race doesn’t make its effects go away

    27. What can we do? • Option 3: Redraw in-group concepts • Change definition of “us” and “them” • Support programs that substitute race-based definitions for more positive alternatives

    28. Redraw in-group concepts(Sharif et al. 1961) • 22 boys selected, matched for income, age, behaviour, other characteristics • Invited to summer camp in OK • Separated into 2 groups • Allowed time for in-group fostering • Groups introduced to each other • Immediate segregation and identification of “ours” and “us” • Group names formed in opposition to others

    29. Redraw in-group concepts(Sharif et al. 1961) • Intense animosity grew between groups as they competed • Deteriorating sportsmanship, pranks/raids, name-calling • Strong preference for members of own group when polled by researchers • Those of lowest status expressed strongest antipathy toward out-group

    30. Redraw in-group concepts(Sharif et al. 1961) • Mere group contact did not reduce hostility • Non-competitive games • Eating together • Watching movies • Necessary co-operation almost immediately reduced hostility • Drinking water problem • Selecting a movie • Pulling the truck

    31. Redraw in-group concepts(Sharif et al. 1961) • Self-reported attitude to “out-group” drastically improved after mutual struggle

    32. Redraw in-group concepts • Not a 100% conclusive result • Would attitudes have changed given enough time? • Not completely eliminated • Suggestive that in-group bias diminishes in the presence of mutual collaboration • Definition of “white person” • Waves of immigration • 2010 Winter Olympics

    33. How can skepticism help? • Bring science and evidence to bear • Christopher DiCarlo’s “We are all African” campaign • Genetic evidence of equality • Examine racial prejudices, effects • Demand rationality in racial discussion • Realize that “race” is an ephemeral concept • Scientific examination of racial disparity • Humanist goals suit equality

    34. Next Steps • Increase dialogue about race • Reduce stigma about the word ‘racism’ • Make claims about race based on evidence, not emotion • This needs to happen on both sides • Promote equality, humanism, civil rights

    35. Thank You