Eclectic Grounds

conflicts and conversation

Posts Tagged ‘Racism

Cornel West: channeling the rage

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A short talk by the great Cornel West, Princeton professor and author of “Race Matters”, on his childhood and how he learned to channel his feelings of rage into a productive direction.

(via Situationist)


New study compares levels of prejudice, racism and discrimination in several European countries

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A new study by by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and University Bielefeld compared levels and nature of prejudice against immigrants, ethnic-cultural minorities, Jews, Muslims, women, gay men and lesbian women, homeless and disabled people in several European countries. Eight countries were selected for the study: Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Hungary. The results are alarming.

These are some results of the study:

50,4% of the Europeans somewhat or strongly agree that “there are too many immigrants” in their country. This statement indicates a generalized and blind rejection of immigrants.

24.5% supposes that “Jews have too much influence in [country]“. Here, a traditional facet of anti-Semitism appears that mirrors anti-Semitic conspiracy myths.

54.4% of the Europeans believe that “the Islam is a religion of intolerance.” This makes obvious that many Europeans share a generalized negative image of the Islam (and of Muslims as the agreement to additional statements reveals).

Nearly one third (31,3%) of the Europeans somewhat or strongly agree that “there is a natural hierarchy between black and white people”. Thus, they agree to a very blatant and direct statement indicating the belief in ethnic hierarchies legitimised by implied natural differences.

A majority of Europeans of 60.2% stick to traditional gender roles that result in economical and power gender inequality as they are demanding that “women should take their role as wives and mothers more seriously.”

42,6% deny equal value of gay men and lesbian women and judge homosexuality as ‘immoral’.

Download the press release and short report here.

Blackface Journalism

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In a new film, German investigative journalist Günther Wallraff “has a makeup artist cover him in dark brown makeup, he wears brown contact lenses and he dons an afro wig. Then, using the alias Kwami Ogonno, he takes a trip across Germany to discover for himself what it’s like to be black in Germany” (SpOn).

He apparently didn’t think it was more approriate to simply ask black Germans. Instead, he hired a make-up artist, a camera team, he dressed up as an “African” and  went on to release a book and a movie. Supported by predominantly positive media coverage, this concept is a box office hit. Germans seem to be startled: ‘Racism, here?’ – it’s something most people seem to be blatantly ignorant of, unless they are told by a white guy.

The international site of Spiegel Online reports citically:

There’s just one odd thing about the movie: If Wallraff really wanted to find out what it’s like to live as a black in Germany, why didn’t he take the time to let any blacks living in Germany answer the question? […]

Black Germans are on the fence about the film. “We find the mindset behind Mr. Wallraff’s film very problematic,” says Tahir Della, a spokeswoman from the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD). “As is so often the case, someone is speaking forrather than with us.” Noah Sow, an educator and musician associated with the media watchdog organization Der braune Mob (The Brown Mob), even goes so far as to accuse Wallraff of “making money from our suffering” regardless of whether he “really intends to combat (racism) or not.” […]

The main criticism levied against Wallraff’s film is that it fails to portray the debate about racism against blacks in Germany as being as advanced as it really is. For example, Della criticizes the film for “making absolutely no mention” of how much blacks in Germany have organized themselves. “We’re happy that racism is discussed,” he says, “but black groups have been doing the same thing for over 25 years.”

Sow has a similar criticism. “Wherever you look,” he [sic] says, “whether it’s in academia, publishing or the annual reports of anti-discrimination offices, knowledge about everyday racism is present — and accessible with the click of a mouse.” He adds that: “Whites just have to stop ignoring and doubting these findings.” As he sees it, the only reason Wallraff succeeds in drawing attention to the plight of Kwami Ogonno is that he is “privileged in the racist system (over) research results, publications and testimonials produced by blacks.”

Update: see Noah Sow trying to earn a buck by dressing up as Wallraff here.

Written by henrik

November 4, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Only in Tibet…

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On ResetDOC, Michael Dillon comments on violence by the Chinese government against the Uyghur population and points to the underlying structural racism:

If [Uyghurs] don’t speak and read Chinese correctly, then they do not get a job. But they are also excluded for ethnic reasons: Han Chinese prefer to work with Han. Simply, there is a strong anti-Uyghur racism there.

Dillon also comments on the hesitant role of European countries and the US:

The difference is certainly that the Uyghurs are Muslims and Muslims are not very popular in the West right now. Though the main difference is that with Tibet there is an alternative government in exile under the Dalai Lama, so the Chinese have always been able to point at the Dalai Lama and say that he is undermining their control over Tibet. And a lot of Tibetans as we know support the Dalai Lama. That is not the case for Xinjiang. The Uyghurs do look to Central Asian states, such as Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, as a sort of a mother, but there is not an alternative government.

ResetDOC also features two more articles that portray the economic backgrounds of the conflict as well as the role of Turkish language spoken by the Uyghurs.

Written by henrik

August 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Despite crisis, more tolerance toward immigrants and Muslim citizens

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Contrary to the 2008 “Racism and Extremism Monitor” in the Netherlands which observed a hightening negative climate towards Muslims (see my post here), the latest quarterly survey by the Social Cultural Planing Office has revealed a changing attitude of the Dutch towards immigrants.

Over the last 3 months, the amount of people stating that the Netherlends would be better off if it had fewer immigrants sunk from 41 to 35%. The number of people who see a presence of different cultures as an asset increased  from 36 to 44%.

At the same time, a student initiative made headlines that handed out 5,000 headscarfs in orange, the Dutch national colour, for the Queen’s Day celebrations on April 30. Their goal was “to allow Muslim women to express loyalty to their faith as well as to the queen.

Source: Radio Netherlands [1] [2], via Crossroads.

The discourse on Muslim veils in Britain

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Golam Khiabany writes in Race & Class about the current British media discourse on Muslim women and the veil as one of “new othodoxy.” 

From the abstract:

The increased visibility of veiled bodies in Britain today has stirred a response that draws on long-standing orientalist oppositions and reworks them in the current climate of the `war on terror’, connecting them to parallel racist discourses about `threats’ to British culture. Sections of the British media have homogenised the variety of Muslim veiling practices and have presented the veil as an obstacle to meaningful `communication’; an example of Islamic `refusal’ to embrace `modernity’. Veiled women are considered to be ungrateful subjects who have failed to assimilate and are deemed to threaten the `British’ way of life. 

Via Context Discoveries

The social psychology of discrimination

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Several experiments in social psychology have tried to find out about the effects that arbitrary stereotyping and discrimination or privilege and power has on individuals. The most famous of these were the Zimbardo experiments.

Another one of those experience was conducted in a primary school by teacher with herclass of third-graders. To make the kids understand racial discrimination, the teacher split them up according to blue and brown eye colour. One group was defined as superior, the other as inferior.

I recently saw a Frontline documentary about the case filmed 14 years later, in which the former pupils describe the profound effects that the experience had on them. Quite ordinary, white people from a provincial town in the US state Iowa describe the humiliation, anger, demoralisation and hatred they felt at their own personal discrimination – and the feeling of (unfounded) power they got when they were in the dominant group.. 

"A Class Divided"
“A Class Divided” – find the documentary here.

It’s quite intense to see the distress and violence that the participants describe, which resulted from entirely arbitrary faultlines. Experiments like those certainly help us understand the impact of ethnic, religious or any other out-group stereotyping. When talking about “blacks”, “Turks”, “Muslim” or “women” in a discrimatory manner, we usually internalise our role – discimated and disciminators alike. Documenations like the one here can shake us up a little about our everyday behaviour.

Thanks Nayano for digging it up!

Written by henrik

February 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm