Tag Archives: othering

How we (still) use race to identify people…

22 Jun

I’ve been thinking a lot about the two recent shootings in Toronto and the role of race in how media gets reported.

Turns out I’m not the only one – earlier this week the morning DJs (Mark and Jem) on G 98.7FM brought it up and a few people called in.  True, the Eaton Centre shooting affected more people than the one on College Street this week, but how race is reported when crimes occur is an interesting topic of conversation from a diversity perspective. Race is a factor – not the only one, but a factor nonetheless in how media is reported. The question is, why? And why is it still happening in Toronto in2012?

Although the print media didn’t reveal the race of the Eaton Centre shooting suspect, the radio news apparently did.  The College Street suspect, on the other hand, was not racially identified.

The Eaton Centre shooting seems to also have been more widely covered by the news. Granted, more people were affected at the Eaton Centre, it’s a mall, and it is a popular tourist destination. But they both happened in public spaces.

If you pay attention to how suspects are identified in the news, you may notice that we are much more likely to hear about their skin colour if the suspect is not white.  It can’t be a numbers thing, since people of colour make up close to half of the city’s population (47% in the 2006 census).  It is therefore not about making it easier to narrow down the search.

So what gives?

Seems like regardless of numbers, people of colour are still the “Other”, and skin colour is still used as a marker of difference – when the person is not white. The result, in the case of crimes, is that “suspect” and “person of colour” are likely more closely linked in our subconscious…and voila, we have further ingrained stereotypes.

And it’s not just the media: skin colour is also a not-so-uncommon descriptor in personal life as well –  but again, usually only if the person isn’t white.  Pay attention for the next little while, and see.

Hmm….maybe we haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.


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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion



Faith at Work III

5 Dec

Sometimes at a conference, we are challenged by the people in the seats, as well as by those on the stage. The Diversity@Work conference put on by Skills for Change on November 9th was no exception.

The panel discussion (When is a hat not just a hat?)  was interesting; we heard from a Minister, a former Buddhist Monk, and Immam, and a Rabbi. To me, there was a common message of taking more time to talk, to listen, to ask questions, and to get to know each other, and to not be afraid to name and talk about the things that are happening around us so that we can learn from and support each other; all amazing calls to action.

But there was something nagging at me that I couldn’t put my finger on until someone stood up and asked a question about power and privilege. Ah…

She pointed out that we were still using words like “tolerance” and “ethnic” and “hospitality” in this discussion that suggest an Us and Them approach. What we weren’t talking about, she continued, was the way the dominant culture has been woven, seemlessly, into not just what we do, but how it is done. When, and how were we going to talk about that? she asked.

There was applause.

Sadly, although there were responses, no one actually addressed her question. I think we just don’t know how to have that conversation. And I think we spend so much time talking about accommodating and recognizing the other that we don’t realize that this in itself is perpetuating the Us vs Them. Until we see that and recognize it, we will continue to welcome others into our space, but not really create spaces for all.

It’s time to change the conversation!

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

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