Thursday, June 11, 2009

care more about token diversity than actual diversity

Token Black
from "South Park"
(voiced by Adrien Beard, who was recruited
by "South Park" co-creator Trey Parker
"because he was the only black guy we had in our building at the time"

Diversity has been all the rage in American institutions and workplaces for decades now, but many still fail to achieve it. The white people in such places often know they're supposed to be members of a less homogeneous workforce, or campus population, or cast of characters, so they sometimes find ways to create the appearance of diversity. This is much easier than finding ways to achieve actual diversity, which many white people don't really want anyway.

For a lot of white people, appearing diverse is more important than actually being diverse.

Such people can sometimes be heard repeating this mantra of the modern age: "Thank God for photoshop!"

Workers for the city of Toronto recently needed a photo for their city's "Summer Fun Guide," and they apparently wanted to represent their, ahem . . . "fair" city as a diverse place (okay that "fair" isn't fair -- Toronto is actually a very diverse place).

So, instead of finding some real diversity and taking a picture of it, they altered the following image:

Here's the final image that these folks working for the city of Toronto felt satisfied with. Did Token from "South Park" finally grow up, and find work as a diversity model?

Unfortunately, these civic-minded city workers got caught with their diversity down. Allison Hanes of Toronto's National Post even wrote a story about it, which says in part:

The smiling, ethnically diverse family featured on the cover of Toronto's latest edition of its summer Fun Guide was digitally altered to make the photo more "inclusive," which city officials say is in keeping with a policy to reflect diversity.

A spokesman for the department that publishes the guide listing recreation activities confirmed the publication was doctored to insert the face of a different father.

"He superimposed the African-Canadian person onto the family cluster in the original photo. It was two photographs and one head was superimposed over the original family photo," said John Gosgnach, communications director for the social development division.

"The goal was to depict the diversity of Toronto and its residents."

When asked about the altered photo, Kevin Sack, Toronto's director of strategic communications, said, "You won't find a more inclusive organization than us. We want everyone to feel involved and welcome to participate in everything. That's the only goal. Nothing wrong with that."

Right on, Mr. Sack! In these Politically Correct Times, very little is more important than appearing to embrace diversity. As every good director of strategic communications knows, that's much more important than demonstrating actual diversity.

This is pretty clumsy photoshopping, which should inspire a new term -- "photochop." (Oh, wait, that already is a new term. Or maybe an old one -- it's hard to keep up with the Urban Dictionary.)

This photographic insertion of a Token Black Guy -- and it always seems to be a black guy -- in the interests of appearing diverse is nothing new.

In September of 2000, the University of Wisconsin got caught trying to portray its campus as "diverse" with this brochure cover -- can you spot the awkward black guy?

for larger image, click here

As Professor Hany Farid writes at a site advertising his image-tampering detective service,

The original photograph of white fans was taken in 1993. The additional black student, senior Diallo Shabazz, was taken in 1994. University officials said that they spent the summer looking for pictures that would show the school's diversity -- but had no luck.

Which is no surprise, since like most "flagship" state universities, the University of Wisconsin is still struggling -- or supposedly struggling -- to make its student diversity somewhere near that of the state's overall population.

In their bumbling clumsiness, these attempts to keep up appearances might seem like something out of The Onion. Indeed, the writers at that venerable fount of shark-toothed satire seem to have been inspired by the U of Wisconsin's snafu when they wrote a faux exposé, "Black Guy Photoshopped In," accompanied by this image:

Interesting choice for this exquisitely bad photochop -- Iowa State. Iowa is a notoriously white state, but to its credit, many white folks there are anxious about that (after all, their selection of Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries really got his campaign ball rolling).

Are Iowans anxious enough to resort to photochop, in order to appear diverse? Well no, perhaps not -- that's an Onion parody.

The Onion article that accompanies this purposely awkward photo is priceless; it captures the face-saving hypocrisy of university, city, and other diversity-minded officials very well.

Here's part of it -- have you encountered other instances where white folks seem more concerned with the appearance of diversity than with actual diversity?

"Here at Iowa State, we have a remarkably diverse student body, with literally dozens of non-whites," Iowa State director of student affairs Andrea Driessen said. "We thought a picture with at least one non-white happily interacting with whites would be a great way to show off this fact. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pictures of whites and non-whites actually interacting, so we had to make one up."

Said chancellor Dr. Michael Arbus: "An unaltered, or 'real,' cover photo would not have adequately captured the glorious rainbow of multiculturalism that is ISU. We thought it best to take a more illusory, 'less-actual' approach in depicting this school's racial demographic."

The black guy, added using Adobe Photoshop, has been identified as Marcus Jamison. A Shreveport, LA, native, Jamison attended Iowa State for one semester in 1996 before transferring to Grambling University. His face was lifted from a photo of him attending a racial-sensitivity seminar during his freshman orientation and digitally added to the course-catalog cover by graphic designer Brian Tompkins.

"Believe me, this was not an easy task. We combed through hundreds of school-newspaper and yearbook file photos before we found a picture of a black guy," Tompkins said. "Even then, we had to keep searching, because we felt it was important that the black guy be smiling."

Added Tompkins: "If you think it's hard to find a picture of a black guy, try finding a smiling black guy!"

As many white folks know, diversity isn't just a buzzword -- it's important.

In fact, it's almost as important as appearing to have diversity.

Have you encountered this phenomenon, in terms of photos, or other ways of keeping up diverse appearances? Please describe for us in a comment any encounters you've had with these sorts of face-saving white folks.

UPDATE (9/2/09): For more on this, and especially on Diallo Shabazz, the awkwardly posed black guy used and abused by the University of Wisconsin, see Lisa's post at Sociological Images, where she writes in part,

Diallo sued. He didn’t ask for a settlement. He said that he wanted a “budgetary apology.” He asked that, in compensation, the University put aside money for actual recruitment of minority students. He won. Ten million dollars was earmarked for diversity initiatives across the UW system. The irony in the whole thing is that UW requested photos of Shabazz shaking administrators’ hands in reconciliation (i.e., photographic proof that everything was just fine). Oh, and also, the Governor vetoed part of the earmark and many initiatives wore off with turnover.


  1. wow, those black guys they photoshopped in sure are awkward looking...

    anyway, i see this sort of thing at my work (i work for Target, the self-professed "Best Company Ever") and we have periodic employee meetings where the execs remind us that Target embraces diversity. looking around at my fellow employees, it doesn't seem like it. it's mostly white. i think there's only one black person, and two Latinas, but that's about it. Target also puts out a monthly magazine for it's employees, and it's "diversity" is laughable. i live in wisconsin, just outside of Milwaukee. other targets are more diverse, most of them actually in Milwaukee, but the one i work at is pretty white.

  2. Oh yes, I cannot mention much or I will give away the company's but we were trying to win a big contract and the client mentioned our lack of women and PoC in management. Not only did we do some photoshopping, we gave some employees fake titles for the day to impress the client and clinch the deal. It was so pathetic all I could do was laugh and keep my seething anger deep down inside.

  3. I don't have any evidence of photo chopping but I do know the universities I attended and the one I currently work for over represent blacks on their web site and in their campus brochures. It is like they deliberatley seek out minorities on campus to photograph and say "see how diverse we are".

    I went to Ohio State University which was 8% black yet black students made up almost 50% of the students shown in their student housing brochure.

    The university I work for now is in a rural area, the town is 95% white. The university is more diverse than the town but that is because their are a lot of south Asian international students. The campus web site flashes 4 pictures. These photos are usually 75% white students and 25% black students. They never show Asian students even though they are the biggest minority group on campus. There is no way in hell this campus is more than 5% black.

    I have noticed that there is a trend among the town locals of adapting Chinese baby girls. That is a whole nother can of worms.

  4. My son (African-America) attends a predominately white private school. Every year, he ends up in at least one photo per promotional material for the school - flyers, viewbooks, fundraising material, website photo albums/flash intro - he is in every single one. As far as I know, he hasn't been photoshopped into any of the photos that are used but I will keep an eye out for that.

  5. This would be funny if it weren't so manipulative and cynical. Actually it did make me laugh a little.

  6. I haven't noticed anything like this. Living in Atlanta all of my life, it is actually diverse.

  7. What should universities do to attract more students of color?

  8. This is great--I actually wrote about this very same thing on Tuesday in a post called "Tokens and Mascots." I was relating an episode from the Autobiography of Malcolm X to some personal stories from when I was younger.

    So, in academic literature the idea of "tokenism" comes up pretty frequently, but always in regard to minority access to positions of power (i.e. corporate America). Tokenism is portrayed as a way for corporate elites to jook their stats, so to speak.

    But, I think progressives are uniquely susceptible to recruiting "mascots" for their organizations and causes. And the progressives are the ones to watch out for: Typically we think we are doing good, but are in actuality just naive to our white take-over/co-option of whatever multi-racial organization we're apart of.

  9. What the hell? I've lived in Toronto for ten years, and I see mixed-race families on the subway and in stores all the time. I have ZERO doubt that if Toronto Parks and Rec had done even the slightest bit of asking around (hell, just get the Breakfast Television people to mention it on their show, that would have done it), they could easily have found a mixed-race family willing to be photographed.

    Seriously Toronto's one of the most multicultural cities in the world (okay, Toronto claims it's THE most multicultural city in the world, but I don't know if that's true or not) - it's ludicrous that they pulled a stunt like that.

  10. Oh man, my hometown is Toronto and that photo plus accompanying explanation from the spokesperson had me in stitches. Again, great article!

  11. Looks like the dad in the Toronto pic might have a little darker appearance (possibly Middle Eastern, darker Caucasian, or mixed race himself), from the looks of the kids it's possible, but because of the lighting and angles, it appeared too "white" in the final image for what they were trying to do. Since they didn't photoshop the kids too.

    That, or they couldn't be bothered to even go out and get their own picture, and they used an old one or swiped something from somewhere else and claimed it was theirs. Because as Robin commented above, it's *not* hard to find something other than an all-white family in Toronto!

  12. this is so true, universities even include diversity into the mission statements at times, and post the numbers like there are all these people of color on campus, but when you get there its not true. And if you truly scope out the universities pictures its the same few folks of color. Further, diversity has taken on this concept that diversity means we have people of color. Though the university may not have individuals with disabilities, or recognize multiple identities from marginalized groups. And then the student organizations are the ones doing the recruiting, they are being conscious of the fact that a lot of families work and try to have programs that are inclusive of the communities and not just the students that are there. Also, many times once they bring in students of color there are minimal resources and so many white people talk about special treatment. And to counter it, people of color are treated differently everyday. The faculty notice when a student of color is missing because that student may be the only one or one of a few. Or the faculty confuse melissa and vanessa even they they look complete different, height, body type, personality, etc. Its a disgrace indeed. And I would say the same is true for employees. They bring in the diversity to make that institution more inclusive, but when discrimination, harrassment, bias incidents occur they have minimal resources and/or don't know how to respond and make a bad situation worse.

  13. Workers for the city of Toronto recently needed a photo for their city's "Summer Fun Guide," and they apparently wanted to represent their, ahem . . . "fair" city as a diverse place.

    Toronto isn't really a "fair" city. It's about half visible minorities.

    The people in positions of authority tend to be white, though.

  14. Fair enough, Restructure, fair enough (heh heh). I figured that was the case, but I couldn't resist the silly pun while writing the post. And you know something? Right after I wrote it, I had a feeling that you would come around to write what you came around and wrote. (If I remember right, you used to leave comments elsewhere under the name "Torontonian"?)

  15. Yes.

    It's really annoying when Americans think that "Canadian" means white. I've had an experience online where I said I was Canadian, and the American assumed that I was not a POC because I was Canadian.

    When an American assumes that even Toronto is a "fair" city, then it feels like Canadians of colour are being erased, that people are not acknowledging our existence.

  16. Restructure, thank you for solidifying my suspicion that the "fair" in there is really unfair. I've added a parenthetical bit to the sentence in question that I hope will ameliorate misconceptions about the racial makeup of Toronto.

    Btw, I imagine white Canadians think of white Canadians as the "real" Canadians, just as much (though probably differently too) as white Americans think of white Americans as the "real" "all-American" Americans?

  17. You seem to have strategically omitted this paragraph that did not support your pun usage:

    Both the family in the initial photo and the new father inserted were clip art -- stock images that publications sometimes purchase to use as illustrations. None are known to be Toronto residents, Mr. Gosgnach said.

    This is another problem with token diversity in Toronto, which is that stock images of American origin are often used to show diversity. These images don't represent Toronto's diversity, either, because Toronto's racial demographics are different from most racial demographics of the world.

    A photo that accurately represents Toronto's diversity would include at least one White Canadian, one South Asian Canadian, one Chinese Canadian, one Black Canadian, and one Filipin@ Canadian.

    Yet many stock images here look like American stock images. They feature mostly white people, with some Black or Latin@ people.

  18. Yes, the diversity of Toronto is really diverse.

    (And no, fwiw, the omission wasn't strategic.)

  19. Yes, White Canadians think of White Canadians as the "real" Canadians. Sometimes even (White) Canadians think that "Canadian" means white, but those people usually live in small towns.

    When I was in high school (which was majority POC), the teachers warned that the promotional materials for many universities show a false image of diversity, as they use the same people over and over again. I know a Canadian of colour who went to a majority-white Ontario university, and at one point she agreed to be photographed for promotional materials. Her face appears on so many different materials, it's funny.

  20. Of all the black people to shoop into a picture, why did they pick such a creepy-looking one?

  21. Wow, I could go write two or three pages of my feelings on this. Certainly, this represents a host of conerns including racism, whtie privilege, historical exclusion, and current socioeconomic inequality.

    Still, watching white liberals make such a blatant caricature of themselves by doing this really tests my self-control. Simply put, it's hard as hell not to laugh my ass off cause it's just so ridiculous. So, on to my 2 cents.

    This quote is the first one that struck me:
    "University officials said that they spent the summer looking for pictures that would show the school's diversity -- but had no luck"
    Yeah, ummm, maybe the problem is not so much coming up with a picture but, instead, the reality on the ground.

    From the Onion piece, this one made me LOL:
    "If you think it's hard to find a picture of a black guy, try finding a smiling black guy!"
    It found it funny in two different ways. First, it can be thought of from the point of view of a white guy whose has been brainwashed to be scared of the "angry black man". The second way I thought it could be funny is if it is referring to the fact that it's no doubt hard to be black and happy on a campus like that.

    Here's a paraphrase of a funny quote I saw online:
    "When I get a college brochure, the first thing I look for is racial diversity. If I don’t see a few people of color faces in the pictures, I throw it away. Who wants to go to some Podunk college that can’t even afford Photoshop."

    Two other personal observations:
    1) The fact that they photoshop makes them look bad enough. The fact that they mostly photoshop a Black man makes them look worse. I say that because I think that they are treating the "representing diversity" as if were a department the university didn't really like and so allocated minimal funding. Simply put, since black is the furthest thing from white (in skin tone), photoshopping a Black person gives them "the most bang for the buck". They probably think to themselves, "Hell, I'd have to photoshop two Latinos to get the same diversity marketing value as one Black man."

    Finally, nothing screams of insensitivity and white privilege as much as hurting people of color while performing an endeavor that, at least theoretically, is designed to help them. People of color, sadly, always have to be cognizant of their environment....constantly assessing the threat level to their feeling of self-worth. They certainly aren't doing us any favor by artificially lowering our defenses, making us think their institution is a "safe place" for us when it is not.

    Ahhhhhhhhhh.....white people, I can't always count on you for a new surprise.

  22. The education provider (not a university) I work for has a much more interesting approach. About 99% of the student body is non-white in some form (usually either desi or asian). But you wouldn't know it from the literature. White actors were hired for the photo shoots, with only a few shots of actual students included for diversity purposes. This is despite the fact that their primary market is desi and asian international students.

    I'm not exactly sure why they take this tack, to be perfectly honest. Are they trying to make Australians think the place is a good place to go to (unlikely, but possible)? Or do they think that images of whites using facilities will make desi and asian family more likely to send their children abroad?

    Boggles the mind, it really does.

  23. Macon, it's my first time here. I've seen mention of this site everywhere. But, I always thought,"hmm, not for me." I would glance up at the thought bubble above my head and imagine a forum of white people discussing their minor but not really bothersome offenses while ultimately turning it into a laugh-fest that somehow still manages a collective self pat on the back for being so clever... I was soooo wrong.

    So allow me to self correct. This site and the writing is thoughtful, honest and open. I like that you're not trying to be perfect and overly politically correct but just observant. I wish more people were that way myself included. I have a new favorite!

  24. Btw, can I borrow some of this post??
    Also I would like to put you on my blog roll if you don't mind.

  25. Welcome kiss my black ads! I like what you're doing too, and I wish I'd come up with a blog name as clever as yours.

    Sure thing, borrow whatever you like, a lot of what's here is stuff that I borrowed too. After all, "borrowing" (heh heh) is what we white folks do! Actually, I might borrow some of your Chicago-Lake Liquors post. I do try to improve on that common white tendency to, ahem, "borrow," by giving credit where credit is due. (And please do blog roll away, the favor is hereby returned.)

  26. i worked in my undergrad's admissions office. about 30% of the student admission reps were drawn from the 5% or so of students oncampus who were black. i eventually quit giving tours because it felt like such a ruse - i couldn't tell prospectives "this campus is very white, and if you didn't know that the word 'summer' is a verb, it's not for you" without getting fired. the tour guides lied to me when i was a prospective about the ridiculous amounts of rich white privilege coursing through the school, and i just couldnt do it to future students.

    here's a thought. all this "how could we be racist, we elected a black president?!" sentiment that's more prevalent in the public mind than we want to admit seems to stem from a similar (the same? a related?) white tendency. how many senators and congresspeople of color do we have? how many 5 star generals, CEOs, etc? Well, apparently that doesn't matter, so long as we white folks can comfort ourselves with the tangible evidence that "all that is behind us now." white folks love some robust tokenism. actual diversity is not even the goal. insert photoshop.

    then again, i'm just speaking for some white folks i know. does this seem accurate to yall?

  27. Yeah, wow. Those pictures (especially that family photo) look so...awkward...I didn't even think it was real at first.

  28. Restructure! - This is another problem with token diversity in Toronto, which is that stock images of American origin are often used to show diversity. These images don't represent Toronto's diversity, either, because Toronto's racial demographics are different from most racial demographics of the world.

    so much yes to that! not everywhere is like America!

    Kirby1024 --> fellow Aussie here? yippeee!

  29. The comment from Iowa State sums up the problem.

    The data shows these campuses have "diversity" but they can never seem to capture said diversity.

    That's because diversity is not simply throwing a bunch of black people in your school -- inevitably they will feel ostracized and will clump together for support and eventually segregate themselves. Unless you take those lame in-classroom shots, you just won't get a good picture of a mix of students.

    The other thing I wonder about is why they never take a group of non-white students for the cover?

    Oh, wait, I know why...

  30. I cannot stand when they say African-Canadian, because (of course) they're copying the Americans, which have a different (gasp!!) history than Canada. Most blacks come from somewhere in Toronto, like *actual* Africa (pick a country!), South America, Europe, the Caribbean, the US, etc. Adopting that term is usually because they see blackness through American eyes, meaning that blacks are gonna pull a race card at any moment so be on guard. Plus, we must all be from African-America! Hahaha.

    It also has an air of discomfort, where they seem so unable to describe you by any other thing than your race. They're normal (girl with blue shirt), you're racialized (black girl with blue shirt).

  31. I have often wondered where those photos were taken of those smiling Black and White and Latino and Asian-American students just hanging out with each other on my campus. I've been located at a number of universities and I rarely see those scenes, but the photographers always seem to be right there to catch them. It never occurred to me these shots were fabricated. Can we say technologically challenged? Sigh...

  32. Kandeezie,

    What the hell are you talking about exactly?

    Can you clarify?

  33. Kandeezie - I totally get ya! it's silly huh? I don't call myself Asian-Australian... I'm simply *just* Australian, and if anyone assumes that means "white" then they are ignorant.

    I actually cringe when I hear "Asian-American" or "African-American" or "=insert ethnicity=-American" they are not usual terms here in Australia ... I mean, why not "European-American" as well then?

  34. Kandeezle, step away from the incoherent Kool-Aid. This imaginary race card is pulled every day. You are a direct descendent of the race card being played. How hypocritical of you stating that African-Canadians are trying to imitate Americans when you are clearly using some of the pathological terms used by some of my white country people. Move on. If you are so concerned about what people freely choose to label themselves, may I suggest a hobby?

    Gooblygob, if you are Australian, why concern yourself about what some Americans call themselves. You are not walking in their shoes. Cringe? Really. So, what someone chooses to call themselves hinders your life somewhat, especially outside of your country?

  35. gooblyglob,

    Bluntly, I think you are either naive or a white wannabe. Australia might be COMPLETELY different than the United States concerning white hegemony, but, I suspect it is not.

    In America (and I suspect alot of other places), if national identity is the only identity used people of color get disappeared. It's not official and largely non-violent, it just becomes "the way it is". The national identity and white identity become one in the same, from culture to economics to media to politics, and so on.

    It no longer matters that all key political and financial figures look a certain way. It no longer matters that the people who live in poor neighborhoods or in prison (mostly)look a different way. None of these and the myriad of other realities matter. After all, we're all Americans, right?

    In such a situation, it is crucial that those not in the dominant group learn to be proud of who they are. One manifestation is calling yourself Mexican-American, Asian-American, and so forth. It is saying, "I'm just as American and I have my own story to tell". It is also a statement to the dominant group, "We are watching you".

    Without these unique labels, it would be impossible to point out unfair disparities or enforce civil rights laws.

    Finally, in response to your statement, "I mean, why not 'European-American"' as well then?", I, personally, think that is a great idea.

    In context, I took it as a sarcastic statement. But, by saying it, you've actually exposed the folly of your own thinking.

    Whites don't identify as European-Americans because they don't need to. Why switch from identifying yourself as simply "white" or "an American" when both are synonymous and afford you a "higher form of citizenship" that comes with a wonderful benefits package?\

    So, identify yourself however you wish, but, consider that others may have a reason for doing things differently founded in ALOT of adversity, thought, and scholarship.

  36. honeybrown1976 - you don't get it because you are American.

    ok, I don't care what Americans call themselves - just don't apply the same terms to us!

  37. cdwriteme - yeah, I'm a white wannabe LOL woohoo! are you going to tell me that I'm not asian enough because I don't use Engrish too?

  38. "stuff POC do"

    accuse other POC of wanting to be white or "acting white" - talk about self-hate and imposing it on others

  39. honeybrown1976 + cdwriteme - you may not consider yourself white, but you both are fine examples of what non-Americans think of America. Americans think that the only issues that matter... are American ones.

  40. Here's a present for you gooblyglob:

  41. @cdwriteme

    I don't understand the "race card" bit, but using "African Canadian" to refer to "Black Canadians" is trying understand race in Canada through American lens and terminology.

    Wikipedia says "Unlike in the United States, where African American is the most widely accepted term, Blacks of Caribbean origin in Canada largely reject the term African Canadian as an elision of their Caribbean heritage."

    But this is not something I just found on Wikipedia. Most black Canadians I know (in Ontario) refer to themselves as black, not "African Canadian", since they are of Caribbean descent, not descendants of the Underground Railroad travellers.

  42. My college doesn't use actual students in many of its promotional materials. Every couple years they hire some models to come in and hang about campus to get photographed. This is done to over-represent diversity, but also to make the students look more "mainstream" because we have a really shockingly high proportion of weirdly dressed hippies and anarchists. Stuff on the schools website, or stuff shot more recently uses actual students, but generally speaking if there is a shot of diverse quasi fashionable students with backpacks on my campus it means that they are non-students getting paid.

  43. Restructure, I'm not sure why you directed those commments my way. If you look, I responded to ONE comment by gooblyglob. She said she "cringes" when she hears African-American, Asian-American, and so forth.

  44. If any Americans in here talking about their colleges actually wanna name that college so I can LOL, that'd be cool.

    I say Americans in my request cause I would likely be clueless about most universitites outside of America.

  45. @cdwriteme - it sounds awkward and strange and so I cringe. I also cringe at double barrelled surnames. And what do I get? INSULTED! oh no wait... white is right... right? guess you were complimenting me then.

  46. gooblyglob,

    what the hell are you even talking about anymore? Your comments are confusing and seem to be of the "I know you are but what am I" type and quality.

  47. @cdwriteme - let me explain it slowly to you...

    "it sounds awkward and strange and so I cringe. I also cringe at double barrelled surnames." was a response to...

    you saying "She said she "cringes" when she hears African-American, Asian-American, and so forth."

    "And what do I get? INSULTED! oh no wait... white is right... right? guess you were complimenting me then." was a response to...

    you saying "gooblyglob,Bluntly, I think you are either naive or a white wannabe."

    and FINALLY, to this "I know you are but what am I" said by you... I say - I know exactly who and what I am. I'm comfortable and confident in my gender, my ethnicity, my abilities and everything else that I am. So I guess now it's my turn to say to you "what the HELL are YOU on about?"

  48. Well, Gobblygob, since this blog appears to primarily be about the racial dynamic of America, yeah I'm pretty much concerned foremost about my country as I live in it and deal with such a dynamic.

    Australia has its own issues to contend with. While they concerned me a bit, I can't say that I'm overwhelmingly concerned as I believe you clean your house first before going anywhere else.

    Other than the fact that I told you to not concerned yourself about what some of my fellow Americans designate themselves (along with myself), what did I say that anyone else logically would say?

    That "typical American" stereotype is just so cliche and ugly. It's also a lame comeback to avoid the issue of letting others choose what they wish to be called.

  49. honeybrown1976 said
    since this blog appears to primarily be about the racial dynamic of America

    I thought this article was partially about an image generated by Canadians?

  50. Yes, it's a brief example for the topic introduction.

  51. Ooookay, I look Asian and I live in Australia and I'd like to set the record straight...or at least tweak it back on track. I can identify A LOT with much of what is written on this website despite its focus on the US. I believe 'whiteness' (and any other types of privilege) works in much the same way the world over even though the details may differ from place to place. 'Australian' in the Australian imagination is still very much white (Anglo, Irish, Celtic, etc and anyone else who can blend into that).

    Heck, my Australian born friend who is of Asian descent but grew up in the outback and speak with a thick Aussie accent still gets cast as an outsider by mainstream (read: white) Australians quite often. e.g. He was trying to buy a bus pass one day. The cashier lady told him that if he doesn't finish up the credit on the pass before he goes 'home', he can just give it to one of his friends when he goes 'home'. He stood there for awhile totally confused and wondering why he would want to give the pass to someone else on his way home to *insert name of suburb*. Then it finally clicked. The lady thought he was an international student (despite his thick Aussie accent) who would be going back 'home' to China, or Singapore, or Malaysia, etc.

    I think the only reason why the term 'Asian Australian' is not as widely used as 'Asian American' is probably because there's not as many of us around, and we are probably seen mostly as simply 'Asians' without the 'Australian' bit.

    Hyphenated terms definitely are used in Australia. They even have an institute dedicated to Italian Australians ( And the most famous would be 'indigenous Australians' or 'Aboriginal Australians', etc. And I once saw a white Australian girl on TV say about some event, 'It's great that the Aboriginal people and Australians...I mean white Australians are moving closer to each other.' These are not her exact words, but I remember clearly that she had to correct herself when she referred to white Australians as simply 'Australians' as though Aborignal Australians weren't Australians.

    Basically, the issues raised in this website are not peculiar to the US. Though I must say, Australians generally think that Americans are racist and Australians are not. That's probably because as humans we are often blind to our own faults. But if institutional racism and white privilege doesn't exist in Australia, then what was Cronulla? Pauline Hanson? The anti-Asian incidents during Australia Day this year? The current problem with Indian students in Melbourne? How many more of these do we need before we realize there's a problem?

    ...and I've totally digressed from the topic of the original post. Sorry Macon, but I just had to do this. As for the original post - I agree, finding a mixed race family in Toronto wouldn't have been too hard (I used to live there too).

  52. @cdwriteme

    I was responding to your comment to Kandeezie.

  53. @honeybrown1976

    Other than the fact that I told you to not concerned yourself about what some of my fellow Americans designate themselves (along with myself), what did I say that anyone else logically would say?

    We are not complaining about what Americans call themselves. We are complaining about using American or American-based racial terminology in Australia or in Canada. For example, in the original post, they use the term "African-Canadian", when they mean Black Canadian, probably because the model is actually African American.

  54. @fromthetropics - 'Australian' in the Australian imagination is still very much white (Anglo, Irish, Celtic, etc and anyone else who can blend into that).

    that is the current truth but it shouldn't be...

    I've lost count of the number of times I've been told to go back to some random Asian country but that does not make me any less Australian than someone who is of European descent.

    Countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America are made up of more than *just* people of European descendants and I am not willing to accept that I am any less of who I am just because I am not of European stock.

    Maybe some people are ok with having people assume that American or Canadian automatically means "white". It's not ok with me.

    That is all.

  55. @honeybrown1976

    so are you trying to say that Canada was used as a token example but the actual article is about America?

  56. Restructure, I see what you are saying. But, I do know of some black Canadians that use the term because they are, in fact, descendants of American slaves; so, they do so to differentiate themselves that aren't.

    It's not a slight on you.

    Of course, it's being done, you have the right to be upset. However, to feel that you are not hyphenated at all, well there's a grander scheme there.

  57. @honeybrown1976

    I am not saying that no Canadians refer to themselves as African Canadians. In Nova Scotia, there are many descendants of Underground Railroad travellers.

    What I am saying is that in Canada, "Black" (Canadian) is the racial category, while Jamaican (Canadian), Trinidadian (Canadian), Nigerian (Canadian), African Canadian, etc. are the ethnic categories. This is different from in the United States, where Obama is of Kenyan descent, not of "slave" descent, but still refers to himself as African American. "African American" is the racial category.

    Assuming that the Photoshopped head belongs to a Canadian, we cannot assume from his race that he is African Canadian, but we would know that he is Black Canadian. Assuming that the Photoshopped head belongs to a Torontonian, he is more likely to be of Caribbean descent, since black Torontonians tend to be of Caribbean descent.

    The usage of "African-Canadian" to refer to the head shows a racial ignorance typical of White Canadians (although I do not know if John Gosgnach is white). White Canadians know more about race in the United States than race in Canada, because of the pervasiveness of American media over Canadian media even in Canada.

    I didn't even say anything about hyphenation. FYI, gooblyglob identifies as both Asian and Australian, but she doesn't do the hyphenated identity. What is the grander scheme, exactly? That not everywhere works like America?

  58. Wow-This is the silliest thing I've ever witnessed. I'm sure if someone from the freaking school news paper would have just walked into the library-they could have snapped a few photos of African-Americans-smiling and studying with other races. This is crazy.

  59. The American college brochures are interesting to me. My Canadian university, by contrast, currently has two students represented in their website's 'flash' intro; one is black and the other appears to be of First Nations or Inuit background. Neither is dressed or posed in conventional 'US-style' middle-class college student fashion. I'm not sure what the school's actual demographics are, although it appears that PoC make up, perhaps, close to half the student body.

  60. The Equality and Diversity policies that some institutionalised organisations have in place is not worth the paper it is written on.

    These meaningless policies are just cosmetic. When it comes down to it, a lot of these institutions do what they like regardless of what is stated in their "Diversity" policies.

    For example, employing x% of minorities, women etc to make themselves look good to the outside world in order to appear to be tolerant.

    When you actually go higher up in the organisations hierarchy or should I say pyramid structure, you begin to see that these organisations do not make these same representations at corporate or board level, unsurprisingly.

    An example is a University where I used to work, on the face of it, they have a huge number of foreign students and POC and then when you look deeper, the lecturers and board members are mostly white. Of course they want to usher in the foreign students because that is where the majority of the money the institution makes comes from.

    Alos, it never really fails to surprise me when I see a person who is poorly qualified for a job but gets it because of who they know within the organisation, and not actually what they know. In turn, when qualified and assertive fresh new members of staff show up, especially "minorities", these stagnant and one track, tunnel vision thinkers become threatened and do everything in their power to get rid of these promising staff members because of their prejudices and xenophobic attitudes.

    In these organisations it is usually one rule for one group of people and another rule for everybody else, interestingly.

  61. to all the people here complaining about the term "Americans" or "Canadians" being used only for whites- it is the "minority" groups themselves that perpetuate this use...i spend alot of time with different races and they are the ones that say "american" meaning white, and never refer to themselves or others as "american", rather they say Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arab, whatever...fill in the blank

  62. Yellowwood this is b/c they do not feel accepted as Americans IN America.

    The minority cannot create a system through which it oppresses itself w/o total support from the majority. So, what you're saying is actually impossible.


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