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RACIALIZATION IN 2020
by Howard Rotberg
Have you noticed how various media are using the term “racialized” more often? Have you noticed that there is a lot of advocacy on the need to give special benefits, protections or privileges to “racialized” people? What does that mean?
And aren’t we supposed to act as individuals and judge people as individuals, not as part of a race or ethnicity? Don’t we in the west strive for a colour-blind society? And if we focus on the matters that divide us, how can we ever get along?
Webster-Merriam defines “racialized” as “the act or process of imbuing a person with a consciousness of race distinctions or of giving a racial character to something or making it serve racist ends”.
Does Black Lives Matter serve racist ends although it might seem a matter of racialized ends? Certainly when people are being disciplined at work for saying that All Lives Matter, we have become a racialized culture. Here is one example:
Leslie Neal-Boylan, the dean of the nursing school at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, was allegedly fired after she received backlash from a student about an email to the campus community s for saying: "Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE'S LIFE MATTERS."
“No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe," the email continues, urging the nursing school students to "care for everyone regardless of race, creed, color, religion, ethnicity, ability or gender preference."
A nursing student took issue with the dean's choice of words and posted the email on twitter saying, "including the statement ‘all lives matter’ was uncalled for and shows the narrow minded people in lead positions."
“Narrow minded” in my view describes the people who think that it is immoral to say that all lives matter and who think it is only permissable to care about Blacks. These people portray as “racists” anyone not willing to erase any parts of American history that offends them. They portray as “racists” those who oppose turning sporting events into political protests with separate anthems for whites and blacks or those who oppose political slogans on uniforms or who think all athletes should stand for the American anthem. (Will they be standing for the Black anthem and then sitting down when the American anthem starts?)
When we, like the nursing student mentioned above, seek to make even expressions of good will forbidden, in a quest to serve the racist ends of “Black Power,” we are racialized.
The irony is that Dean Neal-Boylan sees herself as promoting racialization and sadly wrote that she would not be pursuing legal action against the school because "I know this would fuel the conservative opposition to the BLM movement and that would be anathema to me." So we see that even the most committed left-liberal Trumpophobes, are willing to fall on their swords if that will serve to hurt conservatives.
We see, in this context, that the use of words becomes ever more controversial and ever more meaningless. Black Lives Matter, so far an evolving group with an evolving policy platform, decided to pile on the one group that is far more persecuted than Blacks – the Jews. Their policy so far states: “The U.S. justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,” the activists wrote in the platform. They go on to call Israel an “apartheid state.”
This mindless persecution of the Jewish people by telling lies about the Jewish Homeland is anti-Semitic. One can criticize Israel like any other country but when it is surrounded by Muslim countries and terror organizations that call for the wiping out of the Jewish state and back it up with constant firing of missiles at Jewish civilians, or the building of an Iranian nuclear program that is explicit in its goal to target Israel, that is the genocide - not the Israeli attempts to use its very moral army to secure its citizens and its attempts for the last 50 years to obtain peace by consenting to a Palestinian state. In times of moral chaos and cultural crisis we often see people looking around for someone to blame, and historically that has been the Jews. If Black Lives Matter wants to be seen as legitimate, in the long term and not just in the current news cycle of the virtue-signalling leftists in media and education, than it should stop alleging the Jews are committing genocide. The only black genocide going on, in my opinion is by Black Muslims against Black non-Muslims and the most common killers of young black males in America are other young black males. It is an epidemic, but are we not allowed to discuss it?
Quoted in The Atlantic, Cheryl Greenberg, a professor of history at Trinity College who has written about the history of black-Jewish relations in the U.S., reflects on how the word, “genocide” has been redefined by the Left including Black leftists: “In the past 20 years, the word ‘genocide’ has become much broader, and it has come to mean any kind of massive, racialized oppression.” But who is racializing who?
To understand in less than 2000 words the ideological foundations for critical race theory and its transition into theories of racialization and race history, dominance and power is impossible. However, let’s make a start on this quest, as follows:
R. Dyer writing in Intercultural Communication: An Advanced Resource Book for Students (1997) explains how whiteness has been seen as dominance:
“As long as race is something applied only to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm. Other people are raced, we are just people....The point of seeing the racing of whites is to dislodge them/us from the position of power, (my emphasis) with all the inequities, oppression, privileges and sufferings in its train, dislodging them/us by undercutting the authority with which they/we speak and act in and on the world.”
The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre makes clear the currrent thinking on racialization:
“Historically, it has been white people who hold the social, political, and economic power to name and categorize people of colour and Indigenous peoples according to white people's categories of race. As a result, in popular, dominant discourse, the word race has typically been used to refer to people of colour and Indigenous people (i.e., people who were seen by white people as "not like us"/not white). White-skinned people doing the naming/categorizing often categorize themselves as white or Caucasian (and therefore, superior) or they may think of themselves as "raceless" and "normal." This "normalcy" is defined by the assumed "otherness" or "abnormality" of people of colour. In either case, the position of "white" has remained dominant and self-sustaining.
“This process/history is with us today. You may find that the white people you are working with express contradictory ideas about race, such as:
However, I have never identified as “white”. I am a Jew whose ancestors originated (according to my research on my mother’s side of the family) in ancient Israel, who were then expelled by the Romans, and then lived in what is now Portugal and Italy, until being expelled from there and migrating into eastern Europe. My skin colour is olive and when pressed I shall say I am light brown, as anyone can see I am not bright white. The whole issue is bizarre. White and Black are not actual skin colours but are identifications. As my writing is sometimes not acceptable to the mainstream media, and as I have had lectures shouted down by Muslim immigrants who do not believe in free speech, how can I be considered to be part of the power-group known as “whiteness”?
- understanding the ideological (and false) foundations of "race"; they may declare that people are "all the same" (thus erasing/denying the real effects of racism) (my emphasis)
- and/or, they may identify themselves as white (perhaps with some discomfort) but not really know what that means– power? a skin colour? They may be caught between the problematic biological categories and an awareness of whiteness/race as a social construction.”
The Alberta Civil Rights people continue: “Moreover, people of colour and Indigenous people may also internalize and use the racist historical/dominant terms regarding race to define themselves and others because they, too, have been born into this system and discourse. Internalized racism can be defined as “the individual inculcation of the racist stereotypes, values, images, and ideologies perpetuated by the White dominant society about one’s racial group, leading to feelings of self-doubt, disgust, and disrespect for one’s race and/or oneself” (Pyke, 2010, p. 553).”
This is all so strange because racist stereotypes have never worked on my self-imge or made me disgusted with my group, but instead I have devoted my life, firstly as a practicing lawyer and developer of affordable medium density rental housing in converted churches, warehouses and firehalls for modest income working people and then, secondly, writing four books and countless essays and then founding Canada’s sole conservative values publishing house (Mantua Books). So if “racialization” doesn’t ring true as a helpful concept in my life, why should I trust problematic organizations built on this shaky foundation?
But the Civil Liberties people in Alberta go on: “The term racialization ... emphasizes the ideological and systemic, often unconscious processes at work. It also emphasizes how racial categories are socially constructed, including whiteness, but are socially and culturally very real.
“Racialization is the very complex and contradictory process through which groups come to be designated as being of a particular "race" and on that basis subjected to differential and/or unequal treatment. Put simply, “racialization [is] the process of manufacturing and utilizing the notion of race in any capacity” (Dalal, 2002, p. 27). While white people are also racialized, this process is often rendered invisible or normative to those designated as white. As a result, white people may not see themselves as part of a race but still maintain the authority to name and racialize "others."
And so white people are racialized but the process is rendered “invisible” and our power relates to our power to racialize others. This post-modernist deconstruction is of course only understood by the Left.
According to the Alberta civil rights centre, then, “a social order might racialize a group through media coverage, political action, and the production of a general consensus in the public about that group. An individual might racialize another individual or group by particular actions (e.g., avoiding eye contact, crossing the street, asking invasive questions) that designate (an) individual or group as "other" or "not-normal." Racialization is a fluid process. A particular community might be racialized at a point in history but then later "pass into" whiteness (e.g. Italian Canadians). Whiteness and whites can also be racialized but this process must incorporate anti-racist and alliance principles so that whiteness is perceived as a power-base, not a target.”
And so, Jewishness that subjected 6 million Jews to Nazi genocide, including my father’s parents and then 8 year old sister, can now be asserted by the “woke” to have been racialized at one point in history but now apparently has “passed into” whiteness.
However, as in the case of Black Lives Matter, the racialized are now so dominant that large corporations seek to out-do each other in terms of how much money they are now donating to BLM. Universities and government departments are judged on how “diverse” they are. Too few want to examine the thought behind all of this, so I hope that this short exploration of “racialization” has been helpful.
Howard Rotberg is the author of four books on ideologies and values: The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author; Exploring Vancouverism: The Political Culture of Canada’s Lotus Land; Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed; and The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it. He writes periodically for Frontpage Magazine, New English Review, Israel National News. Israpundit, Jewish Voice of New York and The National Telegraph, and has written for other newspapers such as the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Observer, the Waterloo Region Record, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He is president of Canada’s sole conservative values publishing house, Mantua Books, www.mantuabooks.com and lives in Hamilton, Ontario Canada