Category Archives: academia

University course not suitable for “oriental people”

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Some racist news from abroad, spotted over at the Resist racism blog… In Wales, an Asian woman has accused a university of racism after she was apparently told that an accountancy course might not be suitable for “Oriental people”: University in ‘Oriental’ race row.

Odgerel Hatenboer, who is originally from Mongolia, attended an open day at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, with the hope of enrolling for an accountancy course. However, she was told my a staff member that the course might not be suitable for “people like you, Oriental people”:

She said: “The man said something like ‘I’m not saying you’re Chinese but people like you, Oriental people, tend to accept what is written in the books and what the lecturer says, whereas this kind of course is nothing like you have studied in the past, it requires more analytical skills, you will have to do more yourself.”

Right. Whatever the hell that means. The guy apparently didn’t even ask about her background or qualifications. Just one look at this Oriental lady and a quick judgment. Thanks for the advice, now kindly shut the hell up. By the way, she happens to have a masters in development economics from the University of Manchester and holds a diploma from the Association of Accounting Technicians. Oh snap!

Ms. Hatenboer completed the application form anyway. She was told it would be passed on to the relevant department and she’d hear from the university within a week… However, when she later checked on the status of her application, she found out it had never been received. Where did it go? It’s a mystery! That’s racist!

Casting Out: Exploring the Racialization of Muslims

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I just finished reading Sherene H. Razack’s Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law & Politics (2008). And I gotta say, it blew me onto my ass.

Razack is the author of several books, including Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race, and Culture in Courtrooms and Classrooms, and her work in race theory definitely shows in Casting Out. She uses plenty of theory and excellent cross-racial examples to illustrate that what’s currently happening to Muslims in the West (racialization that results in “the expulsion of Muslims from the political community, a process that takes the form of stigmatization, surveillance, incarceration, torture, and bombing”) has happened to other groups before.

She first argues that Muslims are racialized through “race thinking”, which “divides up the world between the deserving and the undeserving, according to descent.” The racialization of Islam and Muslims is something the editors and I have been wanting to address on Racialicious for awhile, but I haven’t quite known how to begin; Razack’s book provides the perfect springboard.

Islam is represented in mainstream media as South/West Asian brown-skinned people who are bearded and turbaned or veiled and hidden: this racializes Islam.

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Picking at The Root. (Again).

by Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at Post Bourgie

Okay, so we know we pick on The Root a lot around here. It’s not that it always sucks, just that it routinely offers up some real head-scratchers.

Por ejemplo. In today’s edition, Delece Smith-Barrow offers her rationale in deciding to go to a predominantly white university. Seems pretty innocuous, right? I mean, most black college students/grads claim ‘white schools’ as their alma maters. But just in case you don’t think so, Smith-Barrow has some some preemptive and completely unsolicited defensiveness for that ass.

At my private, predominantly white high school, I was one of eight African-American students in my graduating class. After that, the idea of being in an all-black academic setting seemed overwhelming. I would have to go from one end of the racial spectrum to the other, and after four years of all-white, all the time, I was tired of extremes. While the idea of going to school with more people who looked, acted and even sounded like me was definitely alluring, the idea of various shades of humanity co-existing within the parameters of one campus intrigued me much more. I wanted to be a part of that experience. I wanted to teach others about my race while also learning about theirs through everyday interactions, dynamic classroom discussions and events that promoted mixing and mingling across color lines.

Get it? See, she was ‘tired of extremes,’ and so opted for an environment that was most like the one she was leaving. Annoyed yet? No? Okay. Here’s more.

We could teach other races an important lesson on what it means to be black and nix some erroneous, preconceived notions about our race. For the white student whose only knowledge of black people has come from BET, we could show him that we don’t all aspire to be rappers. This learning experience could also go both ways and prove to blacks that not all white people are The Man.

Ah, there we go. That good problematic, served up piping hot. Now, one of the problems with debunking stereotypes is that, well, there’s no real way to do so. Whenever a white teacher told me I ’spoke well,’ I was never operating under any assumption that this ‘compliment’ would spur some reevaluation of her ideas regarding the intellectual capacities of Negros in general — in her mind, I was just not like the rest of them. If you’re a Jewish person who also happens to be a spendthrift, to the bigot who lazily clings to that stereotype, you’re just the exception to the rule. Continue reading

The elephant in the living room

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

In its current issue, Greater Good magazine ponders “Are we born racist?” and in the article “Look Twice,” Susan T. Fiske, Ph.D., Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, offers some bad news and good news:

Most people think they’re less biased than average. But just as we can’t all be better than average, we can’t all be less prejudiced than average. Although the message—and the success so far—of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign suggests an America that is moving past traditional racial divisions and prejudices, it’s probably safe to assume that all of us harbor more biases than we think.

Science suggests that most of us don’t even know the half of it. A 20-year eruption of research from the field of “social neuroscience” reveals exactly how automatically and unconsciously prejudice operates. As members of a society with egalitarian ideals, most Americans have good intentions. But new research suggests our brains and our impulses all too often betray us. That’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news: More recent research shows that our prejudices are not inevitable; they are actually quite malleable, shaped by an ever-changing mix of cultural beliefs and social circumstances. While we may be hardwired to harbor prejudices against those who seem different or unfamiliar to us, it’s possible to override our worst impulses and reduce these prejudices. Doing so requires more than just good intentions; it requires broad social efforts to challenge stereotypes and get people to work together across group lines. But a vital first step is learning about the biological and psychological roots of prejudice.

Modern prejudice

Here’s the first thing to understand: Modern prejudice is not your grandparents’ prejudice.

Old-fashioned racism and sexism were known quantities because people would mostly say what they thought. Blacks were lazy; Jews were sly; women were either dumb or bitchy. Modern equivalents continue, of course—look at current portrayals of Mexican immigrants as criminals (when, in fact, crime rates in Latino neighborhoods are lower than those of other ethnic groups at comparable socioeconomic levels). Most estimates suggest such blatant and wrongheaded bigotry persists among only 10 percent of citizens in modern democracies. Blatant bias does spawn hate crimes, but these are fortunately rare (though not rare enough). At the very least, we can identify the barefaced bigots.

Our own prejudice—and our children’s and grandchildren’s prejudice, if we don’t address it—takes a more subtle, unexamined form. Neuroscience has shown that people can identify another person’s apparent race, gender, and age in a matter of milliseconds. In this blink of an eye, a complex network of stereotypes, emotional prejudices, and behavioral impulses activates. These knee-jerk reactions do not require conscious bigotry, though they are worsened by it.

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New study: biracial asian-americans are more likely to be sad

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

biracial star trek 1

Do you remember last last week’s Freakonomics study that claimed biracial black/white kids were liable to be twice as messed up as kids who were monoracially black or white?Apart from the racist generalisations of that study, some of our readers (including myself) were peeved at the insinuation that the only kind of biraciality that exists is the black/white kind. But good news everybody: there’s now a study for Asian/white biracials too!

Biracial Asian-Americans are twice as likely as monoracial Asian-Americans to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder, U.S. researchers said.

At first glance, this study seems to be treading the same problematic lines as the Freakonomics study. Like, call us crazy (haha!), but us biracial Asian Americans don’t like being told by a researchers that we’re twice as likely to be bananas as our monoracial Asian friends and relatives.

But take a closer look:

Among the biracial individuals in their national survey the researchers found 34 percent had been diagnosed with a psychological disorder — such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse — compared to 17 percent of monoracial individuals.

Considering that many biracial folk from a wee age have to put up with a lot of nonsense from families, both communities of colour AND white folk, and just society in general, it doesn’t surprise me if researchers find we experience higher levels of unhappiness.

If you ask me, there are two problems with the way this study has been described. One has to do with the way we talk about mental health, and the other has to do with confusing nature with nurture.

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Freakonomics: “The Plight of Mixed Race Children”

by Latoya Peterson

I love Sudhir Venkatesh but I am starting to fucking hate the Freakonomics blog. Especially when they decide to touch race.

Mixed race people, step right up to be essentialized into neat little patterns of behavior!

In a recent paper I [Steven D. Levitt] co-authored with Roland Fryer, Lisa Kahn, and Jorg Spenkuch, we look at data to try to answer that question. Here is what we find:

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

The really interesting result, though, is the next one.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

Holy bucket of stereotypes, Batman! Number three is really killing me though – how the fuck did they measure that? By panel survey? Researchers opinion on hotness? Comparison to a eurocentric beauty standard? (According to the study, the person doing the at home interviews was the sole judge of hotness.)

I was wondering what economic theories they used to get to this point, but surprise – there ain’t none!

We try to use economic theory to explain this set of facts. I can’t say we are entirely successful. If we had to pick an explanation that best fits the facts, it would be the old sociology model of mixed-race individuals as the “marginal man”: not part of either racial group and therefore torn by inner conflict.

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