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That sector, not surprisingly, seemed to include ways of work that involved many fewer illusions about the potential benevolence of the state even when the project itself was state-funded. The consciousness of document production as carefully calculated political intervention was quite matter of course. It was also in the context of that project that I first encountered Galabuzi's work, through an earlier report he had done on the same theme as this book in cooperation with the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto.

All of this history leads me to read Canadian Economic Apartheid not as the dry academic publication for which it could easily be mistaken, but as a cannily crafted political act. I can only speculate of course but I think Galabuzi has made deliberate choices about why he is writing and how his text might have an impact once released into the world, choices based on an understanding of both the benefits and constraints flowing from the ways he has answered "Why?

Canada's economic apartheid : the social exclusion of racialized groups in the new century /

On the one hand, this is completely true. Any bureaucratic relations that wish to avoid open authoritarianism become adept at churning out documents that give the appearance of acting on some problem of public interest while in fact doing the opposite. The Canadian tradition of the Royal Commission often raises this to an art form, but the run-of-the-mill output of state and para-state institutions can do much the same. The binge of federally-funded research on homelessness beginning in the late '90s -- funded to manage the potential problem, understood as existing at the level of public relations by those who make such decisions, of the federal government being partially responsible for causing the upsurge in homelessness to begin with -- is a prime example of this and one which paid me a salary for awhile, I must admit.

At the same time, this cynicism about the role of documents can easily be taken too far. Carefully crafted written words can have a tremendous impact. Saying this is not buying into the liberal mythology of social evolution as a process of continually refining ideas and then imposing them on the material world, of some sort of cerebral comptetition among concepts as the ultimate shaper of reality.

Rather, it recognizes that the production and consumption of text are just as much a part of material reality as any other task, and leaning on the wise analyses of Dorothy Smith those acts are integral to translocally coordinating human activity. This coordination can happen because a text has some sort of official status and letting one's activities be guided by it is subject to some sort of enforcement, or it can be because the text captures the imaginations of people who are not otherwise obliged to activate it.

A well-timed, well-written fiery pamphlet can bring thousands into the streets, for example, at least in certain times and places. Choices Made Canadian Economic Apartheid is not such a pamphlet. Galabuzi could have written one, I'd imagine, but one of his deliberate choices in producing the book was to select a rather differentmechanism of action -- a different set of people targeted to take up the ideas in different sorts of ways and shape their actions accordingly.

In modern industrialized states, documents can also be targeted at an elite audience to try to create change. This approach can make things happen without the difficult conflict inherent to the fiery pamphlet route, but obviously the costs are high: To have a hope of actually encouraging change, a document must accept serious constraints. It must be written to make it at least minimally acceptable to the elites whose actions it wishes to shape, for example. It must accept certain conventions in terms of the information that it generates and presents, and the kinds of arguments it uses.

It must meet quite mainstream understandings of rationality and, probably, quite mainstream theories of knowledge. It probably shouldn't be too angry in tone. Whatever policy recommendations are made should come across as something that "might work", given the preconceptions of the target audience. Moreover, it should appeal to the target audience's self-interest in some way, even if only via providing them with a path they can travel to affirm their self-image as benevolent. It must understand the existing elite-acceptable discourse on the subject, and respond to it in some way.

It must understand who will read it, and why, and what their constraints are. I hope it is obvious why producing a text to launch into such an environment in a deliberate, manipulative, illusion-free way is preferable to doing so in a less critical way.

Canada's Economic Apartheid

Neither will bring the revolution, of course, and both are really quite icky, because you have to restrain yourself from talking too much about what is really going on. Both, in fact, depend a lot on things happening way beyond the realm of elites who write reports to one another to determine what actually happens. However, the former gives you a better shot of nudgings circumstances in directions that might, just might, ease suffering in your community in ways that are not revolutionarily sexy, but can make a difference in real people's real lives. It should be noted that such report writing has a long history on the social democratic left in Canada.


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One of the most important non-party institutions of the early social democratic left just before and just after it started to actually have some influence in this country was the League for Social Reconstruction , closely affiliated with the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. They produced a number of key policy recommendations ultimately taken up by the Mackenzie King and later Liberals. Some of their other material was politely ignored because it did not fit the ideological preconceptions of the audience with the power to implement them. And lots of other important stuff did not get considered by the LSR authors at all.

Still, it was a certain kind of intervention, and it did make a difference to some ordinary people. Canada's Economic Apartheid is a book that enters into the tradition of trying to influence state policy through analysis. The space created by anti-racism and other movement in Canada over the last few decades means that some of the blindnesses that marred early social democratic report writing are no longer mandatory, even if there are still limits on how they can be addressed.

As part of its effort to adhere to conventions that would allow it to be taken seriously by elites, it is very, very quantitative, and its framework is very traditionally structuralist sociology. It does give a nod or two to critical race theory, but not much more. All of this means that it is a slow and not always terribly exciting read -- statistics can be portraying the most horrific kind of misery and oppression, but even the most talented writer cannot prevent them from becoming a bit mind-numbing.


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  • This means, of course, that this book is an absolutely crucial resource for the basic "facts" that you might need in discussing racism in the economy, whether the forum for debate is Parliament, a street corner, or Easter dinner. The value of having and using this kind of resource should not be underesetimated. Another requirement of this sort of document is that it address policy debates as they currently exist. For this book, it means, for example, feeling obliged to meet messed up racist arguments that really do not deserve the time of day but that often catch the ears of policy makers.

    One of the key debates in which it intervenes is the contest to explain the fact that racialized people in Canada consistently and often increasingly make less money, have a higher unemployment rate, a lower employment rate, and have less wealth with these things usually experienced in gendered ways than white people, on average. There are a number of ways that different authors have tried to explain this over the years, while the research has been at different stages.

    One common explanation is the "immigration lag", i. This has been dismissed by more recent research though right-wing analysts still often try to use it that point out that while such a lag has always happened and still does, it has somehow ceased to be something that is overcome within a predictable, finite span.

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    This shift has happened as the pool of immigrants to Canada has become increasingly racialized. And, of course, racialized people who are not immigrants face a gap as well, so the immigration lag, however real, is not explanatory. When all of the various factors are taken into account, all the other possible explanations that analysts can grasp for, there is still a significant residual difference between racialized and non-racialized groups in Canada in these core economic readouts.

    It's a bit more complicated than this, but in essence the right tries to argue that the explanation for this residual is that these groups, for social and hisotrical reasons, tend to have less "human capital," are therefore "less productive", and therefore do less well in the supposedly perfect competition that is the labour market. Which boils down to a fancy way of claiming that people of colour and indigenous people just don't measure up to white people, with plenty of five dollar words thrown in so as to pretend that the argument isn't grossly racist.

    The anti-racist rebuttals tend to talk about racialized and gendered segmentation of the labour market, empirical evidence of discrimination by employers, and overwhelming qualitative evidence of racism as reported by those who experience it. There are plenty of statistical arguments, too, based in more fine-grained examination of census data and the like. A key one is that educational attainment is often a key proxy for "human capital", and racialized people in Canada have, on average, higher educational attainment than white Canadians yet still do significantly less well in the labour market.

    To use the neutral, academic language, the process of racialization means that people are marked in such a way as to ensure that the human capital that they have is consistently underestimated and devalued by the people and organizations that tend to control hiring, evaluation, promotion, and so on. This particular policy debate, and the choice of the book to participate in it, was one of the things that really made me conscious of the book as deliberate political calculation.

    I can't claim to know the author's mind and I, unlike him, do not experience racism so it is a dangerous area for me even to speculate, but I'd imagine it must be pretty galling to experience a lifetime of employers and co-workers devaluing your "human capital" and your very self in racist ways, yet to feel obliged to treat seriously and respectfully academic arguments that boil down to attempts to tell you that you and yours either aren't as good at stuff or don't work as hard as white folks.

    And, yes, I know there are less crude versions of the various tortured attempts to find a way to explain the gap without admitting the existence of racism, but even so A separate foray into the world of policy debates, and one that I quite enjoyed, was Galabuzi's take-down of "social inclusion" theory. It has become increasingly favoured over the last decade in a lot of official, funded spaces that cannot or do not want to continue ignoring the existence of oppression completely.

    Canada's Economic Apartheid

    It tends to be very liberal in its assumptions, to focus on things like "diversity" and "tolerance" and not surprisingly "inclusion", to erase the existence of privilege, and to pretend that you don't need to examine the mechanisms and history of exclusion. I knew I didn't like it when I first encountered it in the agency sector but I was not immediately able to articulate why, and I didn't run across any written critiques of it at the time, so it is nice to see Galabuzi's.

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    He counterposes it to "social exclusion" theory -- sounds like it is related, but it isn't really. Rather than social inclusion's "accentuate the positive" gloss that lets people avoid the tough issues while claiming they are dealing with them, social exclusion theory places a great deal of emphasis on mechanisms, roots, and details of exclusion. It brings up the "divisive" issues that social inclusion theory ignores. Eileen Antone a member of the Oneida of the Thames First Nation is a faculty member in the Transitional Year Programme of the University of Toronto where the primary focus of her work is with Aboriginal students achieving university studies.

    Antone is also a faculty member in the department of Adult Education, Community Development, and Counselling Psychology. Eileen has many years of experience with Aboriginal communities and organizations, both as a committee member and as a concerned individual advocating for Aboriginal perspectives. During her academic career the scholarly subject of her research, professional writing, teaching and field development has been Aboriginal knowledge and traditional ways of being. The traditions of Aboriginal people continue to be applicable today in the twenty—first century.

    She found through her research that Aboriginal literacy facilitates the development of self-determination, affirmation, achievement and sense of purpose. She is determined that Aboriginal Studies will continue to offer the same kind of development for the students who choose to learn about the Aboriginal People in Canada. His research interests include the experiences of recent immigrants and racialized groups in the Canadian labour market, the racialization of poverty, social exclusion and the impact of global economic restructuring on local communities.

    He is also an active member of the social justice community in Toronto and has been involved in a variety of social justice campaigns. He is a founder member of the African Music Festival in Toronto. Rona Abramovitch received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of Minnesota and then taught and did research in developmental psychology on the Mississauga campus of the University of Toronto for many years. Mandissa Arlain works as a library technician at the Ryerson University Library. Mandissa considers her appointment on the ARC Taskforce to be both a privilege and a responsibility and will be proud if the work of the taskforce results in a more inclusive space for even one member of the Ryerson community.

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    Cyesha is a fourth year Business Management student studying Human Resources. Her volunteer activities include being the youngest board member to serve on the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto Board where they promote the development of new co-ops. She is also the events coordinator for the Urban Hip Hop Union.

    Olivene Greene works in Ryerson Food Services. She enjoys serving the Ryerson community and usually finds herself engaged in conversations with those who visit her stand in the cafeteria. Olivene is passionate about contributing to an inclusive workplace and continues to promote equity in the workplace. She has worked with the Chester Lee Anti-Racism Board, working on issues of housing for immigrants and income support.