Save for recent immigrants, there are no African Americans. Percentages have nothing to do with it. You’re black in America just in case the rest of us think you are. You’re white in America just in case you can pass for white and you want to. But to maintain your whiteness you can’t bring your boyfriend home to meet your parents, and that can place an extra burden on passing. 

By contrast, there are no indigenous Canadians. You’re indigenous – or whatever word we have for you this week – just in case you’ve got the indigenous ‘tell’, which is odd because, not unlike pornography, the rest of us couldn’t tell you what that tell is, but we’re pretty sure we know it when we see it. And, of course, even if you can pass, you’re facing the same problem if you want to bring your boyfriend home to meet the family. 

There’s a movement afoot in Canada, among some but not all, to resist assimilation, in some measure because the rest of us, racists as we are, wouldn’t let you assimilate even if you wanted to. But also because individual identity requires group identity. So between our racism and your self-identification, we’re solving our race problem at glacial speed. I have no suggestions about how to accelerate it. But anyone who does – Frances Widdowson, for example – is met with torches and pitchforks, not from indigenous Canadians themselves, but from their virtue-signalling SJW-woke self-appointed ‘friends’. 

We’re all entitled to pick our battles. This one isn’t mine. But it’s rapidly being made mine by well-intentioned university administrators, understandably keen to demonstrate their wokeness, whose attempts at accommodation are unwittingly undermining the very purposes of the institution:

Any program of study that does not include a rigorous critique of itself does not belong at a university. And any student whose performance is not being evaluated by the same criteria as her peers is being fraudulently promoted. Both of these practices – orthodoxy and dual gate-keeping standards – can only backfire. They already have. 

Do I have any better suggestions? I do not. But neither was the boy himself a tailor when he cried out, “The Emperor has no clothes!” 

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Why My Colleagues Are Idiots

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1 reply

  1. Here’s my worry.

    Universities Canada Principles on Indigenous Education, June 29, 2015.”

    Universities Canada recognises that indigenous students are “underrepresented in Canadian higher education.” And so an laudable aim of Canadian universities is to “close the education gap” in order to improve the standard of living for indigenous people. Noted here is that indigenous people with a university degree earn 60% more than indigenous people who have only a high school diploma.

    The following excerpt appears further along in this short article,

    “Universities benefit from the presence of Indigenous students and their cultures, making our campuses more open places with wider sources of discovery and knowledge. Mutual respect for different ways of knowing and recognizing the intellectual contributions of Indigenous people is essential to building trust, understanding, and sharing. The cohabitation of Western science and Indigenous knowledge on campuses has the power of opening a dialogue among cultures and enhancing our shared knowledge.”

    Is by closing the education gap meant putting degrees in indigenous students’ hands or is by closing the education gap meant ensuring, behind those degrees, that indigenous students graduate with the competence required to compete with their non-indigenous peers? To evaluate arguments, to express themselves clearly, to navigate a world that challenges even those born with all the political and social advantages?

    I worry that by closing the education gap is meant in the sense of enclosing and reifying a SUBSTANTIVE education gap. The incessant handwaving at ways-of-knowing talk, dismissing its critique as a colonist agenda, does little to allay my worry.

    The current move is to claim that my notion of substantive education is that of the colonizer’s western ways of thinking (knowing) and objectives. The irony is that the notions of colonialism/decolonization, “ways of knowing” (whatever that means), and even making comparisons between Western science and “indigenous knowledges” ARE those of the colonist. (As are the notions of getting a degree and earning more than one’s peers.)

    Ensuring indigenous people have the education and critical skills to call bullshit on such bullshit, be it “colonial” or “indigenous” bullshit — including the freedom and ability to critique these terms — is a more promising path to indigenous empowerment.


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