Friday, July 15, 2011

This Blog Speaks To A Certain Kind Of Linguistic Racism

An anti-discrimination poster in Admiralty MTR...                       Image via Wikipedia
Roland Sintos Coloma is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies. I didn't know U of T even had such a centre, but I'm glad it's integrative, because I wouldn't be caught dead in one that wasn't.

One can only imagine what Integrative is supposed to mean. Holistic? Cross-disciplinary? "Sustainable"'s even better. Career-enhancing hint: when in doubt, add "sustainable" what you're saying and you're "in". Trust me -- your company doesn't need a plan; it needs a sustainable plan.

At any rate, Roland Sintos Coloma finds the concept of seeking to reducing foreign accents among Canadians disturbing.
“This speaks to a certain kind of linguistic racism,” Prof. Coloma said, adding that the idea of “making North American customers comfortable is silly...".      
I don't think it's as much making "North American customers comfortable" (which to my ears comes across as a racist put-down) as it is making yourself easily understood. I think it's nice to have someone on de udder end of da VoiP line datcha canachully understand. (And, call me a linguophobe, but I think the fact that Air Canada uses an American with a flat Chicago accent to do the pre-recorded boarding announcements is, well, un-Canadian. My linguistic sensitivities have been offended and I should probably sue Air Canada for half a mil and a case of 7-Up....)

And I know Roland Sintos Coloma is a professor, but does "this speaks to a certain kind of linguistic racism" make grammatical sense? I mean, what does "this speaks to" even mean? Could we not expect something more articulate from the rigorously trained mind of a U of T professor?

Or am I racist to suggest this?

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

PS. I looked up the Institute. It's part of OISE. Ah.... "Research and teaching in the areas of equity, anti-racism praxis and alternative knowledges in education." Knowledges? More bizarrely, they've just finished their "5th Annual Spirituality Conference. Theme: Land, Citizenship, Belonging, and the Place of the Spirit".

I doubt if it was Christian, and I know it's racist of me to even think this and doing so means I'm a bad person. But, if it ain't Christian, can it be said to be properly diverse and inclusive? And, if it ain't diverse and  inclusive, here's the question, can it really be sustainable?

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1 comment:

Alain said...

"Linguistic racism" coming from a so-called professor and supposedly educated man tells me he is neither. It is in the same category as claiming that Muslims are a race and anyone opposed to radical Islam is racist.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"