27th February 2011
A precise measure of racism in Australia
I'm pleased that my earlier estimates on this subject have been broadly vindicated by this pathbreaking study conducted by the University of Western Sydney.
In DOF I estimated racism in the West to be around 7%. Thus, I wrote on this blog post that: "My estimate in DOF, based on analysis of various studies, is that roughly 7% of the Western population is currently racist – in terms of actually acting on their racist beliefs."
That correlates closely also with the findings of the survey that 6.5% of the respondents DISAGREED with the statement: "It is a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures".
In my view this strong negative opinion (disagreement) is perhaps the best measure of the extent of the strong form of racism – namely, people who are likely to DO SOMETHING to discriminate on the basis of 'race'. A few of these (very few!) will actually use VIOLENCE. [Note: the study is far more refined and nuanced – so this summary figure that I've extracted must be taken with a pinch of salt. Do read the entire findings.]
My personal estimates of soft racism
On the other hand, I have separately estimated that there is a HUGE amount of latent racism in the West, of around 50%. These people might not consistently or even consciously discriminate, but are far more likely than non-racists, to do so. This latent or subliminal racism (my estimated figure for which includes the more overt form of racism as well) is what I call soft racism (see my analysis here).
The closest that the UWS study gets to this issue is when it asks: "How often do you mix with members of other cultural groups in social life?" and only 49% do so either 'often' or 'very often'. In other words, 50% of Australians do not mix socially with people from other cultures ("races"). That social bias, in my experience, filters into the workplace in a subtle manner, and CVs of those from India, China, or Asia more broadly, have an automatically lower chance of success despite HIGHER qualifications, including from the world's best academic institutions.
What about India?
I believe that about 80% of Indians are soft racists, a figure far larger than the West. That is because inter-caste mixing is even lower, particularly in villages where the bulk of India lives. Indians therefore discriminate heavily on the basis of caste and skin colour. Hence India is the last major bastion of racism in the World.
Australia is one of the world's LEAST RACIST societies
Gabriella Coslovich had a nice article in yesterday's Age which brought out some of the positives, A few key extracts:
1) Hardcore racists are a minority: ''Racists'', it emerged, were the real minorities in this country: ''about one in 10 Australians have very problematic views on diversity and on ethnic differences. They believe that some races are naturally inferior or superior, and they believe in the need to keep groups separated. These separatists and supremacists are a destructive minority.''
2) Only Canada is LESS racist than Australia: "and comparative studies confirmed that Australia did indeed fare well. In parts of western Europe, three in 10 people were racists, and the figure was higher in parts of eastern Europe. The only place Dunn had found that was less racist than Australia (and then only a little less so), was Canada." My sense is that USA is also perhaps less racist than Australia (although if you consider the widespread discrimination against Blacks, it probably is not necessarily true).
The fact that Australia is now less racist than it was before is evident by looking at the migration trends:
(See also the entire article on this subject)
How does it feel living in a racist society?
In India I was part of the top of the pyramid. But I do know that India has a horrible problem of racism/casteism/tribalism. Everyone is assessed on the basis of their group/social/caste characteristics and skin colour. So while I was fine, I know that many people in India are NOT fine.
In Australia one doesn't come across racism on a daily basis. However, it is CERTAIN that it significantly affects career prospects in Australia, although that is less problematic than it was before. Even over the past 10 years there has been significant change: I've seen young Australians of Chinese and Indian background getting recruited on merit. That is a positive sign.
Before I close, my general comment on racism
And that comment is: If you think that “race” is a real concept, then you are an ass!