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Brian Jones: The dark race to institutionalized racism

Dalhousie University in Halifax has a job opening for a vice-president. Great pay, good benefits, nice city — oh, but don’t bother applying if you don’t have dark skin.

Brian Jones
Brian Jones

According to a Canadian Press story this week, applications for the Dal job will be “restricted to ‘racially visible’ and Indigenous candidates.”

CP didn’t reprint the help-wanted ad, but it must have been interesting: “PhD required. Related experience preferred. Must have dark skin.”

Of course, the university wouldn’t dare use the phrase “dark skin.” In this era of stupid euphemisms, “racially visible” is polite and preferable.

Blunt and straightforward language, even when factual and accurate, is avoided so as not to offend people who take offence without even knowing why they are offended.

This preference for jargon is also responsible for the widespread usage of the repugnant “people of colour” and the even more repulsive “racialized.”

But back to Dal’s desire for a dark-skinned administrator. The CP reporter rightly asked a spokesperson if the university was concerned about suggestions its recruitment effort constitutes “reverse racism.”

It is a fair tactic, the spokeswoman responded, because the university administration doesn’t have enough dark people.

She didn’t say “dark people,” of course, but that was exactly her meaning.

Obviously, it isn’t “reverse racism.” It is racism. It is setting criteria based on race, and excluding some people because of their race.

Arguments about “affirmative action” — boy, do we ever love euphemisms — began about 40 years ago. The debate has ended. It is now common and acceptable for government job postings to declare that preference will be given to people with dark skin.

As a dark-skinned person — due to being genetically half-Latino — this makes me more angry than I have space to describe in this short column.

Suffice to say that favouring “racialized” people and “visible minorities” is sly politics and contemptible manipulation, and it is unnecessary and unjust. Not enough dark people employed at Dal? Put out a sign: “Help wanted. We don’t discriminate.”

Guilty of distortion

Daintiness and sensitivity skew discussions about race. Disagree with someone about almost anything? Haul out the R word. Don’t like somebody’s views on immigration? Racist! Appalled by their take on terrorism? Racist!

A considerable collection of Canadians on social media — including the prime minister and the federal justice minister — apparently think 12 jurors in Saskatchewan are racist because they found a white farmer not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a young Indigenous man.

Some take it further, saying the case is proof the justice system is inherently racist, or that Canada is a racist country.

People who say a racist injustice was done in the case because there weren’t any Indigenous jurors should ponder the implications of their logic.

The trial and acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colten Boushie on Stanley’s farm was widely publicized. The facts, evidence and arguments were extensively reported.

The jury’s verdict elicited immediate accusations of racism. And yet — given all that was reported — you can’t reasonably say the jury got it wrong.

So, the debate quickly centred on race and an all-white jury siding with a white defendant. Presumably, DNA testing had not been done on the jurors, so early reports of “an all-white jury” soon morphed into “a non-Indigenous-looking jury.”

People who say a racist injustice was done in the case because there weren’t any Indigenous jurors should ponder the implications of their logic. Its result is this: an Indigenous juror, being dark-skinned like the victim, would have perceived the facts differently and endorsed a guilty verdict. His or her interpretation of the evidence would have been swayed not by facts or proof, but by skin colour.

But this is exactly the accusation critics level at the 12 jurors — that all were swayed by race rather than by facts. It stretches credulity to believe that not one, not two, but all 12 jurors are overtly or subconsciously racist.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

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