Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mike Butler: White, racist, guilty

A study into attitudes towards ethnicity among year-nine pupils at five Auckland multi-ethnic schools shows the results of 30 years of race-based affirmative action. While international research has shown dominant cultures feel positive about their identity, which linked to how well they did at school, here, it was the opposite.

The Auckland University study published in the New Zealand Journal of Psychology involved 695 pupils at schools with decile rankings ranging from three to nine who were asked anonymously to describe what they liked or disliked about being Maori, New Zealand European, Chinese or Samoan.

Here are the results:
Pros: Part of majority group, feel normal and blend in, not stereotyped and targeted for racism, like being a New Zealander.
Cons: Unfair reputation of being racist, teased for being white, guilty about past, frustration with being boring. 
Pros: Feel proud about being tangata whenua, have own language, oral traditions and kapa haka.
Cons: Mocked and negatively stereotyped, people think you are dumb and will drop out of school, media shows Maori as violent or criminal. 
Pros: Culture is celebrated at events like Pasifika festival, there is a strong emphasis on family and values, have own language.
Cons: Expectations to act like "gangsters," or be dumb and "fresh off the boat." Strict culture and always have to hang out with family. 
Pros: Have very different culture, delicious food, a rich heritage, and focus on education and achievement.
Cons: Stereotyped as "brainy" and one-dimensional, being "dissed" about driving and eating cats and dogs. Strict parents. (1)
Researcher Dr Melinda Webber said the study highlighted the importance of parents speaking to kids about their racial identity, and teachers confronting the topic.

However, whatever parents and teachers say would be swamped by the requirements and conduct of government departments.

White-guilt social studies is taught at school, race-based funding and course placings are available in tertiary education, there are cultural safety requirements in government departments, race-based preferential treatment exists in welfare and housing, and Maori protocol has become the de facto state religious ritual.

An interesting point is that Chinese people are reputedly the highest achievers in New Zealand while receiving the least help and face the most prejudice, but Hong Kong tops an intolerance list, with 71.8 percent of the population saying they would refuse to live next to someone of a different race. (2)

NOTE: The study used the term "pakeha" instead of "New Zealand European".

1. Teen study finds discrimination is widespread, The Dominion Post, September 19, 2013.
2. Survey exposes 'most racist' countries,


Lindsay Mitchell said...
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My reaction, when reading that Pakeha teenagers feel guilty about the "terrible" things their ancestors had done to Maori, was to wonder if Maori teenagers feel guilty about the terrible things their ancestors did to THEIR ancestors.

Steve Schapel said...
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"Researcher Dr Melinda Webber said the study highlighted the importance of parents speaking to kids about their racial identity, and teachers confronting the topic."

Um, no, in my opinion the study highlights the importance of parents and teachers de-emphasising race.

Anonymous said...
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In what ways would "de-emphasising race" be useful when NZ is becoming more multi-ethnic? One's race or ethnicity does not disappear when students enter the school gates.

Anonymous said...
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As I always say, interesting how those who were the most opposed to South African apartheid are the most enthusiastic advocates for [part-] Maori special privilege here.

Turns out they are not opposed to racism at all, they just want to place it under new management.

Barry said...
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I think that that paragraph which starts "White-guilt social studies..." describes NZ very well!

Anonymous said...
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It has been the norm for all peoples to naturally gravitate towards their own. New York or London are classic examples of this over the last couple of hundred years. People have a disinclination to involve themselves with other cultures. When Europeans came to NZ, they brought with them a culture of music, art, architecture and a flawed but workable system of law and ethics. What they found here was a relentlessly savage race of stone age tribes going nowhere fast.The early inhabitants of New Zealand can count themselves fortunate that the Europeans had sexual virility enough to overcome their natural disregard for peoples of another race. Without that, it is questionable whether Maoris would have survived the discovery of New Zealand by an advanced civilization. It is unfortunate that now we have products of these early couplings choosing to identify with the primitive part of their ancestry instead of rejoicing in the fact that without these sexual dalliances they would not now exist.
Governments and their innumerable departments can afford the indulgence of pandering to these opportunists, the tax payers cannot.
When I am lying on an operating table and the surgeon leans over me and grins brightly through his dark skin, I do not care what race he comes from, my only concern is his knowledge and ability.
When I listen to a cello played with superb dexterity, I care not what race the player is. So then, why is it that I feel nothing but contempt for the weekend maoris with Anglo Saxon names spouting forth in a language that is realistically as alien to them as it is to me? Could it be that God forbid, they have nothing to offer?
Schools push all manner of differing groups together. Kids have a great way of dealing with practicalities simply. We have seen that this still does not equate with each ethnic group embracing all of the others.
Bleeding heart liberals and those who kid themselves that they are open minded and embrace all need to take a cold shower. When it comes to protecting you and your own, the gloves are always off.

Mike said...
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I agree with Barry. That describes in a few words exactly what's wrong with this country. The Maoris are demanding a status in this country that they haven't earned.

Anonymous said...
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In free society, people [in this case part-Maoris who have elected to elevate one set of ancestors at the expense of another] are at liberty to [within the law] self-delude at will.

Just don't ask me to pay for it ...

Anonymous said...
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I recently filled in an online job application for the Ministry of Business innovation and Employment. Part of the process involved identifying my ethnicity from a dropdown menu. I was stunned to find that there was was no option of 'New Zealander' or New Zealand European' available to me - only 'New Zealand Pakeha'. I selected Other'.

If ethnicity is about one's own perception of one's cultural (as opposed to racial) identity, and not a description of how another ethnic group chooses to categorise people who look like me, then it is proper that I be given a choice of 'New Zealand European'. I do in fact derive my cultural identity from Europe - from the Renaissance, the Reformation and the scientific and industrial revolutions that they engendered. I acknowledge that some of it also derives from the period of New Zealand's nationhood - but that is what the 'New Zealand' part of such a description of ethnicity conveys. To require me to confine my identity not just to that small part of my culture that I derive from the short recent period of Maori-European engagement, but to also describe that small part using the words of a culture which is not my own is both offensive and denies me my own expression of my ethnicity. I suppose it would be the equivalent of asking Maori to identify their ethnicity by offering a choice of only 'New Zealand Native' or 'New Zealand aborigine.

If New Zealand is really founded on a partnership of two peoples, then the State should allow me to be equally entitled to define my ethnicity in my own terms as someone of Maori ethnicity. To deny me that right suggests that nothing has been learned from the exertion of one group's imposition of its views and perceptions over another's in the past 200 years.

Stevo Carson said...
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If I were to apply for a job with a Govt department I would tick the European Maori box, assuming there is that choice or something close to it, thankfully I have no Maori blood nor do I need a job, but by adding the Maori bit your chance of success has risen dramatically. It's called "Racial selection" Pick a tribe, any tribe and you're in, with more chance of promotion and if anyone dares to question you, you can always squeal RACISM and everything will be fine. Mr Minto must be soooo proud of himself for sorting out those nasty South Africans, with their "must have a certain percentage of black people in their sporting teams," picked on race, not talent. But it appears that is OK, coz they are black!

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