Linguae Recta

Non-Conventional Critique in Favour of Objectivity

  • Induced selectivity in discrimination: biases and the non-black.

    By Linguae Recta
    Jul 19, '20 3:06 PM EST

    Part 1 - The Media

    We have all witnessed the murder of George Floyd, captured in video and broadcasted into our families' homes, amid the Covid-19 crisis. This was a crystal-clear case of police brutality against a lawful citizen, which I am wholeheartedly against. There was however, no evidence of a racial discrimination motive behind the act, therefore how did this really escalate from a typical case of police brutality to a world-wide pride parade for the black communities?

    It has been established that police brutality takes place against people of various backgrounds, essentially manifesting an expression of state power over citizens; not strictly of white people against minorities. There are instances of police brutality committed by non-white officers, as well as examples of non-minority victims.

    In fact, in European and Asian countries, the majority of police brutality victims are ethnically and racially local and yet suffer fatal or grave physical injuries. However, these cases are rarely broadcasted as extensively as the 25th May incident was.

    Let's examine some recent examples from all across the world:

    1. Alexandros Grigoropoulos was 15 years old when killed by the Greek police in Athens, in 2008.

    2. Berkin Elvan was also 15 when murdered by the Turkish police in Istanbul, in 2014.

    3. Tsang Chi-kin, an 18 year old student was recently shot by Hong Kong police, in 2019.

    In my opinion, it is police brutality per se that forms the stem of the issue. In the above cases, the manslaughter of a kid probably presents the most extreme case of police brutality, however, none of these incidents was as extensively covered by the global media, as it happened in the case of George Floyd - without wishing to downplay the gravity of the latter case.

    We progressively witness greater sensitivity being employed across all facets of civic life to ensure that black minorities are included and have their rights protected. However, is there any other ethnic, racial, sexual, or disability-related group that receives as much attention? Why do we have to be selectively sensitive in the benefit of black minorities, when inequality equally concerns all underprivileged groups?

    Why for example didn't we evidence a world-wide surge in pro-Asian sentiment upon the killing of Fong Lee in 2006? This was a blatant case of police brutality against a US citizen belonging to a racial minority, also captured on video. Who many of you have heard of him? 

    Was 19-year old Fong Lee's life of lesser importance to that of George Floyd? For the mainstream media, yes, it was.

    The white-cop/black-victim stereotyped dynamic reinforced the sentimental appeal of the story. The representational message of the image depicting the kneeling of a white enforcer on a black person's neck was too powerful, igniting underlying primal instincts in spectators with the relevant biases. The failures of the Trump administration, coupled with the Covid-19 crisis repression set the stage for the outburst. The story was a best-seller.

    The media benefit in this case. But how about the underprivileged groups encountering discrimination or police brutality?

    Part 2 - The Lobbies

    I will now present you with a personal experience which has frustrated me excessively:

    At the company where my partner works, a black female project manager bullied and discriminated against a low-ranking, mentally-disabled, white man of a foreign ethnic background. This is probably one of the most absurd and contradictory examples of workplace bullying I have ever come across and it eventually resulted in nasty lawsuits against the company. Legal expenses incurred, PR specialists employed, staff training workshops organised to protect the corporate culture and reputation, in addition to several other problems.

    During the HR investigation, the perpetrator played the race card. She suggested that she had been the target of investigation, because she was a black female working in a white, male-dominated workplace. Why? Because, it was easy. The waters were muddied and eventually disciplinary action was withheld for the avoidance of legal retribution from her side, as well as further negative publicity and pressure from relevant bodies. In this case, the black female architect was better represented than the mentally-disabled, foreign, white man.

    Who was the big loser in this case? The company, who lost a dedicated employee and furthermore suffered damages.

    It can generally be observed that the stereotypes for assessing discriminatory behaviour, have traditionally been in favour of black minorities, because these are better represented. These minorities have capitalised on the attention of legal and public opinion in the past years and now use it to their benefit, for vertical advancement within professional and social settings. The example I listed above is a particularly extreme and oxymoronic manifestation of this tactic, where the perpetrator managed to evade a severe discrimination charge by  claiming discrimination themselves. In this case, the perpetrator's racial background and sex benefited her claim, while the victim's didn't.

    In light of George Floyd’s killing, we have evidenced a transglobal initiative to 'make-it-right' for the black minorities, to the point that architecture schools and recruitment agencies have now created BLM networking groups for promoting the employability of black graduates and architects. These groups technically attempt to give them an advantage over other workers within a very competitive industry, solely on the basis of their racial identity.

    Have we ever come across networking groups for 2nd-generation Indian/Pakistani architecture graduates or migrant Polish architects in the UK? (The Indian/Pakistani and Polish migrant bodies being the largest minorities in the country, comprising two distinct ethnic and racial groups, but yet underrepresented in the architectural sector!)

    Why do we feel obliged to subdue to the attention-seeking demands of a particular minority, just because they have a stronger lobbying presence amongst others? Well, because this fruit is now ripe enough to allow some of us to profiteer as well.

    Lobbies capitalising on such stories are not strictly pro-black. The appeal of a story about diversity is also manipulated by various corporate bodies in a quest for targeted business growth through marketing campaigns. We have all seen their promotional posts on the Linkedin platform, which is full of all the stereotypical stories. Why is a professional networking site like Linkedin is inundated with motivational messages, stories about diversity champions, pro-charity fundraising, volunteering initiatives etc. Does anyone really believe that a business has any interest in following such trends other than for publicity and profit?

    The point I wish to arrive at is that promoting diversity agendas seems to be the latest cutting-edge strategy in corporate marketing.

    Eventually, we might even witness the establishment and operation of commercial pro-diversity agencies which will flourish on creating trends / shifting media-attention for the benefit of their clients (whoever these are), thus establishing a new market. 

    After the environmental movement, diversity now seems to be the 'next big thing' in entrepreneurial profiteering.

    R.I.P. George Floyd. I wish that the value of your human life had not been as greedily exploited.

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About this Blog

I am starting this blog to present critical views on contemporary topics, which are often dealt with in a superficial manner by mainstream media. The relevance of this blog to architects is drawn through my experience in the architecture industry & community since my early years in education. Topics include critique on architectural education, journalism, trends and professional challenges. Any opinions expressed do not reflect those of my employer.

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