At 21, Lilliane Namukasa left Uganda to make a new life in Canada as a live-in caregiver for two small children.
But after working full-time for two years, she was paid just $2,100 by her Brampton employer and then fired without cause, forcing her into a homeless shelter, Namukasa says in a claim filed in Ontario Superior Court.
This is despite an employment contract that entitled Namukasa to receive approximately$22,000 a year, before taxes, minus $2,860 for room and board, she says in the claim.
A second caregiver, Vivian de Jesus, who will also tell her story Monday, says she cared for an elderly woman and her two adult children with developmental disabilities for 10 years, ending in April 2010. For the last two years, she lived with the family, working 132 hours a week — almost three times the statutory 48-hour work week. She did not receive overtime pay.
Second-generation Canadians are both optimistic and critical of the entire concept of multiculturalism in Canada, he said. They believe integrating and learning from each other could be a hugely positive experience that too often turns into immigrant communities living in “silos” side by side -and they blame their immigrant parents, not the rest of society, for that.
"One of the myths that’s very much alive in Canada is that the United States is worse on every score," he said. "The idea that we live in a mosaic and they live in a melting pot -in spite of the fact that it’s not true as far as the evidence shows -that’s certainly believed by a lot of people."
What the Hello Kitty: Would you say this is shadism at play? I admit that until recently I was trained (propagandized) to think look at skin tone too, (no) thanks to my female relatives on my Chinese side.
I love your term, shadism. It’s the Asian form of claiming one’s place in socio-economic hierarchies - the more fair you are, the more desirable because you are likely not slogging away in the fields. So light Asian skin is equated with wealth or social standing. Cosmetic counters in Asia seem to only focus on skin care products that contain whitening chemicals. The “bleaching” is now extended to the digital form, see Elle cover.
You are probably surprised to read that learning could close doors because the fact that education and learning are always good is such a basic article of our modern faith. However, as Morarji demonstrates with references to primary and secondary education in villages in the Aglar River Valley in Uttarakhand in northern India, where mass formal education only dates from the 1990s, education is a double-edged sword: formal education makes everyone dream of achieving a service sector job. Few actually achieve that dream because competition for service sector jobs is fierce and rural children even with a formal education cannot really compete with their urban peers who enjoy much better opportunities in the competition for waged office work.
It seems to me that this conundrum is also worth exploring with relation to the global spread of English: we’ve all been conditioned to believe that English proficiency holds many promises, creates opportunities and opens doors – and that is undoubtedly true in some cases. However, we’ve also been conditioned to not even entertain the possibility that learning English might also close doors and make learners who don’t achieve the dream unfit for local lives. Neither here nor there, the door English may have opened may only be towards a marginal position:
Experiences of alienation and disappointment around education illustrate how the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion of a market economy have meant that “becoming a part of the world has frequently entailed becoming marginal to the world” […] (Morarji 2010, p. 58)
A Taiwanese professor ordering coffee at a Beijing cafe was asked if he wanted a “coffee companion” - China’s way of saying cream.
The stunned academic thought they wanted him to hire a hostess to keep him company. He told the waitress: “I didn’t bring enough money.”
Taiwan and China may share the same linguistic heritage - like Britain and the United States - but more than six decades of separation and political tensions have led to the Chinese language evolving in very different ways on each side; sometimes causing confusion, frustration or embarrassment.
This phenomenon does not occur because women are better managers. Improved corporate performance occurs as a result of diversity alone. As Harvard Business School professors Lakshmi Ramarajan and David Thomas explained in their 2010 working paper A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations, the notion that minority board members bring unique information to the table that leads to improved performance, though beneficial, does not account for better results.
Rather, “mere membership in a diverse group is sufficient to motivate enhanced information sharing and processing and thereby improve group performance.”
Inclusion means more than pandering for votes. It means more than treating voters and entire communities as single units lacking free will and independent thought. Inclusion means recognizing that diversity is a strength in this country.
It means doing the hard work of ensuring, over the long term, that all communities are included, so that they interact with and influence processes and policies that impact us all. We have many shared interests and values, regardless of a particular ethnic background. So, speak to us and include us in the political process. But let’s not waste this opportunity for inclusion by stereotyping ethnic communities.
We are much more than simply where we originally came from. We are Canadian.
Pressure to hire francophone talent leaves team ‘severely and competitively disadvantaged,’ Boivin says.
"I’m going to apologize because I’m bilingual and have as many English friends as I do French? No, goddammit. Am I going to apologize that I’m going to work for an anglophone company? No. What the hell. We live in the world here, not a ghetto."
While Canadiens fans probably would cheer a Stanley Cup winner that spoke only Klingon, Boivin says a political reality exists in the front office. The team’s general manager and coach should be bilingual, he says, which means the Habs “are severely competitively disadvantaged.”
Your welcome and I was really moved on hearing another's input on the bamboo/glass ceiling and also the "sticky floor" which is a new term to me.
Also, have we met before?
I met Grace Lee Boggs at the 'Out of the Margins: Asian Movement Building Conference', which was located at University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. She touches so many people with her perspectives and ideas on building, rebuilding communities and connecting with others.
Also, please check out my other blog that speaks out to Asian Adoptees, Adoptive families and many other trans-racial adoptees.
my contact emails are:
The ‘model minority’ myth owes its inception in no small part to the gaming of the University of Chicago’s 1924 Survey of Race Relations, engineered by influential members of the Chinese and Japanese immigrant communities.
While Wesley Yang brought our attention to the Bamboo Ceiling, here’s an excerpt from Sylvie Kim’s response in Hyphen:
Yes, the Bamboo ceiling sucks for an engineer who will never make it to management level. But it probably sucks more for the Asian immigrant who has to dust that Bamboo ceiling after emptying out the wastebaskets and mopping the floors. While earning no more than $12,000 a year may be a badge of Model Minority defiance for some Asian Americans, it’s a stark economic reality for others.
If it wasn’t for the following true tale that just happened to a friend, I would have drowned out the chatter and let it go.
One of the main reasons I’ve been so frustrated about job hunting is because I got rejected even though I thought I did really well on the interview. On the other hand, a classmate who also went for an interview thought she had bombed it but ended up getting the position. The thing I can’t get over is that when I found out she was also going for the position, I already felt like I wasn’t going to have a good chance at the position, mostly because she was white. The irony is that she just recently came to America from Europe while I’ve lived in America ever since I could remember. I know it’s a bit too simplistic to say that and really I have nothing that shows race may have been involved in the decision making process. I just can’t help but get so angry and frustrated at a situation that does seem to have race involved.
Never mind the Bamboo Ceiling, he got stuck on the Sticky Floor.
The method pulls the students out of their textbooks — students have none in this class — and gets them talking.
"My job is to use these gestures to prompt them to speak," Slabodnik said.
The idea is to target the part of the brain that can assimilate and retain foreign language most easily. Students learn based on gestures rather than English so they can think and communicate without translating in their heads.
Wendy Maxwell, AIM’s creator, said she started developing the curriculum in the mid-1990s when she moved from a low-income language immersion program, where students spoke French all day, to a wealthy school, where students took French for an hour a day and worked with tutors.
She said the low-income students had a better grasp of the language. The other students were not making progress year over year.
Here’s one of my favourite “Where are you really from?” stories. The gal is of Korean ethnicity, third-generation “born in Russia” (that’s fourth-generation Russian). She came to North America as a teenager, speaks fluent Russian and American English but no Korean. She wrote about the “But where are you really from?” scene at a bus stop where she was questioned by a stranger because she was talking with a friend in Russian.
"Excuse me, what language are you speaking?" He would look at my (white) Russian friend.
"Russian" Nadya would reply.
"Russian," he’d repeat as if clarifying it for his own sake, "So … You speak Russian too?" he’d nod in my direction.
"I presume I do."
"Wow, so where are you from?" he’d linger
"No, no, but where are you really from?”
"… Russia" my tone never changing…
"But … You’re Asian."
More from Schema here and scroll down the page here.
I turn to them with a raised eyebrow. They look at me with those smug grins still plastered onto their faces. I’m not even Japanese. If they’re going to make fun of me, they should at least get the right ethnicity.
“Ich komme aus Amerika,” I sneer, and I walk into a different car.
I’m Asian and nobody wants me to forget it. If the wannabe-gangster walking past me down the street doesn’t mutter “ching chong” under his breath when he walks by me, if some drunk doesn’t shout “hey, Chiney” as I walk home at 3 AM, if my friends don’t tell me that I’m a bad driver for a reason, I might not remember what I am.
What is really amazing is that the supermarket is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneurs of Chinese ancestry, who have no linguistic or intrinsic cultural ties to the distinct communities they aim to serve.
“We can speak your language!”
It lists 10 (Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish, Russian, Bengali, English, Pashto, German, Arabic and Parsi) that staff can speak, though there are certainly more, like French.
Welcome to the global future of Toronto supermarkets.
How many immigrant families do not speak French by the second generation here? Most children and grandchildren of non-francophone or non-anglophone immigrants become trilingual: they learn French in school, English from the Internet and American television, and their ancestral language at home.
Today you don’t have to be Irish to participate in the St Patrick’s Day parade. Or Italian to enjoy eating pizza. Many non-Latin Quebecers dance the tango. Am I less a Quebecer if I wear a caftan, or baggy, low-slung hip-hop pants and play rap music?
Whatever our origins, we don’t recoil from speaking more than one language, or taking on practices from many cultures.
Grace: Thank you for sharing your stories and thoughts!
I was surprised to read your grandfather’s story. That reminded me of my grandparents’ generation. That was a hard, toilsome era, in which the birth rate was high but survival rate was low. While the medical knowledge and practice was not so advanced, that a baby could be borne healthy, survive, and grow up was not something easy. Therefore, they named their babies such as Mong-chi (Taiwanese, meaning “carelessly raised”) with a good intention that the baby won’t draw any jealousy and misfortune. Therefore, many of them had lowly names.
As for the distance created by alias name, I happened to read an old immigrant’s blog. He noticed that many young people studying abroad only knew the English names of others even though they had been friends for many years. It felt like they did not expect to build up a relationship that would last after their return to the mother country. Being upset about the phenomenon, he noticed how much a name meant to him; thus, he purposely changed back to his birth name from his alias English name, which had been used for decades.
…speaking Spanish is not a crime, but it is slowly becoming stigmatized as one…characterize minority language speakers as divisive and un-American. The message is clear: real Americans speak English. The question is: will you deliver it?
…at some point they start to exchange their Chinese names. This action implies that “now I know you in person,” no matter which name they would prefer calling each other afterwards. Asking and giving our birth given names symbolises a further level of the personal relationship. It is as if one’s real identity has been revealed and is suggestive of the potential for longer and deeper relationships. On the other hand, if a person purposefully refuses to mention their birth given name, the subtle underlying implication is “I am not revealing myself to you” or “I do not want you to know me.” By implication, the English name becomes a mask behind which we can hide.
I included the above quote from Grace Chu-Lin Chang’s article to give context to my story. In my grandfather’s generation, it was standard practice to be given a new name once a child starts school. This new name will be used in all dealings with the outside world, beyond the family walls. Hence the birth name is rarely used from school age onwards, except by family elders, and even then they will prefer a nickname to convey a term of endearment. So the birth name is probably never heard of again.
The new name is to be used in school, work and all outside dealings until the very end. I only learnt of my grandfather’s birth name when I saw it inscribed on his tombstone – and if my memory wavers in any way, I will not be able to locate his resting place because the cemetery records only refers to his birth name. Yet every document during his lifetime bore his common name. So his birth name is used at the beginning and the end, everything in between is the alias.
Having a birth name as well as a common name was the tradition during my grandfather’s time. It seemed to protect his personal identify or create some space for his public one, separating his private and public selves.
Today, I see the same parallels in adopting English aliases as described in Grace’s article. The alias is the mask behind which one can hide, revealing the birth name only to a select few when deeper relationships are formed. In contrast to English given names that are often “by the book”, Chinese names are very individualistic and unique hence highly personal. They are all custom made by stringing words together, so it is rare indeed to meet another person with the same name.
Another parallel for aliases is of course the online identity. Other than professional accounts, many user profiles prefer the anonymity of a creative nickname, again a screen to hide behind.
As someone who brandishes the birth name at introductions, I sometimes scare off people on both sides: Anglophones and Chinese speakers alike. They have both asked me the same question yet for very different reasons. “Do you have an English (Christian) name?”
Anglos want to know if I have a familiar-sounding name that is easier for them – the answer is no, like you my name is integral to my identity so you’ll just have to deal with it. Chinese speakers want to know because they need that alias barrier; otherwise I am way too familiar too soon. I recall Chinese speakers who could never address me by my real name, even when we became good friends or close colleagues. They skirted around the dilemma by saying my name in an anglicised way, thus my name and I can get no closer. The years have past, boundaries remain.
How odd, the same desire for an alias yet they originate from two opposing premises – one is to spawn familiarity, the other, to create distance.
One can only imagine that he [Duceppe], like many others, was stunned by the result in the Québec riding of Berthier–Maskinongé, where the NDP ran a young woman, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who lives 400km from the riding, went to Las Vegas for a vacation at the peak of the campaign, and for practical purposes does not speak French. She won, with a margin of 10 percentage points over the runner up, the incumbent Bloc candidate. We’re not in Kansas anymore…
Thanks Grace Chu-Lin Chang for inspiring me to write my story behind the name. Interesting you mentioned that English aliases have become a mask behind which we can hide. I have always rejected my English alias that was arbitrarily assigned to me on the day I came to this continent with my parents. Based on their limited acquaintance with English names at the time, they selected the name of a British royal. Huh? It was a name that I never identified with – just felt strange and sounded rather clumsy with my surname. And I didn’t understand why I had to relinquish my name or identity when I came to this country.
After elementary school and high school and in advance of post-secondary studies, I thought it would be an opportune time to revert to my birth name. Over the years, I observed it was typically newcomers from Asia, Southeast Asia in particular, who sought to adopt an English alias while immigrants from other parts of the world retained their heritage names, a trend that often extends to their children. Why is there an inferiority complex when it comes to Asian names? Why is there a double standard or one that is self-imposed by Asian newcomers?
In a 2009 field experiment based on six thousand résumés, conducted by University of British Columbia researchers led by Philip Oreopoulos, the study found those with non-English sounding names missed out on interview opportunities; something that linguistic/visible minorities in an Anglo environment already know too well. It is often assumed that a non-English sounding name equates to an audible minority - someone with a non-Canadian accent and a visible minority, a double whammy. According to the study, a hybrid name (English first name + foreign-sounding name) fared a little better in landing job interviews but it was still a far cry from applicants with full English names.
Well, switching back to my heritage name brought some interesting results indeed. Stay tuned.