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Reconsidering "Racialized": Canadians' Preferred Terminology Explored by William Watson

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Reconsidering Terminology: Canadians' Preference for Racial Labels Explored by William Watson

A recent column by Tristin Hopper sheds light on the discrepancy between official terminology and Canadians' preferred labels when it comes to race. Despite the government's adoption of terms like "racialized" and "BIPOC," a mere six percent of qualifying Canadians identify themselves as "racialized," while another six percent embrace the term "BIPOC." These findings, revealed by an Angus Reid poll, raise questions about the effectiveness and relevance of these government-approved labels.

The Meaning of "Racialized"

The term "racialized" itself raises grammatical questions, evoking thoughts of its case in Grade 7 grammar lessons. While it could be interpreted as a subjective action, such as "we have racialized ourselves," it seems more naturally understood as an objective case, where racialization is something done to individuals by others. This aligns with the modern understanding of race as a social construct, emphasizing how different groups relate to each other and their positions in social hierarchies.

The Concept of "Racialized Canadians"

In a sense, all Canadians can be considered "racialized" as the Canadian social system categorizes individuals based on racial lines. While there may be majority and minority groups, the concept of "racialized Canadians" suggests that everyone is now part of a group, regardless of their background. However, the poll numbers indicate that Canadians are not inclined to embrace this terminology, prompting a reconsideration of the government's approach.
Objective Ancestry vs. Social Constructs
While social relations are socially constructed, individuals' biological backgrounds, or "race" in terms of ancestry, remain objective. An individual's ancestry is determined by their unique set of ancestors, as reflected in their DNA. Unlike gender fluidity, where individuals can identify differently from their biological sex, attempts to switch racial groups often face significant backlash. Society's increasing focus on race and the boundaries it creates raises concerns about fairness and the objectification of individuals based on factors they cannot change. In light of these findings, it may be time for Ottawa to reconsider its terminology and align with the preferences of Canadians. The goal should be to foster inclusivity and fairness, avoiding the act of "racializing" individuals and instead embracing terminology that resonates with the population.

Impact of Racial Terminology on New Businesses

The recent revelation about Canadians' preference for racial labels, as discussed by William Watson, has significant implications for new businesses, particularly those aiming to foster inclusivity and diversity. The low percentage of Canadians identifying with terms like "racialized" and "BIPOC" suggests that these labels, despite being government-approved, may not resonate with the target audience.

Understanding the Market

New businesses must understand their market and the terminology that resonates with them. The adoption of terms that the majority of Canadians do not identify with could potentially create a disconnect between the business and its customers. This could impact the business's ability to effectively communicate its values, mission, and offerings to its target audience.
Aligning with Customer Preferences
The findings from the Angus Reid poll highlight the importance of aligning business practices with customer preferences. In this context, it implies the need for businesses to use racial terminology that their customers identify with. This alignment can foster a sense of inclusivity and fairness, enhancing the relationship between the business and its customers. In conclusion, the discrepancies between official racial terminology and Canadians' preferred labels underscore the need for new businesses to carefully consider the language they use. Aligning with customer preferences can help foster stronger connections and ensure the business's message resonates effectively with its target audience.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/opinion/william-watson-lets-ditch-racialized-and-go-back-to-terms-canadians-prefer
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