Friday, October 21, 2005

And Furthermore...

One of the other things that really, really bothered me about that CBC piece last night was the obvious racism in the labor dispute that the reporter simply ignored.

Some background: Many of the striking workers are Sudanese, who were recruited by the company to come work in the town. One could not-unreasonably presume that Sudanese men were recuited because a) they'd be desperate to get the hell out of Sudan, and b) they would therefore be more willing to work under difficult conditions.

So the CBC reporter starts talking to people about town. One pair of good ol' boys tells our intrepid correspondent that "these people" (or alternately, "those people") don't understand the "redneck culture" of the town. The reporter inquires what "redneck" culture means, but doesn't even attempt to explore the racial implications of this phrase. Can black people be rednecks? Or is this club a bit more exclusive?

Later in the piece, he interviews a few young women, one of whom says (I'm quoting from memory, so this might not be exact) "you want to be like that, you shouldn't come here from Africa. We're not like that here." One of her friends seems to have realized how that sounded, prompting a hurt-sounding "What?", as if what she said could only be misinterpreted by fools.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone in that town is racist. But the reporter simply ignored two obvious - one might say glaring - opportunities to explore the racial element to this story. Instead, we got incredibly patronizing reportage about how Albertans just don't want silly old unions and all their pesky concerns about "health" and "safety."

No comments: