Monday, February 01, 2010

Race vs Racism

Race vs Racism

By Dr Mere Tuisalalo Samisoni - 01 February 2010

My response to the treatment of Dr. Padma Lal, by the illegal interim regime (IIR) was to defend choice as an individual right - a philosophy, based on freedom, responsibility and diversity. 

ANONYMOUS, your philosophy, context and perspective are rather obscure. We have“crossed swords on the same issue on a couple of occasions, but it is obvious you do not accept my rights to my own beliefs and values. This is not the first time you have brought up this subject of racism or accused me of it. It is popular accusations among IIR supporters, even though they clearly do not fully understand what it actually means, and are often guilty of the same thing themselves. 

In fact, they are confused, and the confusion is between the words RACE and RACISM. The meanings are quite different. But most IIR supporters, including you ANONYMOUS, as well as Dr. Richard Herr, Dr Satendra Nandan and Filipe Bole, from the University of Fiji, to name a few.

RACE (or ethnicity), is a fact of life and is an objective reality. It can be counted and accounted. Race is a demographic differentiator for national statistics and research design. In that sense it is a measure for strategic, national government interventionist type policies. These are then useful for formulating strategic national development plans or Affirmative Action polices.

Where pursued, these policies have succeeded, indicating that the intentions, effects and distinctions are true. Affirmative Action Policies have often been very successful where properly conceived and implemented. For example as in America, where AA policies were used in promoting women in the area of small business to replace welfare payments. In 2008, Centre for Women Business Research (CWBR) announced 10.1million Women Owned Firms (WOF) that are 50% or more owned by women, employ 13million people and generate 2 trillion in annual revenue. These firms represent 40% of all firms or corporations in the US. 

In April 2009, new data collected by CWBR showed that Women of Color (WOC) owned 2.3 million businesses, which employ 1.7 million people and generate $239billion in annual revenue. But these firms are not achieving the same level of success when measured by revenue and employment. WOC businesses have great un-tapped potential for economic and social impact that will only be realized by clearly recognizing the specific challenges faced by WOC, so as to develop targeted programs and policies to remove those barriers. 

Differentiating markets by counting race, women owned business (WOB) clearly show the importance of strategic targeting to help create jobs and drive economic growth. Their successes demonstrate that race is a fact of life whose importance must not be discounted. In short, you cannot recognize all opportunities or support all initiatives without recognizing race.

In the 21st century where the market economy is driven by the Information Communication Technology (ICT) platform, accounting by race is statistically significant for capturing the opportunities and benefits offered by globalization – especially in terms of niche-marketing, cultural tourism and services. Entrepreneurs can localize these opportunities, holistically linking them to local systems for added value (Samisoni 2008) that is authentically country-specific, and which can help contribute to sustainable green development.

In the Fiji context, there are three main races, the Indigenous Fijians, which make up 57%, the two migrant races Indians (38%) and Others (5%). The latter, is made up of minority groups, Europeans, Part Europeans and other Pacific Islanders. Therefore our market reality in Fiji involves a multicultural customer base with distinct cultural and ethnic preferences.

These have enormous value when empowerment is energized through ownership of capital in the form of asset, skills, knowledge, networks, information, moral/spiritual, cultural, political, legal status, technical and buying power. But when ignored or glossed over by the demands of politically-correct, head-in-the-sand posturing like the John Samy’s Military Charter, they have the potential to bring the kind of ticking time-bomb problems that can erupt into race riots even in progressive societies, as seen in recent years in Cronulla (Australia), Paris (France) and Cincinnati and Los Angeles (USA).

To avoid this, race must be accounted in strategic national development plans. This was the case in the SDL Manifesto and accepted by the Multi-Party Cabinet (MPC) in the Strategic Development Plans (SDP 2002 - 2011). These were distinguished by race. They DID NOT EXCLUDE OTHER RACES. I will repeat that. THEY DID NOT EXCLUDE OTHER RACES, who also needed, and were afforded, a hand up under the Social Justice Act and Fiji Constitution. 

The statistics for Indigenous Fijian (IF) development are well documented. For example, one relevant statistic that needed strategic planning responses according to the Ministry of Health plan (2004 p. 34-42) was infant mortality (IM) in the 1st year of life. For Fijians, this rose between 1993 -2003 from 58% to 69.8%. By contrast, Indian Infant Mortality in the 1st year of life reduced from 37.6 % to 26.6% during the same time period. In 1994, IM accounted for 42% of deaths in 2003 it had risen to 83.2% mainly due to IF IM. This kind of trend simply cannot be addressed through “one size fits all”. It would simply be nonsense! 

Similar patterns were also indentified in other health areas like incidence of HIV and Aids (1989 2004, 84%), Gonorrhea (1995- 2004, 91% & 84%) and Syphilis (1995 2004, 88%; 87%). 
And they repeat again in non-health areas like Prison population demographics, and Sugar revenue proceeds.

These statistics show that the IF race is in crises. The impact is negatively compounding exponentially. All you have to do to see it, is to acknowledge the importance of race (or ethnicity). That is not racism by any stretch of the imagination. But to ignore this specifically because race happens to be a factor – well that IS racism!!

Fiji had the professional leadership in the deposed government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s MPC. The elected government demonstrated authentic leadership qualities, with education qualifications and experiences for the 21st century market needs to process the above statistics, in order to prevent the -4.4% and -6.6% GDP of the last few years.

VB’s coup, and his ever-changing reasons for it, is an expensive exercise in futility. It was based on bad advice and greed for power, money and status, and the fear of facing the consequences of his own 2001 choices in a court of law. Under this shroud of subjectivity, stereotyping and profiling, RACE, an objective strategic market differentiator has been confused with subjective RACISM.

By definition, RACISM is a social phenomenon, where one race thinks it is superior to the other and manifested as discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, intolerance and bias. To any normal person this is unacceptable but it happens and human nature being what it is, racism cannot be swept under the mat.

By contrast, the IR’s “race-nowhere” phobia is threatening to ethnically “cleanse” indigenous Fijians by dint of social-engineering annihilation. That dictatorial power cannot induce any “imaginative spark” or innovation from indigenous entrepreneurs that might be able to leverage their cultural strengths into 21st century market relevance. And attempting to legitimize this rape in the events of December 5th, 2006, shows conclusively that “one size does not fit all”.

Dr. Mere Tuisalalo Samisoni (25th January 2009) elected SDL Member for Lami Open (deposed 2006).

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