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The Use of Racist Language (and Canada)

D-CardD-Card Registered User regular
edited March 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/03/08/canada-minorities.html
Canada should reconsider using the term "visible minorities" to define people facing discrimination, a United Nations anti-racism watchdog reports, suggesting the phrase itself is discriminatory.

Among those is the use of the term "visible minorities," which the committee says "may not be in accordance with the aims and objectives of the Convention."

The convention is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which says distinction based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is discriminatory.

It calls on Canada to "reflect further" on the use of the term visible minorities.

Basically, the committee called Canada out on its use of the term "visible minorities" as an official government classification. It also mentioned inferior treatment of First Nations citizens and police agression towards Blacks.

Now, I found the language point to be very interesting. I have grown up with the term "visible minority" in common usage, and I never really batted an eye at it. I also never thought that it really applied to me, even though I suppose it technically does. However, now that I think about it, it is kind of...racist. As in, it singles out "them peoples what look different" from the Europeans.

Anyways, what are your thoughts on this, or language like this in general? Do the classifications the government gives us have any meaningful effect? Does it affect our perceptions of each other, or does it reflect perceptions already in place? Is it all just a big Stephen Harper conspiracy?

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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The term "visible minorities" is useful precisely because it "singles out 'them peoples what look different' from the Europeans".

    European immigrants and their descendants tend to have very different experiences when compared to people from a visible minority. The whole DWB racial profiling thing is a perfect example of this.

    Grid System on
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    MVMosinMVMosin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2007
    I grew up using the term Negro. I never thought of it as having any sort of racist connotation until I started traveling: specifically to the United States.

    So, when I say Negro now, people act as if I'm committing some sort of atrocity, and I don't let it get to me. After spending a few years around that sort of element, I've learned that they find any term that acknlowledges the racial differences between us to be offensive.

    Maybe others see it differently, but it seems to me that they're trying to tip-toe around the fact that we are different. In my book, that's more offensive than some arbritrary word.

    MVMosin on
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    D-CardD-Card Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I think the problem, though, is that it lumps everyone who isn't white into a single, homogenous block of "other". Why not just classify people as "Indian", "Chinese", "Korean", if we're going to classify them based on cultural background? Like I said, I never identified as a "visible minority", but I did identify as Chinese (although only marginally so).

    D-Card on
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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The Canadian government does distinguish between the different visible minorities. Sometimes it is useful to have a catchall term though so they don't have to write out "Chinese, Indian, Korean, African, Middle Eastern, Aryan (Iranian), West Indian, South Pacific Islander..."

    Grid System on
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    StephenB.2006StephenB.2006 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Firstly, any legislation that distinguishes any group or individual from any other is inherently racist. The concept of protected and preferential treatment for minorities is absurd. All that such measures can hope to achieve is placing the unprotected at a disadvantage and shifting the pain of racism from one group to another. Such legislation serves to reinforce the notion of racial division and implant a mindset of entitlement in certain groups that ultimately adversely affects them.

    Second, I can understand finding visible minority offensive as it suggests a difference between visible minorities and other minorities who, by contrast, must be invisible. This suggests a lack of importance and also precludes their protection under the visible minority law.

    Interestingly enough, if everyone was afforded equal protection under every law, this wouldn't be an issue. But equal protection for everyone would just be racist, wouldn't it?

    StephenB.2006 on
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    ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The whole point of affirmative action etc. is that racism still exists and measures have to be undertaken to counteract its effects. It's no good throwing your hands up in the air and saying "we should all just hope everyone treats each other equally!!"

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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2007
    MVMosin wrote: »
    I grew up using the term Negro. I never thought of it as having any sort of racist connotation until I started traveling: specifically to the United States.

    Well, it never used to have any negative connotations. It's what the blacks themselves preferred to be called. And then one day they decided they preferred "black", and that if you called them "negroes" you were a racist.

    Whee, labels.

    Re: the OP, "visible minorities" is a useful and non-racist term, and the UN can eat a dick.

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    DortmunderDortmunder Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    It's a bunch of crap if you ask me.

    Like Grid System said, we are not going to start listing off half of the countries on the planet whenever referring to non-caucasians.


    Was it a slow day at the U.N. or something? Don't they have more important stuff they could be doing?

    Dortmunder on
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    StephenB.2006StephenB.2006 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The whole point of affirmative action etc. is that racism still exists and measures have to be undertaken to counteract its effects. It's no good throwing your hands up in the air and saying "we should all just hope everyone treats each other equally!!"

    Which gives rise to qualified applicants being overlooked because the quota requires another minority of some sort and sometimes, the minority applicant isn't the best candidate for the job. Unless you're suggesting that the minority applicant is always the best candidate?

    StephenB.2006 on
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    Der Waffle MousDer Waffle Mous Blame this on the misfortune of your birth. New Yark, New Yark.Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The whole point of affirmative action etc. is that racism still exists and measures have to be undertaken to counteract its effects. It's no good throwing your hands up in the air and saying "we should all just hope everyone treats each other equally!!"
    Which gives rise to qualified applicants being overlooked because the quota requires another minority of some sort and sometimes, the minority applicant isn't the best candidate for the job. Unless you're suggesting that the minority applicant is always the best candidate?
    The lack of which would lead to qualified minority applicants being overlooked because they are of part of a minority.


    AN IMPASSE!

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    StephenB.2006StephenB.2006 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Not really. If better qualified minority applicants are overlooked because of discrimination on the part of one hiring manager, the market tells us that another hiring manager can pick up those better qualified applicants and stomp the other company into the ground with its superior human capital. The end result is that racism in hiring practices only serves to damage your own company and benefit your non-racist competitors.

    StephenB.2006 on
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    Capt HowdyCapt Howdy Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    In a perfect world, they wouldn't need the term. But this isn't a perfect world, and I imagine this helps with legislation and census collections.

    Personally, it bothers me. Realistically, I see why they have/use the term. People need to come to grips with that fact that sometimes, just soemtimes, something that bothers you isn't actually wrong/evil thus requiring a permaban.

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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Which gives rise to qualified applicants being overlooked because the quota requires another minority of some sort and sometimes, the minority applicant isn't the best candidate for the job. Unless you're suggesting that the minority applicant is always the best candidate?


    Quotas haven't been legal in the United States since the 70s.

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    ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Not really. If better qualified minority applicants are overlooked because of discrimination on the part of one hiring manager, the market tells us that another hiring manager can pick up those better qualified applicants and stomp the other company into the ground with its superior human capital. The end result is that racism in hiring practices only serves to damage your own company and benefit your non-racist competitors.

    Yet people still do it. Oh well, tough luck brownies!

    Æthelred on
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    StephenB.2006StephenB.2006 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Quotas haven't been legal in the United States since the 70s.

    Also, the government always acts in your best interest, political lobbys are benevolent in nature, and businesses operate solely to benefit their customers.

    As for people discriminating in hiring practices, yes, they still do it. However, it isn't to the detriment of the better qualified minority candidate. That individual still gets a job somewhere. It's to the short-term benefit of the less qualified candidate who is hired and the short and long term detriment of the discriminating company. Unless your assertion is that every HR person everywhere is racist, being more qualified means getting the job.

    I suppose it's always nice to be able to claim racism, though.

    StephenB.2006 on
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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I don't know, I think the U.N. kind of has a point in so far as our government labeling people "visible minorities" is one point on a very long, greasy incline that also includes Jews wearing blue hats.

    But one thing I've always disliked has been identity politics.

    Andrew_Jay on
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    ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    However, it isn't to the detriment of the better qualified minority candidate.

    Being turned down for a job isn't to a person's detriment? Well I never. And I didn't call you a racist; don't play the anti-racist card on me.

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    AnimeleeAnimelee Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    As a natural born Canadian (born in Kitchener, Ontario, raised in Brampton, Ontario) who also happens to be a coloured person (no, I don't find the term "coloured people" offensive), I'd like to bring my opinion into this, as well.

    Personally, I really don't care what people use as labels -- colours (black, white, brown, yellow, red), nationalities (Jamaican, Scottish, Indian, Chinese, Native), regions (African, European, South Asian, East Asian, Native), or hyphens (African-Canadian, European-Canadian, South Asian-Canadian, East Asian-Canadian, Native-American). I've heard that the terms "yellow" and "red" are now offensive, though.

    It's hard to keep up!

    Honestly, as someone in biology, I wish we didn't have to use these unscientific labels, but I realize it's necessary for describing someone to the police, pointing someone out in a crowd using the least amount of words possible, etc. But I don't even have a label for myself! My mom is from Guyana, and my dad is from Sri Lanka. What the hell do I call myself? Mixed? Brown? Black? I tend to stick with Canadian, thank ye. I know very little of my parents' cultures, I hate curry to death (the smell, taste), I speak with a General American accent, so if no one knew exactly how I looked, I would be labeled white. Yet, based on how I look, the UN is pressuring the government to come up with a new label for me, and therefore I am entitled to different treatment based on that. Hell, I don't care if that treatment is beneficial, I don't want it. I want everyone to be treated on how they act, not how they look. Sounds cliché, but it's what a lot of us "coloured people" want.

    Just when you think we're progressing, too.

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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I think the last few censuses (censi?) have shown increasing numbers of people identifying their nationality simply as "Canadian" even though the question is looking for answers like English, Indian, Japanese, Guyanese, etc.

    I like that.
    Animelee wrote: »
    Yet, based on how I look, the UN is pressuring the government to come up with a new label for me, and therefore I am entitled to different treatment based on that. Hell, I don't care if that treatment is beneficial, I don't want it. I want everyone to be treated on how they act, not how they look. Sounds cliché, but it's what a lot of us "coloured people" want.
    I don't think the U.N. is looking for a new label at all - rather, it sounds like you and the U.N. are on the same page. They don't want people singled out for being different either, even if it does carry benefits.

    Andrew_Jay on
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    AnimeleeAnimelee Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Andrew_Jay wrote: »
    I think the last few censuses (censi?) have shown increasing numbers of people identifying their nationality simply as "Canadian" even though the question is looking for answers like English, Indian, Japanese, Guyanese, etc.

    I like that.
    Animelee wrote: »
    Yet, based on how I look, the UN is pressuring the government to come up with a new label for me, and therefore I am entitled to different treatment based on that. Hell, I don't care if that treatment is beneficial, I don't want it. I want everyone to be treated on how they act, not how they look. Sounds cliché, but it's what a lot of us "coloured people" want.
    I don't think the U.N. is looking for a new label at all - rather, it sounds like you and the U.N. are on the same page. They don't want people singled out for being different either, even if it does carry benefits.

    Oh yeah, I feel like a moran now. You know when you're reading something, and you either: read the same line twice, or, think you've already read that line, so you skip it? Yeah, the latter happened to me. :X

    I guess my I like sticking it to the man instinct took over! :X

    Okay, I'll complain about the government. I think they're out to get me. On the census form from last year that I filled out for us online, they forced me to choose four ancestral countries for my parents. I kept trying to go to the next section, but everytime I clicked NEXT, it would tell me in red letters I'd have to enter four countries to proceed. So I just stuck in a bunch of countries like Libya, Vietnam, Nepal, Scotland for my parents.

    Two weeks later, they're forcing me to take part in a Statistics Canada phone poll every month. Damn gummyment.

    The real point of my newer post was to complain about how they force us to choose four countries, even if we have no damn clue. We have to be labeled, it doesn't matter what we choose, as long as it's convenient. I wish they'd, at the most, just ask where our parents came from, and leave it at that.

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    Der Waffle MousDer Waffle Mous Blame this on the misfortune of your birth. New Yark, New Yark.Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Andrew_Jay wrote: »
    I think the last few censuses (censi?) have shown increasing numbers of people identifying their nationality simply as "Canadian" even though the question is looking for answers like English, Indian, Japanese, Guyanese, etc.

    I like that.

    Strangely enough, someone can come up to me and call me some of the worst derogitary terms relating to my aboriginal heritage, and I'd probably just laugh it off.

    But call me "canadian"? Oh no, that I cannot abide.

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    MVMosinMVMosin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2007
    I like Canada. It's like one of those relatively empty servers on WoW. If you don't want idiots getting in your way, you just... Well, nothing. Just live your life. But, if you NEED those idiots (and you will) you just head to Ironforge (Montreal, or whatever city is convenient or preferred) and you can find them when you need them.

    MVMosin on
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    crakecrake Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    That term ("visible minorities") used to really disturb and confuse me when I was younger. Growing up from pretty much day one to the first day of college, I was the minority. I'm white, but all my friends, many of my teachers, and other folks I encountered were of other races. So while I recognized that I was in the minority, I was always peeved by how my peers of other races always got the extra opportunities from whatever organization as said organization had quotas to fill or what have you. As I grew older, I saw the irony in this of course.


    -canadian from toronto

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    ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2007
    As for people discriminating in hiring practices, yes, they still do it. However, it isn't to the detriment of the better qualified minority candidate. That individual still gets a job somewhere. It's to the short-term benefit of the less qualified candidate who is hired and the short and long term detriment of the discriminating company. Unless your assertion is that every HR person everywhere is racist, being more qualified means getting the job.

    I suppose it's always nice to be able to claim racism, though.
    Having fewer options to choose from is not a detriment?

    Elki on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I don't understand what the problem with the term "visible minorities" is. Somebody at the UN thinks its racist... why?

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    supertallsupertall Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I don't see how replacing "visible minorities" with a synonym could be considered less racist. I really don't think it's racist to begin with, anyways.

    supertall on
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    DortmunderDortmunder Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I don't understand what the problem with the term "visible minorities" is. Somebody at the UN thinks its racist... why?

    Because they are retarded. Honestly, they did not think this one all the way through when they brought it up at the big U.N. table.

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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    supertall wrote: »
    I don't see how replacing "visible minorities" with a synonym could be considered less racist. I really don't think it's racist to begin with, anyways.
    It has nothing to do with whether it sounds mean, and everything to do with the connotations behind it, which is basically "hey, buddy, are you different?"

    Now, I don't think it's that huge a deal but can sort of see the merit in the U.N.'s statement - mainly because, like I mentioned before, I don't very much like identity politics to begin with (which is what the term "visible minority" caters to).

    Andrew_Jay on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Yeah, the usage of 'visible minorities' by the Federal Government has been superceded by the realities of urban Canada. I live in the Fraser Valley of BC, about an hour outside of Vancouver. All throughout the valley there are communities where the so-called 'visible minorities' are either the outright majority (those of Chinese descent in Richmond) or are the largest ethnic group of the plurality (Indo-Canadians in Surrey, for instance).

    I don't really have a solution to this, though. I suppose you could identify by geographic extraction...But what constitutes an Asian? Is it someone from China? India? Russia? What about a European? A Swede or a Sicilian? Blah. I'm with AJ on this one; identity politics are the suck.

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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »

    Re: the OP, "visible minorities" is a useful and non-racist term, and the UN can eat a dick.


    I couldn't agree more.

    I also don't see any reason why white minorities can't be included under "visible minorities".

    The Italian population in Toronto? Visible minority. French population? Visible minority.

    Seriously, what's the UN gonna do, issue a harshly worded memo?

    Al_wat on
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    CalciumCalcium Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    $10 says if this actually catches on, people will shorten it to "vismins" or something.

    Seriously though, there's not too much difference between "visible minorities" and "them people that's not like us" other than the former sounds prettier.

    Calcium on
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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Al_wat wrote: »
    The Italian population in Toronto? Visible minority. French population? Visible minority.
    Italians, French, Ukrainians, etc. are visibly different from the so-called majority now? Think about that for a second.

    It's funny how people are railing against the U.N. over this because their stance is perceived as being nothing but namby-pamby extreme political correctness. In reality, the U.N.'s argument is the complete opposite - that our use of "visible minority" is an unnecessary and potentially counter-productive/harmful attempt at political correctness.

    "Visible minority" is close to being Canada's equivalent to "affirmative action" - but because it is so broad, the U.N. is saying that it's a poor policy that emphasises division and "differentness".

    Andrew_Jay on
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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Go to Danforth in Toronto. Tell me that the Greeks and Italians are not a visible minority compared to the Anglo-Saxon majority.

    edit: my point is that you can tell people are a different culture despite the fact that they aren't brown.

    Al_wat on
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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Ha ha semantic laws



    Well, now that we're into semantics, "discrimination" applies to any technique that can excise a portion group from the total sample pool. So I guess "Penny Arcade Forum Goers" and "hey, you there!" are discriminatory statements.


    But I'm being stupid, go on.

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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Al_wat wrote: »
    Go to Danforth in Toronto. Tell me that the Greeks and Italians are not a visible minority compared to the Anglo-Saxon majority.

    edit: my point is that you can tell people are a different culture despite the fact that they aren't brown.
    Yes, but "visible minority" does not mean that at all - it means "non-white".

    Statistics Canada:

    Visible minority -

    Chinese
    South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Punjabi, Sri Lankan)
    Black (e.g., African, Haitian, Jamaican, Somali)
    Arab/West Asian (e.g., Armenian, Egyptian, Iranian, Lebanese, Moroccan)
    Filipino
    South East Asian (e.g., Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Vietnamese)
    Latin American
    Japanese
    Korean
    Other

    Andrew_Jay on
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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I see what you mean.

    I'm just going to keep on thinking the whole thing is retarded though.

    Al_wat on
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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    so what if michael jackson goes to canada

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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Eh, it's a useful term.

    There are many "invisible" minorities. But if nobody -realizes- that you're a minority, they're not going to treat you as a minority.

    Armenians, for example. When and where they are visible (some have very distinct features), they tend to take a lot of flak.

    Others, nobody realizes they're not just British-blooded people who happen to have a slightly largish nose, maybe from getting hit by a basketball once.

    Incenjucar on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Eh, it's a useful term.

    There are many "invisible" minorities. But if nobody -realizes- that you're a minority, they're not going to treat you as a minority.

    People who can pass still feel the effects of racial disempowerment--a lot of which just have to do with feeling alienation from popular culture, negative self-image, and so on.

    MrMister on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Eh, it's a useful term.

    There are many "invisible" minorities. But if nobody -realizes- that you're a minority, they're not going to treat you as a minority.

    People who can pass still feel the effects of racial disempowerment--a lot of which just have to do with feeling alienation from popular culture, negative self-image, and so on.

    Yes, but that's also what most teenagers and sub-culturists feel as well.

    Invisible minorities have social issues, yes.

    Visible minorities have -economic- issues.

    One is slightly more immediate.

    Incenjucar on
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