Transcript: Being Brown Around the World | Jul 14, 2016

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her thirties, with shoulder-length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over an orange blouse, and a silver pendant necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine."
Then, it changes to "Being brown around the world."

Nam says IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY TEEMING WITH
GUEST WORKERS AND MIGRANT
LABOURERS WHO TRAVEL HALFWAY
AROUND THE WORLD TO MAKE ENDS
MEET, IS BROWN THE COLOUR OF
CHEAP LABOUR?
THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE TOUGH AND
INSIGHTFUL QUESTIONS KAMAL
AL-SOLAYLEE CONSIDERS IN HIS NEW
BOOK "Brown: What being brown in the world today means to everyone."
HE'S AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT
THE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AT
RYERSON UNIVERSITY, AND HE JOINS
US ONCE MORE HERE IN THE STUDIO.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is off-white, with the title in shades of brown.
Kamal is in his forties, with short gray hair and a stubble. He's wearing a gray suit and a blue shirt.

Nam continues WELCOME BACK.

Kamal says THANK YOU AGAIN FOR HAVING ME.

Nam says NOW, WHEN YOU WROTE THIS BOOK,
YOU TRAVELLED TO TEN COUNTRIES,
FOUR DIFFERENT CONTINENTS.
AT ANY TIME DID YOU FEEL UNSAFE?

The caption changes to "Kamal Al-Solaylee. Author 'Brown.'"
Then, it changes again to "Visible, but invisible."

Kamal says I THINK I WOULDN'T SAY "UNSAFE."
I MEAN, THERE WERE PARTS IN THE
PHILIPPINES THAT I WOULD
HAVE--YOU KNOW, I LIVE IN
TORONTO WHICH IS PRETTY SAFE, SO
THERE WERE PARTS OF THE
PHILIPPINES THAT WERE ROUGH
AROUND THE EDGES, BUT I FELT
UNCOMFORTABLE IN PLACES LIKE
PARIS BEING A BROWN-SKINNED
MUSLIM MAN AFTER CHARLIE--A FEW
MONTHS AFTER CHARLIE HEBDO.
I FELT UNCOMFORTABLE AS WELL
IN--ON THE STREETS OF PHOENIX,
ARIZONA BECAUSE THERE IS A KIND
OF ENCOUNTER BETWEEN WHITE
POLICE OFFICERS AND UNDOCUMENTED
MIGRANT WORKERS, LARGELY
MEXICAN.
AND I COULD EASILY BE SORT OF
MISTAKEN FOR ONE, SO I CARRIED
MY ID WITH ME AT ALL TIME IN
CASE I GOT STOPPED.
SO, I WOULDN'T SAY--I WOULDN'T
SAY, I MEAN, UNSAFE NECESSARILY,
BUT I CERTAINLY FELT THE
TENSIONS IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT
I VISITED.

Nam says AND YOU WERE JUST VISITING, SO
IMAGINE IF YOU LIVED THERE.

KAMAL SAYS AND I WAS
JUST VISITING, YEAH.

Nam says YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK THAT BROWN
PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE BUT REMAIN
INVISIBLE OR NAMELESS.
HOW SO?

Kamal says HOW SO, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, I
WOULD SORT OF ENCOURAGE YOU TO
SORT OF WALK AROUND THE STREETS
OF TORONTO AND LOOK AT THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE SERVING IN THE
FOOD COURTS, IN COFFEE SHOPS.
IF YOU STAY LATE IN THE OFFICE,
WHO COMES AND CLEANS THE OFFICE
LATE AT NIGHT?
WHO IS TAKING CARE OF THE
CHILDREN, YOU KNOW?
THE NANNIES.
WHO ARE TAKING CARE OF THE
ELDERLY?
AND TELL ME IF THESE--IF THESE
PEOPLE HAVE ANY KIND OF--I WON'T
SAY NAME RECOGNITION--IF THERE'S
ANYONE SPEAKING ON THEIR BEHALF.
THEY KIND OF--THEY FADE INTO THE
BACKGROUND.
THEIR ROLE AGAIN IS TO SERVE
OTHERS, AND IT'S NEVER ABOUT
THEM.
IT'S NEVER ABOUT THEIR NEEDS,
BUT IT'S ABOUT THEM FULFILLING
THE NEEDS OF OTHERS.
SO IN THAT SENSE, I DO--I DO
ARGUE THAT THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
AT LARGE RELIES ON LABOUR BY
MIGRANT WORKERS,
PARTICULARLY BROWN MIGRANT WORKERS.
BUT THEY'RE NOT PART OF THE
CONVERSATION ABOUT THE ECONOMY
AND WHO BENEFITS FROM THAT
ECONOMY.

Nam says WHAT'S OUR ROLE IN SOCIETY THEN?
ARE WE IN CAHOOTS ABOUT HOW
PEOPLE ARE BEING TREATED?
ARE WE OK WITH IT?

Kamal says SO, I--I SORT OF ARGUE IN THE
BOOK THAT WE HAVE SORT OF
ACCEPTED THAT AND MAY HAVE EVEN
GAINED FROM THAT, ALL OF US,
BECAUSE SOME BIG
CORPORATIONS--WHETHER IT'S A BIG
CORPORATION OR IT'S JUST A YOUNG
FAMILY WHO'S LOOKING FOR SOMEONE
TO LOOK AFTER THE KIDS WHILE
BOTH PARENTS GO TO WORK.
SO, WHAT THE SOLUTION IS IN
VIEW--GIVEN THAT THERE'S LACK OF
NATIONAL--LIKE DAYCARE
FACILITIES...
LET'S GET A FILIPINO PERSON OR
INDONESIAN PERSON AND PAY HER
SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN WHAT A
CANADIAN PERSON WOULD ACCEPT TO
WORK IN THAT JOB.
SO, WE ARE--WE ARE IN A
WAY--WE'RE ALL CAHOOTING.
AND THE POINT IS THAT WE HAVE TO ASK:
ARE WE OK WITH AN ECONOMY THAT
REALLY RELIES ON THE UNDERPAID
LABOUR OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
THAT--BUT AT THE SAME TOKEN,
THEY'RE THE ONES WHO KEEP OUR
BUSINESSES OPEN; THEY KEEP OUR
COFFEE SHOPS OPEN; THEY KEEP OUR
CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER; OUR
ELDERLY TAKEN CARE OF.
NOW, THIS IS A CONVERSATION THAT
I WOULD--I HOPE THE BOOK WILL START.

Nam says IT GOT ME THINKING A LOT.
SO, IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IF
YOU'RE A LIGHT-SKINNED UNSKILLED PERSON?

Kamal says I THINK IF YOU'RE UNSKILLED, YOU
COULD PROBABLY MAKE UP FOR IT BY
THE FACT THAT YOU'RE LIGHT SKINNED.
BUT IF YOU'RE UNSKILLED AND DARK
SKINNED, THEN YOU'RE PROBABLY
GONNA GET THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE JOBS.
EVEN WITHIN SORT OF THE
LOW-PAID, LABOUR INTENSIVE
'CAUSE I'M TRYING TO AVOID THE
WORD "MENIAL" BECAUSE ALL WORK
IS MEANINGFUL AND ALL WORK IS
IMPORTANT.

Nam says WHAT IF YOU'RE DARK SKINNED AND
MIDDLE CLASS?

Kamal says IF YOU'RE DARK SKINNED AND
MIDDLE CLASS, YOUR EXPERIENCE
WILL--WILL DEPEND LARGELY ON THE
CONTEXT.
SO, WITHIN THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW
YOU AND THE SECTORS YOU WORK IN,
YES YOU MAY DO WELL.
BUT JUST WALKING DOWN THE STREET
WHEN NO ONE KNOWS YOU, YOU'RE
JUST A VERY DARK-SKINNED PERSON.
YOU'RE PROBABLY THOUGHT OF AS AN
IMMIGRANT WHO DOESN'T SPEAK
ENGLISH, FOR EXAMPLE, IN A
CANADIAN CONTEXT.

Nam says WELL, IN THE BOOK YOU WRITE
ABOUT A YOUNG MAN WHO WENT TO
FASHION SCHOOL.
AND WHEN HE GOT THERE FOR AN
INTERNSHIP AT LOUIS VUITTON, I THINK...

Kamal says RIGHT, YEAH.

Nam says THEY ASSUMED HE WAS THE CLEANING PERSON?

The caption changes to "Colour lines of labour."

Kamal says HE WAS THE CLEANING PERSON, AND
THEY JUST POINTED TO THE CLOSET
WHERE THE CLEANING--WITH THE
BUCKETS AND THE CLEANING
DETERGENTS ARE BECAUSE THEY JUST
LOOKED AT HIM AND ALMOST LIKE,
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE AT THIS
SORT OF HIGH-FASHION OUTLET?"
AND BECAUSE THERE'S A CERTAIN
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN SKIN COLOUR
AND THE KIND OF LABOUR AND THE
KIND OF WORK THEY DO, HE WAS
NEVER SEEN AS A FASHION DESIGNER
OR A POTENTIAL FASHION DESIGNER
BUT THE PERSON WHO HAS COME TO
CLEAN THE OFFICE.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT DOES TO
SOMEONE'S PSYCHE WHERE PEOPLE
ALWAYS HAVE SUCH LOW
EXPECTATIONS FROM YOU?

Kamal says THAT'S A VERY GOOD QUESTION.
I THINK IT'S--I THINK IT'S
DEMORALIZING BECAUSE WHEN YOU
ACTUALLY SUCCEED IN SOMETHING,
THERE MAY ALSO BE THE FEAR THAT
YOU ONLY SUCCEEDED BECAUSE OF
POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION OR
BECAUSE SOMEONE TOOK PITY ON YOU
OR SOMEONE DECIDED TO GIVE YOU A
LEG'S UP INSTEAD OF YOU ACTUALLY
HAD WORKED TO BE WHERE YOU ARE.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, I REMEMBER WHEN
I GOT A JOB AS A PROFESSOR AT
RYERSON, ONE OF MY COLLEAGUE
LOOKED AT ME AND SAID,
"OH, THEY LOVE YOU.
YOU HAVE A PHD, AND YOU'RE A
VISIBLE MINORITY."
AND I FELT REALLY HURT BY THAT
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, I ALSO WORKED
VERY HARD TO GET--AND I APPLIED
FOR THAT JOB AND I PREPARED
REALLY HARD, AND I'D LIKE TO
THINK I GOT IT FAIR AND SQUARE.
BUT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE,
I'LL PROBABLY WONDER WAS I
HIRED--WAS I A DIVERSITY HIRE?

Nam says 'CAUSE THE SEED HAS BEEN PLANTED.

Kamal says YES.

Nam says YOU WRITE--WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
FILIPINOS BEFORE AND FILIPINO NANNIES.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO
CATEGORIZE FILIPINOS AS BROWN?

The caption changes to "At the world's service."

Kamal says I MEAN, AGAIN, SORT OF LARGELY
BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THEY WERE
PLACED ORIGINALLY IN THE BROWN
RACE IN THE 19TH CENTURY
RACIALIST SCIENCE.
AND BECAUSE WITHIN THE
PHILIPPINES, THERE ARE TWO
CATEGORIES OF--LIKE THE MALAY,
THE BROWN, OR THE
CHINESE-FILIPINO.
AND MOST OF THE DOMESTIC WORKERS
IN HONG KONG TEND TO COME FROM
THE MALAY RACE BECAUSE THE
CHINESE COMMUNITY IN THE
PHILIPPINES IS SEEN AS THE
MARKET-DOMINANT COMMUNITY.
BUT THAT'S NOT TO SAY THAT--THAT
WHETHER YOU'RE OF A CHINESE
BACKGROUND--CHINESE-FILIPINO OR
MALAY, ONCE YOU'RE IN THAT
DOMESTIC WORK REALM, YOU'RE SEEN
AS NON-CHINESE ANYMORE.
SO, IN THE CONTEXT OF HONG KONG,
YOU'RE SEEN AS BROWN; YOU'RE
SEEN AS THIS OTHER FILIPINO
PERSON COMING FROM--FROM AN
ASIAN COUNTRY THAT IS NOT AS
ECONOMICALLY ADVANCED AS HONG KONG.

Nam says THAT'S REALLY INTERESTING.
WHY IS THAT?

Kamal says I THINK, AGAIN, IT'S WHAT WE DO.
LIKE, IT GETS SORT OF--IT
REFLECTS--IT GETS REFLECTED BACK
ON OUR SKIN COLOUR.
SO, I TALK IN THE BOOK--I MOVED
TO THIS--ABOUT SIX YEARS AGO, I
MOVED TO A BUILDING
LARGELY--SORT OF IN MIDTOWN
TORONTO, LARGELY WHITE AND
ELDERLY RESIDENCE.
AND I HAD A DOG AT THE TIME, AND
I WAS TAKING HIM OUT FOR A WALK.
AND SOMEBODY AUTOMATICALLY
ASSUMED I WAS THE DOG WALKER NOT
ACTUALLY A RESIDENT AND ASKED
FOR A BUSINESS CARD.
AND I THINK--I MEAN, IT WAS
SUMMER, SO I WAS KIND OF
DRESSED, YOU KNOW, IN SHORTS
AND...

Nam says YOU'RE BEING KIND.

Kamal says I'M TRYING TO BE.
I LOVE MY NEIGHBOURS NOW.
BUT I THINK THE ASSUMPTION WAS
THAT I DIDN'T BELONG IN THAT
BUILDING.
SO, IF I HAVE A DOG THEN I MUST
BE A DOG WALKER AND DOING, YOU
KNOW, A JOB FOR LIKE 15 BUCKS AN
HOUR 'CAUSE THAT'S--THAT'S MY
PLACE IN THE WORLD.

Nam says WELL, YOU WRITE, "THE
PHILIPPINES TAKES PRIDE IN ITS
PEOPLE POWER."
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Kamal says THEY TRAIN PEOPLE TO WORK ABROAD
AND TO SERVE OTHERS.
AND THERE'S--THERE ARE
SOME--THEY HAVE PLACED SOME
SAFEGUARDS AROUND THE SAFETY AND
THEIR WELL-BEING WHILE THEY'RE
ABROAD.
BUT THEY ALSO RELY ON THE MONEY
THEY SEND BACK TO THEIR
FAMILIES...

Nam says REMITTANCES.

Kamal says REMITTANCES THAT THEY SEND BACK.
AND IT'S BECOME A VERY SORT OF
REGULATED INDUSTRY.
IT IS--IT--WHEN I WENT TO THIS
SCHOOL THAT PREPARES PEOPLE TO
WORK ON CRUISE SHIPS AND CLEAN
HOTELS, AND THERE'S A CERTAIN
KIND OF PRIDE THAT THEY TAKE IN
SERVING OTHERS.
NOW, NOT EVERYONE AGREED THAT
THAT'S A GOOD THING, BUT THEY
ARE TRAINED TO--THEY'RE TRAINED
HOW TO SERVE OTHERS WITH A SMILE
CONSTANTLY.
THAT I FIND KIND OF ON ONE PART
CHARMING AND ON ANOTHER PART
KIND OF CREEPY AS WELL.

Nam says RIGHT.
BECAUSE IT'S--IS THERE A DEMAND
FOR FILIPINO WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD?

Kamal says ABSOLUTELY.

Nam says AND IS THAT PART OF THE
REASON BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN
TRAINED TO BE SERVICE, TO WORK
IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY?

Kamal says THEY'VE BEEN TRAINED TO SERVE OTHERS.
SO, FOR--IN THE KITCHENS--'CAUSE
I ALSO VISITED THE KITCHEN OF
THAT SCHOOL, THEY'RE NOT TRAINED
TO PREPARE FILIPINO FOOD AT ALL
BECAUSE THEY'RE--IT'S ASSUMED
THAT THEY WILL WORK ABROAD OR
ABOARD CRUISE SHIPS IN WHICH
CASE IT'S LARGELY OTHER JAPANESE
OR GERMAN.
SO, THEY ALSO HAVE TO TRAIN A
LITTLE BIT OF JAPANESE AND A
LITTLE BIT OF GERMAN LANGUAGE.
AND THEIR THINKING IS THAT THEY
WILL--THEY WILL ACT AS PEOPLE
WHO GIVE OTHER PEOPLE GOOD
TIMES.
THAT THEY WILL MAKE THEIR TRIP
BETTER.
THEY WILL MAKE THEIR BEDS; THEY
WILL CREATE THESE TOWELS IN THE
SHAPE OF ANIMALS WHICH I FOUND
ONE OF THE WEIRDEST THINGS I'VE
EVER SEEN.
AND THEY WILL THEN--BUT THEY
WILL KIND OF SLIDE INTO THE
BACKGROUND AFTER THAT.

Nam says I MEAN, IT'S ONE—
[SIGHS]
I'M TRYING TO COLLECT MY
THOUGHTS ON THIS QUESTION
BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE THE
GOVERNMENT IS TRAINING FILIPINOS
TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY TO WORK ABROAD.
BUT WHEN PEOPLE LEAVE THE
COUNTRY, THEY'RE LEAVING THEIR FAMILIES.
DOESN'T THAT AFFECT--DOESN'T
THAT COME INTO PLAY?
LIKE HOW...

Kamal says IT DOES BECAUSE--AND THERE'S--I
MEAN, THERE ARE A LOT OF STUDIES
ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE MIGRANT
WORKER--WORKERS BOTH ON
THE FAMILIES THEY LEAVE
BEHIND AND ON THE WORKERS THEMSELVES.
SO, IN THE CASE OF DOMESTIC
WORKERS--THE FEMALE DOMESTIC
WORKERS--AND 83 percent OF PEOPLE WHO
WORK IN THE DOMESTIC SORT OF
SERVICE ARE FEMALE--THERE ARE
SOME POSITIVE IMPACTS AS WELL.
SO YES, THEY DO LEAVE THEIR
CHILDREN BEHIND.
AND I INTERVIEW MANY WOMEN IN
THE BOOK WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THEIR
CHILDREN FOR TWO, THREE, OR FOUR
YEARS, AND THEY SPEND ALL THEIR
TIME RAISING OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN.
BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS THEM TO SEND
MONEY BACK TO THEIR FAMILIES
ALLOWING THEIR KIDS TO GO TO
BETTER SCHOOLS, MAYBE HAVE
BETTER FOOD ON THE TABLE, LIVE
IN SAFER NEIGHBOURHOODS.
SO, THERE IS AN IMPACT ON--THAT
THESE WOMEN PARTICULARLY--THE
MONEY THAT THEY SEND BACK
ACTUALLY SPREADS THROUGHOUT THE
COMMUNITY AND SORT OF GOES MUCH
FURTHER.

Nam says AND YOU SAY THAT THESE WOMEN ARE HEROES.

Kamal says I DO THINK SO; I DO THINK SO.
THEY'RE RESILIENT.
THEY ARE--THEY ARE HARDWORKING.
I MEAN, THEY'RE WORKING
DAY IS 12, 14--LIKE, 16 HOURS
ON AVERAGE.
TAKE ONE DAY OFF A WEEK.
AND--AND THEN--AND YET THEY ARE
CHARMING; THEY ARE--THEY'RE
WILLING TO TALK TO ME.
I--I MEAN, IN MANY CASES, I FIND
THAT THE MORE--I FIND IT HARD TO
ACTUALLY GET HOLD OF, FOR
EXAMPLE, FILIPINO OFFICIALS.
WHEREAS, I FIND IT SO EASY TO
TALK TO THE WORKERS BECAUSE THEY
WAS FAR MORE JUST GENEROUS AND
KIND AND WILLING TO TELL THEIR
STORIES.

Nam says YOU ALSO VISITED HONG KONG.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE
TREATMENT OF DOMESTIC WORKERS IN
THAT COUNTRY?

Kamal says WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THE
DOMESTIC REALM IS THAT IT
IS--IT'S A PRIVATE REALM, SO
IT'S NOT LIKE YOU CAN GET A
LABOUR INSPECTOR TO COME INTO
YOUR HOME AND SEE WHERE YOUR
DOMESTIC MAID IS LIVING.
SO, ONCE YOU--ONCE THAT
ARRANGEMENT, EVEN THOUGH IT'S
WORK; IT'S LABOUR, IT UNFOLDS IN
A DOMESTIC SPACE.
SO, IT'S HARD TO KIND OF
ENFORCE--ENFORCE NOTIONS OF
FAIRNESS AND THE NUMBER OF
HOURS YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO WORK.
AND THE SITUATION HAS IMPROVED,
BUT THERE ARE MANY, MANY CASES
OF ABUSE AND VIOLENCE, BOTH
VERBAL AND PHYSICAL.

Nam says CAN YOU TELL US SOME STORIES OF
HOW SOME OF THESE WORKERS HAVE BEEN TREATED?

Kamal says CERTAINLY.
SO, THEY FACE PRESSURE--I'M
ASSUMING YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
HONG KONG WOMEN--FILIPINO WOMEN
IN HONG KONG.
THEY FACE PRESSURE FROM THE
CHINESE--FROM CHINESE FAMILIES
BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY--THEY'RE
WORKING IN A VERY INTIMATE
SPACE.
THEY'RE IN THE HOME.
SO, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT--THAT
THEY WOULD TELL ME IS FOR
EXAMPLE THAT THE--THE KINDA LADY
OF THE HOUSEHOLD MIGHT FEEL
JEALOUS BECAUSE THIS--THIS
FILIPINO WOMAN IS SPENDING MORE
TIME WITH HER CHILDREN THAN SHE IS.
AND THEY MAYBE KINDA FEAR THAT
THE HUSBAND AND THE KIDS NOW SEE
HER MORE IN THE MOTHER FIGURE ROLE.
SO, THEY TEND TO BE A KIND
OF--NOT JUST--INSTEAD OF
APPRECIATION FOR THE WORK THAT
THEY DO, THERE'S ALSO--IT COMES
WITH A RESENTMENT ABOUT--ABOUT
THEM USURPING THE ROLE THAT
USUALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN PLAYED
BY THE MOTHER IN THE HOUSE.
BUT THE--THE LIVING CONDITIONS
SOMETIMES DON'T REALLY GET A--I
MEAN, MOST OF THE DOMESTIC
WORKERS, IN FACT ALL OF THE
DOMESTIC WORKS IN HONG KONG,
HAVE TO HAVE LIVING
ARRANGEMENTS.
SO, THEY HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE
FAMILY THAT HIRED THEM.
AND--BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU
GET YOUR OWN ROOM.
OR WHAT YOU GET IS MAYBE--IF
YOU'RE LUCKY--A LITTLE ALCOVE
WHERE YOU SLEEP.
IN--ON A MATTRESS IN
THE KITCHEN OR SOMEWHERE IN A
CORRIDOR OR A HALLWAY.
NO PRIVACY.
AND YOU ARE AT THE BECK AND CALL
OF YOUR EMPLOYERS 24 HOURS A DAY.
SO, IF YOU HAVE AN OLDER PERSON
WHO'S SENILE OR WHO'S GOING
THROUGH DEMENTIA...
GETS UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
NIGHT, STILL PART OF YOUR JOB IS
TO--THERE'S NO SEPARATION
BETWEEN, "THIS IS NOW MY BREAK;
I'M OFF FOR THE EVENING."
IT JUST CONTINUES SIX DAYS A
WEEK, SOMETIMES SEVEN DAYS A
WEEK.
AND ALL OF THAT, IN ADDITION TO
THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SOME
RACIST OVERTONES IN THE WAY THAT
THEY'RE--BECAUSE THEY'RE
DARKER SKINNED, BROWN BASICALLY,
THAT THEY'RE NOT--THEY'RE NOT
WORTHY OF THE SAME HUMAN
TREATMENT.

Nam says THAT THEY'RE OWNED, THAT THEY'RE THINGS.

Kamal says THAT THEY'RE OWNED.
THEY'RE LARGELY PROPERTY, YES.

Nam says AND THERE'S LIKE DOMESTIC
WORKERS FROM SRI LANKA AS WELL.

Kamal says RIGHT.

Nam says DO YOU--ARE THEY TREATED
DIFFERENTLY FROM FILIPINOS OR?

The caption changes to "In the shadow of the Philippines."

Kamal says YES, IN PART BECAUSE THE
TRAINING OF SRI LANKAN DOMESTIC
WORKERS IS NOT AS WELL DEVELOPED
AS THAT IN THE PHILIPPINES.
SO, THEY--I MEAN, ONLY RECENTLY
HAS SRI LANKA TAKEN INITIATIVES
TO TRAIN THEIR WORKERS.
AND TO TRAIN THEM ALSO TO--IN
THE SENSE OF EMPOWERING THEM TO
SAY NO AND TO SAY, "I'M NOT
GONNA DO THAT EXTRA WORK UNLESS
YOU PAY ME."
AND THEN IT SORT OF GOES ALSO TO
A MUCH MORE SERIOUS THING OF
EITHER BEATING OR RAPE...
OR SOMETIMES ALSO MURDER.

Nam says YOU ALSO WROTE ABOUT VISITING QATAR.
AND YOU CITE A PRETTY STARTLING
STATISTIC.
ON AVERAGE, ONE MIGRANT WORKER A
DAY DIES BUILDING ITS OFFICE
TOWERS, STADIUMS, AND OTHER
PARTS OF THE COUNTRY'S
INFRASTRUCTURE.

s a says RIGHT.

a a says HOW DO YOU RECONCILE SUCH
HORRIBLE TREATMENT HAPPENING
TOWARDS FELLOW BROWN PEOPLE IN A
BROWN COUNTRY?

The caption changes to "Hostility in Qatar."

s a says WELL, I MEAN, IT WAS VITAL FOR
ME TO VISIT A PLACE LIKE QATAR
BECAUSE I REALLY WANTED TO--TO
SHOW THAT SORT OF ANTI-BROWN
RACISM, ANTI-BROWN SENTIMENTS.
IT'S NOT JUST SOMETHING THAT
HAPPENS IN A WHITE OR A CHINESE
CONTEXT, BUT IT CAN HAPPEN
WITHIN THE BROWN COMMUNITY.
SO, QATARI PEOPLE MAY WELL BE
DARKER SKINNED THAN SOME OF THE
WORKERS THAT THEY HIRE.
BUT THEY HAVE THE BENEFIT AND
THE HUGE PRIVILEGE OF MONEY AND STATUS.
LIKE, I NEVER SAW--I NEVER SPOKE
TO A SINGLE QATARI PERSON WHILE
I WAS THERE BECAUSE I--YOU KNOW,
THEY'RE SORT OF ISOLATED FROM...

Nam says REALLY?
YOU DIDN'T SPEAK TO ONE PERSON?

s a says NOT ONE, EXCEPT MAYBE AT THE AIRPORT.

Nam says SO, ALL THE WORKERS ARE IN ONE SEPARATE...

Kamal says IN ONE SEPARATE
SECTION, ONE SEPARATE PART
OF TOWN BASICALLY.
THEY'RE LITERALLY IN A GHETTO
WHERE THE WORKERS LIVE,
THE INDUSTRIAL AREA.
AND WHAT HAPPENS THERE IS THAT
YOU HAVE A POPULATION
LIKE--WHETHER IT'S QATAR OR
SAUDI ARABIA OR DUBAI--THAT IS
SO EXTREMELY WEALTHY THAT IT
SHIELDS THEM FROM--FROM THE
EXPERIENCE OF THE DOMESTIC--OF
THE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WHICH
THEY IMPORT BY THE MILLIONS
BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THERE AREN'T
ENOUGH QATARI MEN TO DO THE
CONSTRUCTION WORK.
SO, YOU HAVE TO--YOU HAVE TO
BRING IN--IN FACT, 100 percent OF THAT
LABOUR IS--IN THE CONSTRUCTION
INDUSTRY--IS IMPORTED.

Nam says I WAS GOING TO ASK BECAUSE MAYBE
QATAR MEN THINK THAT'S BENEATH
THEM TO DO, MAYBE?

Kamal says WELL, CERTAINLY.

Nam says YEAH.

Kamal says THEY COULD NOT POSSIBLY LIVE ON
THE WAGES THAT THESE WORKERS RECEIVE.
AND WHAT HAPPENS HERE IS JUST
THE KIND OF THE HUBRIS OF AN
ECONOMY THAT HAS DONE SO WELL.
AND NOW ALL THE JOBS THAT
THEY'RE--LIKE, THEY--THEY DON'T
WANNA DO, THEY CAN DO, IT JUST
GETS FARMED OUT.
IT JUST GETS FARMED OUT TO
PEOPLE WHO ARE EITHER DARK
SKINNED OR DARKER SKINNED.

Nam says AND THEY'RE SO FAR REMOVED FROM
THEIR DAILY EXISTENCE, YOU KNOW?

Kamal says THEY'RE COMPLETELY OUT OF SIGHT.

Nam says YEAH.

Kamal says I MEAN, THEY BASICALLY SORT OF
BUST IN AND OUT OF BETWEEN THE
CONSTRUCTION SITE AND THE HOME.
THEY'RE ALLOWED TO KIND OF GO
INTO--I MEAN, THEY'RE ALLOWED TO
ROAM FREELY OBVIOUSLY IN THE
INDUSTRIAL AREA, BUT YOU DON'T
SEE MANY OF THEM JUST WALKING
DOWN THE DOWNTOWN PARTS OF DOHA
UNLESS THEY'RE ALSO WORKING,
WORKING THERE.

Nam says AND WHAT ARE PEOPLE GIVING UP
WHEN THEY MIGRATE TO QATAR?

Kamal says THEY'RE CERTAINLY GIVING UP THE
FAMILY CONNECTIONS THAT THEY HAVE.
I SPOKE AGAIN TO MANY
MEN--'CAUSE, YOU KNOW, IN HONG
KONG I TALKED TO WOMEN.
SO, IN QATAR I TALKED TO MEN WHO
HAVE NOT SEEN THEIR SPOUSES OR
THEIR CHILDREN FOR MANY, MANY
YEARS.
THEY'RE GROWING--THEY'RE GROWING
AWAY--THE CHILDREN ARE GROWING
UP AWAY FROM THEM.
AND I WILL SAY HOWEVER THAT
THEY--WHEN THE CONTRACTS ARE ALL
SORT OF LEGAL, AND THEY GET THE
MONEY THEY WERE PROMISED...
THESE MEN ARE THEN ABLE TO
SAVE MUCH MORE THAN THEY WOULD
HAVE BEEN ABLE TO IN THEIR
HOME--IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY--SRI
LANKA IN THIS CASE.
IT'S JUST SIMPLY--IN SOME CASES,
YOU GET PAID FOUR TIMES AS MUCH
AS YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID IN
SRI LANKA.
NOW AGAIN, THAT'S A SALARY THAT
YOU AND I WOULD NOT ACCEPT.
LIKE, I WOULD NOT GO AND WORK IN
DOHA FOR 400 dollars A MONTH, BUT TO
SOME OF THESE WORKERS, 400 dollars A
MONTH IS A WINDFALL.

Nam says WHEN YOU SEE PEOPLE--MIGRANTS ON
BOATS--I ALWAYS THINK, "WELL,
WHATEVER THEY'RE LEAVING MUST BE
WORSE...

Kamal says RIGHT.

Nam says THAN WHAT THEY'RE--YOU KNOW,
BEING IN A BOAT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE."

Kamal says RIGHT.
AGAIN, IF YOU--YOU'RE FACING
DEATH ON YOUR JOURNEY ACROSS THE
SEA OR DEATH AT HOME.
AND YOU CHOOSE, "OK, I'D RATHER
DIE IN SEA THAN DIE IN A WAR ZONE."
THAT TELLS YOU WHAT A HARD
DECISION THAT IS.
AND ESPECIALLY--I MEAN, IF I
WERE BY MYSELF, THAT WOULD BE
ONE THING.
BUT TO TAKE YOUR CHILDREN AND TO
PUT YOUR CHILDREN THROUGH THAT RISK.
AND LARGELY, THE PEOPLE WHO
ARE--WHETHER IT'S SYRIAN, IRAQI,
LIBYAN, THIS IS THE WAVES OF
MIGRATION NORTH AFRICA AND THE
MIDDLE EAST TOWARDS EUROPE AT
THE MOMENT THAT WE'RE SEEING, AS
WE SPEAK, IS A LARGELY BROWN
WAVE OF MIGRANTS.

Nam says AND YOU SPENT SOME TIME IN THE U.K.
AND YOU ALSO WRITE ABOUT SOME OF
THOSE EXPERIENCES.
AND IN THE BOOK YOU GO BACK, AND
YOU SAID SOMETHING THAT I
THOUGHT WAS REALLY INTERESTING.
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE PREVENT PROGRAM.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT THAT?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/current-affairs"

Kamal says OK, IT'S PART OF THIS SORT
OF--PART OF THE CULTURE OF THE
POST-9-11 WORLD IN GENERAL.
AND IN THE U.K., PARTICULARLY
THE JULY 7 BOMBINGS IN LONDON, 2005.
AND IT IS--IT'S A KIND OF A
PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE, IN A WAY,
AGAINST TERRORISM.
IT HAS DIFFERENT COMPONENTS, BUT
ONE OF THEM IS PREVENTING PEOPLE
FROM BECOMING RADICALIZED.
AND BY THAT I MEAN MUSLIM, YOUNG
MUSLIM MEN AND WOMEN FROM
BECOMING RADICALIZED.
AND WHAT IT IS IS, IT KIND OF
IMPLIES THAT THERE IS A KIND OF
A--THE CONVEYOR BELT THESIS THAT
IF YOU START BY JUST
SAYING--LIKE, I FEEL
UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT THE
TREATMENT OF MUSLIMS IN
AFGHANISTAN, THAT--AND THEN THAT
MIGHT BECOME THE FIRST
INDICATION THAT YOU'RE BEING
RADICALIZED.
SO, THE PREVENT PROGRAM ACTUALLY
ASKS LIKE SCHOOL TEACHERS,
DOCTORS, SOCIAL WORKERS TO KEEP
AN EYE ON ANY HINTS OF
RADICALIZATION.
SO IN ONE CASE, I ATTENDED
THIS--THIS DAY CONFERENCE WHERE
PEOPLE WERE SHARING STORIES.
AND SO, WHEN SOME PERSON--WHEN
SOME YOUNG MUSLIM CHILD
TALKED--WHEN SOME CHILD, I
SHOULD SAY, BECAUSE I'M NOT 100 percent
SURE HE WAS MUSLIM--TALKED ABOUT
SORT OF BIOLOGICAL DEGRADATION
AND WHAT WE'RE DOING TO NATURE,
WAS REPORTED TO THE PREVENT
PROGRAM AS, "OK, THIS GUY--THIS
CHILD IS STARTING TO THINK ABOUT
RADICAL IDEAS."
AND JUST...

Nam says HE'S BEING CRITICAL.

Kamal says HE'S BEING CRITICAL.
AND THE THINKING--THE THINKING
IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK MAY LEAD
INTO ACTIONS THAT THE BRITISH
GOVERNMENT WOULD DRAW
THEIR--WOULD TRY TO STOP YOU
FROM DOING.
BUT THAT--THAT'S SUCH AN
INTELLECTUAL--THAT'S AN
INTERFERENCE IN YOUR FREEDOM OF
SPEECH AND ALSO IN YOUR FREEDOM
OF THOUGHT.
YOU'RE ALLOWED TO THINK THAT
THERE'S OPPRESSION IN THE MUSLIM
WORLD, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN
THAT YOU WILL THEN TAKE UP JIHAD.
BUT THE PROBLEM WITH PREVENT IS
THAT IT ASSUMES THAT ONE WOULD
LEAD TO ANOTHER.

Nam says I WANNA BRING THIS BACK HOME TO
NORTH AMERICA.
AND WHEN IT COMES TO DEBATES ON
IMMIGRATION AND SECURITY IN BOTH
THE U.S. AND CANADA...

Kamal says RIGHT.

Nam says LATINOS AND MUSLIMS ARE CAUGHT
IN THE MIDDLE.

Kamal says RIGHT.

Nam says HOW INVOLVED WOULD YOU SAY THEY
ARE IN SHAPING THE DISCOURSE ON
THIS, ON THESE ISSUES LIKE BROWN PEOPLE?

The caption changes to "The wedge issue."

Kamal says I WOULD SAY THAT WE FALL UNDER
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PARTS OF
THAT SAME--OF THE SAME--LIKE THE
BORDER CONVERSATION.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, LATINO MEXICAN
WORKERS FIND THEMSELVES SORT OF
UNDER THESE UNDOCUMENTED,
ENTERING THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY.
CROSSING, YOU KNOW--CROSSING
SORT OF BORDER STATES BETWEEN
MEXICO AND THE U.S.
AND THEIR PRESENCE BECOMES A
PROBLEM BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT
SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.
BUT THE THING ABOUT MUSLIM
COMMUNITIES AND BROWN
COMMUNITIES, OF MUSLIM FAITH IN
PARTICULAR, IS THAT THEY--IN
MANY CASES, THEY HAVE BEEN THERE
FOR GENERATIONS, AND THEY ARE
THERE.
AND THEY'RE THERE BECAUSE
THEY'RE THERE TO STUDY OR TO--OR
TO WORK OR TO CONDUCT BUSINESS,
AND THEY'RE ENTERING THE COUNTRY
LEGALLY.
AND YET, THEIR--THEIR PRESENCE
IS SEEN AS SUSPICIOUS.
HOW MUCH ARE WE--WHEN--AS A
COMMUNITY, WE'RE NOT ALWAYS VERY
VOCAL ABOUT EXPRESSING PROTEST
ABOUT THE WAY WE GET TREATED.
AND I--I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S
SOMETHING THAT WILL CHANGE, BUT
I CERTAINLY--I CERTAINLY HOPE
THAT THE--THOSE TWO COMMUNITIES
WILL WORK TOGETHER BECAUSE THE
ISSUES MAY BE DIFFERENT, BUT
THESE--BEING TREATED WITH
SUSPICION IS THE SAME.

Nam says NOW, AFTER WRITING THIS BOOK,
WHAT INSIGHTS HAVE YOU DRAWN
ABOUT YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE AS A
BROWN PERSON LIVING IN CANADA?

Kamal says I SUDDENLY BECAME REALLY AWARE,
NOT SO MUCH OF MY SKIN COLOUR,
BUT OF MY RACE PRIV--OF MY--I'M
SORRY, OF MY CLASS PRIVILEGE.
THAT'S A FREUDIAN SLIP.

[NAM LAUGHS]

Kamal says OF MY CLASS--I BECAME AWARE OF
MY CLASS PRIVILEGE.
THAT BEING A UNIVERSITY
PROFESSOR, BEING A JOURNALIST IN
MANY WAYS PROTECTS ME FROM A
NUMBER OF EXPERIENCES THAT NEWER
IMMIGRANTS ARE GOING THROUGH.
AND THAT IN SOME CASES, DESPITE
THE FACT THAT I AM--WHEN I'M
WALKING DOWN THE STREET, I AM
PERCEIVED AS A BROWN PERSON, BUT
THERE ARE WAYS I CONDUCT
MYSELF--THE WAY I DRESS; THE WAY
I TALK; THE WAY I JUST GENERALLY
BEHAVE--THAT IS DESIGNED TO KIND
OF PROTECT ME FROM BEING SEEN AS
SUSPICIOUS.
SO, WHENEVER I TRAVEL, I
ACTUALLY DRESS UP BECAUSE I WANT
TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
AND I NOTICE THAT I'M LESS
LIKELY TO BE STOPPED FOR
RANDOM--RANDOM SECURITIES CHECK
OR SECONDARY CHECK AS THEY SAY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81"

Nam says KAMAL, I WISH I HAD YOU AS
A PROFESSOR WHEN I WAS AT RYERSON.

Kamal says I WISH I HAD YOU AS A STUDENT!
YOU WOULD BE A VERY TOUGH STUDENT.

[NAM LAUGHS]

Nam says THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR
BEING ON THE SHOW.

Kamal says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Nam says IT WAS A PLEASURE.

Kamal says NAM, THANK YOU.

Nam says NICE TO MEET YOU.

Watch: Being Brown Around the World