Interview: Interracial Friendships

Two friends sit at a restaurant talking intently

Below is an excerpt from a new interview with me, by Santilla Chingaipe, published on ABC Life.

“Research shows that white people do not have many racial minority friends,” says Sydney-based applied sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos. Dr Zevallos points to one US study that found for the average white person, over 90 per cent of their social networks are also white. “And the average white person will only have one Black friend, one Asian friend, or whatever.” […]

“One of the areas where friendships are less explicit is around race,” Dr Zevallos says. “There are lots of norms about race that people bring into their friendships, but by virtue of being a racial minority, Aboriginal people, and other people of colour who are migrant and refugee background people, will be more aware and have spent a lot more time thinking about these things.” […]

What happens when friends don’t want to engage with conversations around race? Dr Zevallos says that is indicative of how narrowly race is understood in Australia.

“It allows them [white people] to opt out whenever they feel like it. When they get tired and they don’t want to think about the benefits of the way society is organised around race,” she says.

So, what does a healthy interracial friendship look like? Dr Zevallos says it requires all parties to do the work. But for racial minorities, she argues that includes placing boundaries on friendships.

“Nobody, especially racial minorities, should be expected to be educating people one-on-one on race when there are millions of free resources online,” she says. “Just as we learn to drive or just as we learn new skills … if we’re not willing to make the time to learn about race, then I would probably say that we do not deserve to have the benefits — the warmth, the love that comes from interracial friendships — until we’re willing to do that work.”

Read more on ABC Life.

Interview: Pandemic Misinformation

I spoke with Angeline Chew Longshore from The Mauimama about my article, “Using sociology to think critically about Coronavirus COVID-19 studies.” We talked about how I was motivated to write about the sociology of science because I saw so many people struggling to make sense of the pandemic. We discussed how national cultures are impacting responses to the virus, why precarious employment in healthcare is causing high rates of infection, and how we can better check whether the information we hear is credible.

The pandemic is scary, and so much conflicting advice can be difficult to sort through. A quick way in which we can make sense of what we think we hear in news and social media is to ask four questions:

  1. Why do I think this is true?
  2. Where did I get this information?
  3. Whose interest does it serve?
  4. Does this maintain the status quo?

If something seems too neat, or convenient, or only helps a narrow group in power, it is best we dig deeper into the theories, methods and conclusions. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Watch the video below, for which you can turn on captions. Otherwise read a transcription for accessibility further down.

Pandemic Misinformation – CoronaMama Zoom Room. Via Mauimama Magazine
Continue reading Interview: Pandemic Misinformation

Interview: Moral Panic

Oil painting picture of my face. I have short black hair, wear a colourful mask and colourful top with drawings of women

The past of the month has proved especially busy. I’ve done a few media interviews and launched a new webseries with Associate Professor Alana Letin, called Race in Society. More on these projects in the coming days. Today, I look back on my interview with 3CR Diaspora Blues about my article, Pandemic, race and moral panic. Listen below, with a transcription for accessibility further down.

3RC Diaspora Blues Moral Panic with Dr Zuleyka Zevallos
Continue reading Interview: Moral Panic

Virus, community, activism

Oil painting image of protesters at a Black Lives Matter Protest in Sydney. They are wearing surgical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic

Since I last wrote you, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has obviously transformed the world. I went into voluntary lockdown in early March, and Australia went into official lockdown at the end of March. I’ve been writing a lot on the pandemic on my social media, especially on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram stories, as well as on my research blog.

Today, from 2.30pm-3pm AEST, you’ll be able to hear about some of this work on COVID-19. I did an interview with Bigoa and Baasto on 3CR Diaspora Blues about my research on Pandemic, race and moral panic. Below is a preview of the interview.

Continue reading Virus, community, activism

Race and education

A drawing of a woman of colour holding up her mobile taking a photograph

Today, read about an interview with me on the social construction of race and a forthcoming presentation on vocational education and training.

Race

I was interviewed by Metro (UK) for their series, The State of Racism:

“…Race is a social construction,” says Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos, Adjunct Research Fellow at Swinburne University. “Race is a system of classification and stratification, based on perceived biological differences. Race is stratification because these categories rank some groups as superior to others. It’s not based on some innate and immutable scientific fact.”

Read more on Metro UK.

Continue reading Race and education

The Rest of You Can Go Next

A yellow sign with a black arrow points to the right. It is hung on a wooden fence, with three plants of variable height in the forefront

On 6 February, I presented at the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association (ACRAWSA) Conference. My paper was titled, ‘The Rest of You Can Go Next: Using Intersectionality in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Programs.’ The distinguished keynote was delivered by Professor Patricia Hill Collins, author of Black Feminist Thought, and, along with Sirma Bilge, co-author of Intersectionality. It was a wonderful conference. I felt good about my paper. My summary of the event will be on my blog soon.

In the meantime, here is my abstract:

This paper addresses the racial silences that women of colour navigate when developing and managing equity, diversity and inclusion programs. I draw on a critical autobiography of memory and trauma (Thompson and Tyagi 1996), analysing the impact of my career on my life as a woman of colour. Of my two-decades working as a sociologist, I’ve spent 14 years employed across public service, not-for-profit, and consultancy contexts. I reflect on the evolution of managerialism, which is increasingly eager to be seen as responsive to intersectionality, whilst remaining hostile to anti-racism (Ahmed 2017). I outline the barriers, negotiation and resistance strategies used when delivering public programs intended to serve marginalised communities, whilst simultaneously challenging racism, sexism and other workplace discrimination. I show how intersectionality is deployed in corporate branding, and the impact of diluting the race component of intersectionality from ‘equity, diversity and inclusion’ programs. Intersectionality provides a critical framework for exploring how race and gender simultaneously impact legal, economic and other institutional outcomes (Crenshaw 1989). These dynamics are disparately experienced by Aboriginal women and femmes, other Black people, and other migrants (Bottomley, de Lepervanche and Martin 1991; Collins and Bilge 2016; Moreton-Robinson 2000). Here, I focus on the racial, gendered and mental health costs of delivering social change.

I hope to finalise a peer reviewed paper on this soon, and then we can expect the usual glacial delay on a forthcoming publication. Until then, I’m getting ready to publish a resource about evidence-based actions institutions can take using intersectionality, to improve equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Keep an eye on my blog, The Other Sociologist, for this over the coming days.

Interview: Many Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

Women of colour sit in a meting room. Above them is the title: Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

I was interviewed by Buzzfeed, about a new study by Professor Kate Clancy and colleagues, showing women of colour scientists are more likely to experience race and gender harassment. Women of colour scientists are also excessively critiqued for being either too feminine or masculine enough, they have their physical abilities questioned, and they are more likely to miss professional opportunities like conferences, fieldwork, classes and meetings because their workplaces are unsafe. My comments from the interview:

“The study really reinforces a lot of what the literature already tells us — that women of colour are more likely to experience multiple forms of harassment and feel more acutely the impact of a hostile work environment in the sciences,” Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia, told BuzzFeed News.

Although this isn’t the first study to show evidence of the “double bind” of racial- and gender-based harassment, some critics continue to deny that the effect is real.

“A lot of the pushback that we see in the individual scientific communities —astronomy or any other science — is that scientists want data,” Zevallos said. “And even though there’s a plethora of data, it’s like they need to see more data for themselves.”

Continue reading Interview: Many Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

Event: Race and Dating, 26 April, Sydney

I’ll be on a panel in Sydney, on 26 April, talking about the sociology of race and dating!Details about the event from the promoter.

Conscious Dating – Race and Dating

Conscious Dating Co explores what it means to date consciously in a series of panels and workshops.

What influences attraction? Is racial bias affecting your dating life? How do you deal with being fetishised? And can we all expand our dating pool by mindfully inspecting our own racial biases?

Conscious Dating Co-founder Kaila Perusco will host a panel discussion with award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and host of SBS’s Date My Race, Santilla Chingaipe; writer and equal rights advocate Andy Quan; and applied sociologist Dr Zuleyka Zevallos.

Join us for a fascinating insight into modern dating!

Get tickets.

Details
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
7:00pm 8:30pm
107 Redfern Street Redfern, NSW, 2016 Australia

Conscious Dating - Race and Dating

The Walking Dead: Gender, Race & Sexuality

Rosita and Tara from The Walking Dead

This article was first published on Medium, 2 April 2015

Warning: analysis and spoilers for Seasons 1 to 5.

Like millions of fans around the world, I love The Walking Dead, and I’m an avid horror aficionado. Yet after five seasons, with breathtaking plot twists and turns, The Walking Dead’s treatment of gender, race and sexuality remains stagnant. For a show that takes many liberties when asking the audience to suspend disbelief, there’s one area it has no trouble maintaining a familiar narrative: the dominance of White, heterosexual men.

Since it launched, the show has focused on relationships and character development. This proved a novel way to bring horror to popular TV. Anthropologist, Professor Juan Francisco Salazar and Dr Stephen Healy, a geographer, argue that Season Five “reflects on the meaning of group solidarity in a brave new world.” The researchers demonstrate how various social science readings of the show centre on social anxiety. In their view, this most recent season was concerned with “Rick’s communitarian family.” That is, the other characters on the show who have bound together supposedly through Rick’s leadership, even when there have been long periods (notably Season 3) when Rick provided little guidance.

The show invites its audience to consider their own bravery under zombie duress. Would we panic and leave sweet Noah stuck in a revolving door swarming with zombies? Would we become “weak” within the walls of Alexandria? Should this frustrating person or that annoying character be killed? The show does not encourage us to think about why the writers persist on upholding White men as leaders, and why White women, people of colour and other minorities are notably absent from the narrative landscape.

It’s no accident that the diplomatic and inclusive leadership of Deanna (a White woman), flawed as it may be, is presented as fundamentally irrational because of its inclusive ideals. Meanwhile, Rick, a White man, is presented as the only model for viable leadership in spite of his flaws.

Michonne looks at her sword as she runs moves it through the air
Michonne from The Walking Dead

Continue reading The Walking Dead: Gender, Race & Sexuality

“You Have to be Anglo and Not Look Like Me”: Identity and Belonging Among Young Women of Turkish and Latin American Backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia

You Have to be Anglo and Not Look Like Me”: Identity and Belonging Among Young Women of Turkish and Latin American Backgrounds in Melbourne

This article was first published in 2008 by the Australian Geographer journal.* 

ABSTRACT

This study examines the ethnic identities of 50 second-generation migrant-Australian women aged 17–28 years. Twenty-five women were from Turkish backgrounds and 25 women were from South and Central American (or ‘Latin’) backgrounds. The overwhelming majority of the women interviewed for this study had travelled extensively to their families’ countries of origin, and their experiences growing up in Australia alongside their ongoing overseas visits shed light on transnational ties and the negotiation of ethnicity and belonging in the Australian multicultural context.

A typology of the women’s migrant-Australian identities highlights the differences and similarities of experiences among the women in both groups, and reveals the role of social context in shaping identity. Islam was a primary source of identification for most of the Turkish women, as a form of pan-ethnic identity. Participants exhibited a good deal of agency in their identity choices, and this was specifically connected to their transnational positioning. However, while most of the women took on a transnational identity to some degree, their experiences of racism and social exclusion reproduced an ambivalent sense of belonging to Australia. Their sense of being allowed to belong ‘where they are at’ remained salient to the ways in which they constructed their identities.

Transnationalism: Cultural, social & political transactions that connect migrants to their ancestral homelands. - Dr Zuleyka Zevallos
Transnationalism: Cultural, social & political transactions that connect migrants to their ancestral homelands. – Dr Zuleyka Zevallos

Keywords: ethnicity, identity, social constructionism, transnationalism, Turkish, Latin American, Australian culture, multiculturalism Continue reading “You Have to be Anglo and Not Look Like Me”: Identity and Belonging Among Young Women of Turkish and Latin American Backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia

“Because We Live in a Multicultural World”: Multiculturalism as a Lived Ideology

This article was first published in 2006 as part of the Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings

Introduction

Photo by DIAC Images on Flickr. CC.

This paper argues that Australian multiculturalism represents an ideology that migrants can draw upon in order to make sense of their everyday social experiences, their identities and their relationship to the nation.  Ideology is a widely contested concept and it has various meanings.  Generally, ideology refers to a normative set of beliefs that ‘tell us what we ought to do’ or how things should be, they are built upon central values and they have political value (Drucker 1974: 43).  A narrative of national identity which is based on multiculturalism could be seen in terms of dominant and contested ideologies.  For example, constructions of an Anglo-Celtic majority identity in Australian society could be seen as a dominant ideology, because such constructions maintain Anglo-Celtic hegemony despite our policies of multiculturalism (cf. de Lepervanche 1980; Hage 1998; Stratton 1998; Vasta 1996).  Alternatively, constructions of the nation based on cultural pluralism could be seen as competing, or contested, ideologies because they challenge Anglo-Celtic dominance.  Ideas are constructed by those in power as well as by less powerful people going about their everyday lives and so ideology can be challenged through social interaction and social discourses.

I am not looking at multicultural ideology in terms of dominant/competing ideologies, although I do discuss some hegemonic processes related to multiculturalism, such as the concept of race.  I am more interested in looking at the ideology Australian multiculturalism as a set of normative beliefs that argue Australian society should be organised around a principle of cultural plurality, and what this entails, from the point of view of the women that I interviewed for my research (for definitions of multiculturalism as an ideology see Lopez 2000: 3; Vasta 1993: 212).  I will also look at the benefits and costs that the ideology of multiculturalism has for my participants.  Looking at multiculturalism as ideology allows us to ask, why do some people believe what they do about multiculturalism?, or as Betts put it, ‘what’s in it for them?’ (1999: 30).  First, this paper describes the women’s constructions of Australian multiculturalism.  Second it investigates issues of identity.  Third, it discusses the impact of racist constructions of the Australian identity on the women’s sense of belonging to the nation.  I conclude with a discussion of Australian multiculturalism as a lived ideology in relation to the data generated by my research.