This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Wide World of Discrimination

Many of the evils and problems of the world stem from xenophobia--the fear of strangers. People too often hate and mistrust people who are different from them for the simple reason that they are different in some way or another. When we call these differences "demographic characteristics" they seem harmless enough, but in real life they are often very poisonous. Yesterday's New York Times had two unconnected examples of this, and you can probably find examples any day on any news medium. The first story comes from Saudi Arabia where the minority Shia Muslim population lives under constant threat of discrimination in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country.
Saudi Shiites mostly live in the Eastern Province, also home to the kingdom’s oil industry, and complain that they lack access to government jobs, education and full rights of worship. The government denies those charges.
The second story is perhaps more egregious and comes from Russia. 
The governor of Russia’s Krasnodar region, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2014, has enlisted the area’s Cossacks as an auxiliary police force, urging them to prevent darker-skinned Muslims from the North Caucasus from moving there.He said ethnic Russians there were “already feeling uncomfortable,” and that the people who settled the region, Cossacks among them, “year after year are losing their position.”
“Who will answer when the first blood is spilled, when interethnic conflicts start? And sooner or later it will happen,” Mr. Tkachev said. 

These migrants are internal migrants, by the way, not people coming from another country. And the kicker is that in the United States the term "Caucasian" is often used to mean "White, non-Hispanic." It doesn't seem to mean that in Russia these days.

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