Sunday, April 29, 2018

Blacksmithing - Race & Gender

Where are the *black* blacksmiths?
This came up in a general discussion here yesterday. The current population of Artisan Blacksmiths, certainly in Ontario, but also generally in North America, are almost totally 'white'.
Not even likely to be 'visible minority'?
It is most likely raw numbers and residence ?

If Wikipedia is at all accurate, in Canada (via 2016 statistics), 23% of the total population is defined as 'visible minority'. (Actually 26% for Ontario). Of those - only 3.5% are defined as 'black'.
Generally this would suggest that at the least, roughly one quarter of currently practicing artisan blacksmiths in Ontario should be 'visible minority'. I can certainly tell you that this is *not* the case.

Important is also that as of 2010, a total of 81% of the entire population was defined as 'urban' (certainly higher at this point.) This skews the demographics considerably :
1) Artistic Blacksmithing remains an activity most commonly located in rural or semi-rural locations. (Although I certainly see a higher and higher count of 'urban' people as initial students.)
2) Toronto perceptions most definitely distort observations. In Toronto, 'visible minority' are the *dominant* group, at 52% of the total. 'Black' makes up roughly 10% of the total population.
There are most likely other 'cultural' aspects involved. Artistic Blacksmithing tends to attract individuals interested in historic objects and traditional skills. Just who's history and traditions?

The *biggest* void is actually with women!
Females outnumber males overall in the Canadian population.
In Ontario, my observation of the number of women involved in artistic blacksmithing is roughly 15%.
Although it is very true women were almost excluded from blacksmithing *historically*, the environment has been seriously shifting over my own lifetime of involvement. (So consider this from late 1970's onward.) Still it is clear that women are not properly representative of their population.

PS - this is not intended to provoke racist comments, from either side. I refuse to rise to that provocation.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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