Mixed-race unions have been on the rise across Canada since 'We were just gawked at': Mixed-race families common in Canada but I said, 'Point out the good people,' and he picked someone white. And then I said, 'Point out the bad people,' and he pointed to the black people, and I said, 'Oh my God. Here's what the census says about the dating pool and how to improve your chances – although Statistics Canada can only help with problems. How did families adjust to the entirely new settings of white/black/Hispanic/ Chinese/ Filipino/ and the Please browse Statistics Canada data on this subject.
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It's a question that intrigues Minelle Mahtani, who has dared to ask whether interracial couples and their families still test the limits of tolerance in this country. In her recent book Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality in Canada, Mahtani, an associate professor in human geography and journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough, questions whether we've not just put rose-coloured glasses on our multiculturalism, especially where mixed-race families are concerned.
Story continues below advertisement While interracial relationships are on the rise in Canada we had , mixed-race couples in , more than double the total from 20 years earlier , the numbers remain slim. Just 5 per cent of all unions in Canada were between people of different ethnic origins, religions, languages and birthplaces in , the last year Statistics Canada collected such data.
That figure rises only marginally in urban areas: Just 8 per cent of couples were in mixed-race relationships in Toronto, 10 per cent in Vancouver. How do people in interracial relationships experience that multiculturalism on the ground, when they introduce their boyfriends and girlfriends to family, or hold hands on a date? How do mixed-race families and their children feel about it, in their communities and in their schools?
Mahtani was the keynote speaker at last month's Hapa-palooza , an annual festival celebrating mixed heritage in Vancouver, and she will present at the next Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in California in February. She spoke with The Globe and Mail about the daily realities of mixed-race families.
How tolerant are Canadians of interracial relationships today? It's an early kind of euphoria around celebrating multiracialism in Canada. We've romanticized this notion far too quickly. All the numbers from Statistics Canada show that yes, we are seeing more interracial relationships, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the racism is decreasing. People who are in interracial relationships are still experiencing a lot of racism.
What kind of criticism do mixed-race people in this country still get for their dating choices? So much depends on where the relationship is happening and the class background of the people who are getting involved.
Even though there's a greater tolerance of interracial relationships, some researchers talk about this as a kind of "repressive tolerance": Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement So many of the mixed-race people I interviewed spoke about the challenges that their own parents faced as interracial couples.
We're talking about kids whose parents met in the seventies and earlier when there was much more outright, blatant racism experienced by interracial couples. Often, the parents did not talk to their kids about the racism they faced, even though it was considerable. It's something I call "cocooning": These parents wanted to create a little, happy home for their kids, the progeny of the interracial relationship.
This silence had a huge impact on the way mixed-race children felt growing up. When they experienced racism themselves in the school system, they didn't want to tarnish their parents' experience of race, assuming that it was fairly pristine simply because it was never discussed in the household. And so a chasm was created. It's why today, so many of these now-grown-up mixed-race people are very upfront with their own kids, talking through the racism they have experienced.
Beyond parenting, what happens between people in interracial relationships when they struggle with racist family members, or encounter stares or slurs in public? It corrodes the trust that can exist between them because of misunderstandings. And it becomes very tiring for the person of colour always to be explaining to the person who is white the challenges that they face, explaining, "This is what it's like for me.
These are the consequences of the choices that we're making that I have to face in my community. Story continues below advertisement It's only through partnering and being on a really deeply intimate level with somebody that we see how they live out their lives. For people who are not racialized on a day-to-day basis — people who are white — they see how the person of colour experiences race every single day.
They understand the racial gaze a lot more. Having that window is really interesting and it's key for the white person. They get to experience a whole different dimension of how race is lived out in Canadian society. Let's turn to mixed-race Canadians: And then I said, 'Point out the bad people,' and he pointed to the black people, and I said, 'Oh my God.
How do you fit into Canada's multicultural puzzle? She says she always made both her parents attend her talent shows and after-school programs because "I'm also half white and people would never believe me. Steven Reid stopping to take a selfie of his family: Submitted by Steven Reid "I can distinctly remember that no one came to me and said, 'Are you the biological father? Canada indeed continues to become more diverse. According to data from the census released by Statistics Canada last week, 7.
If the Canadian government wants to assess the impact of policy, then it can't really be using interracial couples as a metric.
It could also serve as a starting point to address racism, he says. Race is one way that humans beings have used to categorize others and lock them into boxes and then project stereotypes about them. The numbers so far are relatively small, he says, and other socio-economic data needs to be taken into account if we really want to start addressing issues of inclusion and inequality.
All of those are far better metrics about how we are doing in terms of addressing racism. With files from Antonia Reed.
Interracial dating in Canada: meet singles who suit you
Where are Canada’s singles? The census found them
But bringing home a Black partner could make them go nuclear. No matter what colour or religion you come from, I think every parent and grandparent wants that. His mother is of Macedonian origin. Ari's parents have yet to visit their home, but the couple are happy to report some warming-up to Joanne.
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