Race & Ethnicity
Perseverance, Passion, Pride
Waneek HornMiller was fighting for Aboriginal land rights during the Oka crisis in 1990.
gained national attention when she was stabbed in the chest by a soldier's bayonet in the final days of the
Introduced initiatives aimed to encourage Aboriginal youth to maintain a healthy balance of athletic and
Indian Act of 1876 created strict rules regarding status and racial mixing; in 1985, it was amended to allow
women who marry nonAboriginals to retain their status.
meaning that should HornMiller marry outside her race, she will lose her status, as will any children she
might have. She responds: “It's a question of identity. We have a fear of disappearing, and I can't deny part
of me feels that way too.”
HornMiller has devoted her life to being an advocate for Aboriginal rights, and while the question of her
status may hang in the balance, she insists she will remain a Mohawk woman: “That's who I am. That can't
be taken away from me
Racial and Ethnic Groups
Firstgeneration immigrants have struggled, facing economic hardships and hostile relations with existing
groups. Those early European immigrants ultimately survived in part because they received assistance
from indigenous peoples, but there was nonetheless antagonism between the groups
intergroup relations based on ethnic and racial background have played a powerful role in shaping both
interaction and opportunity.
One of the factors shaping outcomes was access to valued material, social, and cultural resources, a factor
strongly influenced by the social status of the group to which one belonged. A minority group is a
subordinate group whose members have significantly less control or power over their own lives than the
members of the dominant or majority group have over theirs.
five properties of a minority group (Wagley and Harris 1958): unequal treatment in comparison to members
of a dominant group; distinct physical or cultural traits; ascribed status (also the case for a dominant group
—see Chapter 5); a strong sense of group solidarity; and a tendency toward ingroup marriage (see
discussions of exogamy and endogamy in Chapter 7). The term “minority” can be misleading: it does not
necessarily correspond to actual numbers within the population. That is, even if a group comprises a
numeric majority, they may be a minority group due to their relative lack of power in the society.
1988, Parliament enacted Canada's , which holds the
government responsible for ensuring that members of minority groups have
equal places in Canadian society. Race and ethnicity historically have served as markers of minority group status. The term racial
groupdescribes a group that is set apart from others because of physical differences that have taken on
construct of race emphasizes the significance of external physical differences, it is the culture of a particular
society that identifies and attaches social significance to those differences. Anethnic group is one that
is set apart from others primarily because of its national origin or distinctive cultural patterns
Jews, Polish Canadians, Portugese Canadians
nation comprised primarily of immigrants and their descendants, Canada has a significant amount of racial
and ethnic diversity.
Human Genome Project (HGP), who mapped the entire genetic code, concluded that race as we
understand it does not exist
“Race is a social concept, not a scientific one” (Angier 2000). The researchers found that all humans share
the same basic genetic material, and physical manifestations such as skin colour represent different
combinations, in greater or lesser degrees, of the same shared genes.
genetic variation, the biological differencewithin what we think of as racial groups are actually greater
than the differences between those groups.
point out that people from northeast China are genetically closer to Europeans, Inuit, and North American
Indians than they are to people from south China. In fact, the overall degree of human genetic variation is
quite small when compared with genetic variation among other large mammals—due primarily to the fact
that communities of human beings have always interacted, even across great distances
Social Construction of Race
crossculturally, we see that different groups define racial categories in different ways at different times.
Each society defines which differences are important while ignoring other characteristics that could serve
as a basis for social differentiation.
differences in skin colour have a dramatic social and political meaning while differences in hair colour do
many people in North America tend to lump others rather casually into the traditional categories of “Black,”
“White,” and “Asian,” categories that fail to convey the significant diverwithin each group
r. Brazil has approximately 40 colour groupings, while in other countries people may be described as
“Mestizo Honduran,” “Mulatto Colombian,” or “African Panamanian.”
racial formation—a sociohistorical process in which racial categories are created, inhibited,
transformed, and destroyed. In this process, those who have power define groups of people according to a
racist social structure Canadian government's system of classification reduces the diverse and unique tribes of Aboriginal peoples
into three groups: Indians, Métis, and Inuit. Through thIndian Act , Indians are further differentiated as
Status and NonStatus.
First Nations peoples have their own methods of determining who is a band member, the governmental
criteria—despite being elaborate—are not as inclusive.
American example of racial formation from the 1800s involves what was known as the “onedrop rule.” If a
person had even a single drop of “Black blood”—that is, if any of his or her ancestors, no matter how
remote, were Black—society defined and viewed that person as Black, even if he or she appeared to be
established official standards about who was “Black” and who was “White.”
define a group as a race based in part on physical characteristics, but also on historical, cultural, and
Italian Americans and Irish Americans were seen not as “White” but as members of another race who were
not necessarily trustworthy
Social construction of race is an ongoing process that is subject to debate, especially in a diverse society
such as Canada, where each year increasing numbers of children are born to parents of different racial
Métis did not become an officially recognized Aboriginal group in this country
Differences are socially constructed, their consequences are no less real. Race is often used to justify
unequal access to economic, social, and cultural resources based on the assumption that such inequality is
somehow “natural.” This can happen through the use of stereotypes, for example, which are unreliable
generalizations about all members of a group that do not recognize individual differences within the group.
socially constructed nature of race, suggested that “the very word race ) is racist; that the idea of ‘race,’
implying the existence of significant biologically determined mental differences rendering some populations
inferior to others, is wholly false
almost 13 million people in Canada (slightly more than 41 percent of the population) reported having more
than one ethnic origin
methods of selfidentification may differ from official categories; hence the inclusion of “Other” as an option
on many forms. Racial categories have themselves varied over time, providing additional support for the
notion that our definition of race is not so much determined by biology as it is subject to historical and
reflects the struggle by many individuals, especially young adults, against social pressure to choose a
single identity, and instead openly embrace multiple heritage
ETHNICITY An ethnic group is set apart from others explicitly because of its national origin or cultural patterns.
Distinctive characteristics can include language, diet, sports, and religious beliefs, along with various
traditions, norms, and values.
distinction between racial and ethnic minorities is not always clearcut. As the socially constructed nature of
race becomes clearer, factors such as the significance of national origin and cultural traditions become
more important in our understanding of racial groups
race is constructed makes it no less real in terms of how it shapes our identities, how we have defined it
historically, how we have experienced it individually, and how it has been used politically and economically.
ethnic and racial groups in more detail later in the chapter, it is important to understand the significance
such categories have in society
When it comes to race and ethnicity, the terms that describe such practices
are prejudice and discrimination .
Prejudice and Discrimination
Prejudice is a negative attitude toward an entire category of people, often an ethnic or racial minority.
if you immediately stereotype your roommate on the basis of such characteristics as race, ethnicity, or
religion, that is a form of prejudice. Prejudice tends to perpetuate false definitions of individuals and groups.
prejudice results from ethnocentrism—the tendency to assume that one's own culture and way of life
represent the norm or are superior to all others. Ethnocentric people judge other cultures by the standards
of their own group.
reinforces prejudice is racism—the belief that one race is supreme and all others are innately inferior.
When racism prevails in a society, members of subordinate groups generally experience prejudice,
discrimination, and exploitation. A hate crime is a criminal offence committed because of the offender's
bias against an individual based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual orientation.
Only 40% of hate crime reported; Subjective interpretation is another factor—while individuals may
perceive an incident as motivated by hate, the police must assess on the basis of law. nationwide surveys have consistently shown growing support for integration, interracial dating, and the
election of minority group members to public office—including even the presidency of the United States
skin colour is the biggest barrier to feeling a sense of belonging: the darker one's skin, the greater the
colourblind racism, which uses the principle of race neutrality to perpetuate a racially unequal status
quo, is at work. In such cases, commitment to the principle of equality actually serves to perpetuate
system where inequality based on race and ethnicity is built into the structure of society, unwillingness to
address these issues explicitly in those terms serves to perpetuate the status quo.
nations have established quotas in political representation and hiring to force the social structure to provide
prohibited under Canadian employment equity legislation
Prejudice often leads to discrimination—the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and
groups because of prejudice or other arbitrary reasons.
Prejudice = thinking, discrimination = action
The best candidate for a job is Inuit, however, the boss chooses to hire an inferior White person instead. ▯
Discriminatory Behaviour Prejudiced attitudes should not be equated with discriminatory behaviour. Although the two are generally
related, they are not identical; either condition can be present without the other. A prejudiced person does
not always act on his or her biases
hire the Inuit individual because that person is the most qualified. That would be prejudice without
a completely respectful view of the Inuit might refuse to hire them for executive posts out of fear that biased
clients would take their business elsewhere ▯ discrimination without prejudice
antidiscrimination laws prevent such notices from being published in the newspapers, existing law has not
caught up with online bigotry in hiring and renting
White job applicant with a prison record received slightly more callbacks than a Black applicant with no
The Glass Ceiling: Discrimination persists even for the most educated and qualified minority group
members from the best family backgrounds.
Despite their talent and experience, they sometimes encounter attitudinal or organizational bias that
prevents them from reaching their full potential.
invisible barrier that blocks the promotion of a qualified individual in a work environment because of the
individual's gender, race, or ethnicity
results from the fears and prejudices of many middle and upperlevel White male managers, who believe
that the inclusion of women and minority group men in management circles will threaten their own
prospects for advancement.
Employment Equity Acts 1986, characterized by some as “reverse discrimination,” but it in fact supports
equal employment opportunities for all, not just select groups.
racial profiling, which is any arbitrary action initiated by an authority based on race, ethnicity, or
national origin rather than on a person's behaviour.
Practice is often based on very explicit stereotypes.
Black Canadians have reported being pulled over for DWB—“driving while Black”—particularly when
travelling in expensive cars.
Black & White perceptions of local police ▯ 42 percent of Whites and 14 percent of Blacks
had a “great deal” of confidence, while 31 percent of Blacks and 10 percent of
Whites had “very little” confidence.
Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being “colorblind.” Nobody
racial profiling is most often associated with law enforcement, in recent years health scares have caused
members of particular racial groups to be treated with suspicion.
ARS outbreak, many Asian Canadians came under scrutiny
2011 H1N1, no Mexican laborers allowed Arab and Muslim detainees in the U.S. have also been prosecuted for violations that were routinely ignored
among immigrants of other ethnicities and faiths
PRIVILEGES OF THE DOMINANT
tend to focus more on the difficulty women have balancing career and family than on the ease with which
men avoid household chores and advance in the workplace
White people rarely think about their “Whiteness,” taking their status for granted. However, sociologists and
other social scientists are becoming increasingly interested in what it means to be “White,” for White
privilege is the other side of the proverbial coin of racial discrimination.
Peggy McIntosh (1988) became interested in White privilege after noticing that most men would not
acknowledge the privileges attached to being male—even if they would agree that being female had its
disadvantages. She wondered whether White people suffer from a similar blind spot regarding their own
White person, she rarely needed to step out of her comfort zone, no matter where she went. If she wished
to, she could spend most of her time with people of her own race. She could find a good place to live in a
pleasant neighbourhood, buy the foods she liked to eat from almost any grocery store, and get her hair
styled in almost any salon.
colour opened doors for her. She could cash cheques and use credit cards without suspicion, and she
could browse through stores without being shadowed by security guards.
realized that her Whiteness made the job of parenting easier. She did not need to worry about protecting
her children from people who didn't like them.
admit that others did not constantly evaluate her in racial terms. When she appeared in public, she didn't
need to worry that her clothing or behaviour might reflect poorly on White people. If she was recognized for
an achievement, it was seen as her own accomplishment, not that of an entire race. not all the privileges White people take for granted as a result of their membership in the dominant racial
group in Canada. White job seekers enjoy a tremendous advantage over equally wellqualified—even
betterqualified—Blacks. Whiteness does carry privileges—to a much greater extent than most White
discrimination is practised not only by individuals in onetoone encounters but also by institutions in their
government operations maintain the social significance of race and ethnicity
refers to a pattern of treatment that denies access to resources and opportunities to individuals and groups
as part of the normal operations of a society. This kind of discrimination consistently affects certain racial
and ethnic groups more than others.
Treatment of Aboriginal peoples, most notably the enforced residential schooling of First Nations children
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Under pressure to prevent terrorist takeovers of
commercial airplanes, the U.S. Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act ,
which was intended to strengthen airport screening procedures. The law stipulated that all airport screeners
must be U.S. citizens.
ostensibly neutral institutional standards can have discriminatory effects. An example of this is found in the
leasing of institutional space to student groups that segregate women in worship.
Attempts have been made to eradicate or compensate for discrimination, such as the review of land claims
by First Nations peoples, as well as financial compensation for the abusive treatment they endured in
Charter of Rights and Freedoms has led to the enactment of laws against institutional discrimination.
groups actually benefit from racial and ethnic discrimination in terms of money, status, and influence.
Discrimination permits members of the majority to enhance their wealth, power, and prestige at the expense
Less qualified people get jobs and promotions simply because they are members of the dominant group
Privileges not surrendered easily
Race and Ethnicity in Canada
tatus of the French in Canada (who today comprise roughly onequarter of the country's population) has
been unequal to that of the dominant English population. Although legislation such as the Quebec Act of
1774 , theConstitution Act of 1791 , and theConfederation Act of 1867 recognized the special
status of francophones, they continued to be marginalized. The 1969Official Languages Act brought
visibility to the French minority
WHITE ETHNICS Although Canada is becoming increasingly diverse, a significant segment of the population is made up of
White ethnics whose ancestors arrived from Europe within the last century.
67 percent of Canadians claimed European origins, but it is important to remember that like other groups,
White ethnics are not homogeneous in ancestry or experiences.
Some whites have distinct identities ▯ longestablished ItalianCanadian communities—while others have
largely assimilated into the larger society.
White ethnics today identify only sporadically with their heritage. Symbolic ethnicity refers to an
emphasis on concerns such as ethnic food or political issues rather than on deeper ties to one's ethnic
heritage. It is reflected in the occasional family trip to an ethnic bakery
Doesn’t includes cases where new immigration reinforces old traditions, symbolic ethnicity tends to decline
with each passing generation
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON RACE AND ETHNICITY
dominant majority group benefits from the subordination of minority groups
linked to: amalgamation, assimilation, segregation
dominant majority group has vested interest in maintaining position of power; perpetuates inequality
through economic exploitation
linked to: exploitation, expulsion
gender, race, and class intersect; multiple bases of inequality
linked to: segregation, exploitation
labelling occurs through stereotypes and profiling; however, diverse contacts may foster understanding
linked to: assimilation, expulsion, segregation, pluralism, contact hypothesis
FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES
mid1800s, the Britishbased authorities had abandoned any recognition of the autonomy of the First
Nations peoples; the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 was essentially a policy of assimilation.
forced residential schooling of children
1876 Indian Act brought First Nations peoples under the formal protection (or control) of the federal
continued to pursue treaty rights and the right of selfgovernment, and bring national and international
attention to the discrimination they continue to face.
Aboriginal population being overrepresented in penal institutions, poor households, and certain health
conditions, and underrepresented in higher education and the paid labour force. CANADA’S MOSAIC
more than 200 different ethnic origins (ancestry), with many people reporting more than one.
These are broad racial categories, such as South Asian (which includes East Indian, Pakistani, Punjabi,
and Sri Lankan) and Black (which includes African, Haitian, Jamaican, and Somali).
Asian Canadians comprise a significant proportion of Canada's population. The term “Asian” comprises a
number of distinct groups
1.25 million, South Asians were the largest visible minority group in Canada in 2006, replacing the Chinese
for the first time, who are now the secondlargest visible minority group, with 1.2 million people. Asian
Canadians, particularly the Chinese, have endured considerable discrimination in this country, including
head taxes to discourage immigration to Canada, disenfranchisement, and the Chinese Immigration
Act of 1923
2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended a formal apology for “six decades of malicious measures,
aimed solely at the Chinese, implemented with deliberation by the Canadian state”
Second World War, approximately 22,000 Japanese Canadians were subject to forced relocation from the
west coast into internment camps across the country
Apology in 1988 by Brian Mulroney
Asian Canadians are often held up as a model or ideal minority group, because they have
succeeded economically, socially, and educationally despite past prejudice and discrimination. Taken from
a functionalist perspective, groups who succeed against the odds are tangible evidence that with
perseverance, anyone can get ahead.
conflict theorists rightly note, the success of model minority groups is conveniently high