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Editor’s Letter (March 2013): interracial marriages, multiculturalism and the mixed-race generation

Sarah FulfordIn grade school, I was taught that Canada embraces multiculturalism, whereas the United States is a melting pot. The notion was drilled into me year after year: we celebrate our diversity and encourage the preservation of our ethnic heritage, whereas Americans assimilate. Boy, were my teachers wrong. Toronto is a melting pot if ever there was one. It’s true that this city hosts dozens of ethnic festivals every year, and that we like to trumpet our cultural differences, but we also assimilate within a couple of generations.

According to the 2006 census, inter­racial pairings are growing at a much faster rate than same-race marriages, leading to a new cohort of hyphenated Canadians. It’s a phenomenon I witness all around me. Friends of mine in their childbearing years struggle to come up with names for their babies that work in both the mother’s and the father’s cultures—because so often those cultures originate at opposite ends of the globe. They want to give their kids names that fit into the little segment that overlaps on the Venn diagram of their respective backgrounds: Japanese-Jewish. Dutch-Jamaican. Chinese-Norwegian. Iranian-German. Hence some unusual Facebook birth announcements: Boaz, Asher, Raya, Lev, Emine.

My seven-year-old son, who is growing up among kids from all over the world, assumes everyone is half something or a quarter something and largely doesn’t care—unless it’s holiday time, when he reports, enviously, which kids celebrate the greatest number of religious holidays (and therefore score the most Lego sets).

Our cover story, about mixed-race Toronto (“Mixie Me,” page 34), is written by Nicholas Hune-Brown, one of Toronto Life’s award-winning writers. Regular readers might remember, among other stories, his portrait of Toronto’s pot café culture back in 2009, or his artful 2010 examination of the shortened lives of the Toronto Zoo’s elephants, or, most recently, his poignant feature on a family’s fight to keep their father on life ­support at Sunnybrook hospital. Hune-Brown, who is 30 years old and was born in Toronto to a Chinese mother and a British father, says he has witnessed a seismic change in the city where race is concerned. When he was attending ­elementary school in down­town Toronto, he was the only mixed-race kid in his grade. What a difference 20 years makes.

Now, in the wake of several new studies about the proliferation of mixed-race kids in North America, Hune-Brown tries to figure out what it means to be biracial, or for that matter multiracial, in Toronto in 2013. His conclusion is fascinating. Turns out we aren’t colour-blind, contrary to the fantasy of romantic liberal-minded people everywhere, and we may never be. Instead, when Toronto is at its best, we are aware of each ­other’s global mélanges and attuned to ethnic variety, in an accepting, cosmopolitan way.

Perhaps my social studies teachers weren’t so off-base. Children who grew up under the banner of the country’s multicultural policies, with languages and ethnicity enthusiastically protected, have fallen in love and procreated. The result? A new generation of kids with strong cultural ties—to more than one culture. It’s a multicultural melting pot. In other words, Toronto.

(Image: Christopher Wahl)

  • Pure

    Disgusting. How could they throw away their race.

  • Rag Narok

    Operation: Gobal White Genocide progresses well.

    *Rubs hands together*

  • Sam Norte

    Toronto, is now full of mutants.

  • Toms18

    So, in other words, you applaud the fact that this will lead to the ethnic cleansing and genocide of whites in Toronto, and eventually Canada? Because its whites who you of course are suggesting should race-mix themselves into destruction, right? I really, really do not understand white people like you who seem to want your own racial and ethnic group to be made a minority and eventually replaced in the nation your ancestors built. I marvel at the level of brainwashing you have received Incredible.

  • sadmkasd asdsadf

    I can’t believe the dumb goy really believe it!

  • Vic

    There is no such thing as “mixed race”. You aren’t “mix” a social construct. People are either white or non white. The rest is for divide and conquer purposes. We’ll never learn…

  • SirWanker

    Correction Vic….you’ll never learn

  • Onthe sidelines

    The lady who does alterations for our family does a booming trade in wedding dresses. While visiting her last year I noticed an entire wall of thank you notes from grateful (and polite) brides with photos of the happy couple. There was not an ethnically/racially matched set of anything – Asian marrying Jewish, Black marrying red-head, South Asian marrying Mediterranean. I joked to the other blonde, blue-eyed, middle aged woman who was also looking at the photos – “Have you noticed that no one looks like us any more?”. “Yup this is what Toronto looks like now” she said with a laugh. And then my own ‘mixed’, dark-haired, olive-skinned daughter appeared in the door and it was clear to all that never were truer words spoken. It’s about time too!

  • Liz

    This is an egocentric and ignorant point of view. “Unusual names” to you may not be unusual to others. “Asher” is a hebrew name.

    There has always been a mix, but they are usually white. Ask where a white Canadian is from and the usual answer is, “oh a mix of a bunch of things from Europe.” It’s ignorant to judge people just when they are a visual mix of ethnicities, but yet when they are a mix of white, we take that as being “normal.” Phrases like, “They want to give their kids names that fit into the little segment that
    overlaps on the Venn diagram of their respective backgrounds” trivialises people who want to bring some past into the present. Interesting how when people want to name their kid “Stephen” because their parent was English, or from their grandmother isn’t taken into account.

  • Gary Jenkins

    The media is definitely trying to push “race mixing” especially with White males
    + non-White females.

    Is it not a stretch than to assume that race also matters in the creation of a culture and civilization? Can Chinaman ever really be a Northern European? A race brings it’s culture with them in their blood, and it is clear now that other races will not embody the principles of our white European Culture, but will bend it to their will, and the spineless liberals will abide.

    It’s obvious Whites build the most desirable societies. When Whites become a minority in their own nations, will those nations still be as desirable?

    People of other races are no different. Most black people want black children and Asians want Asian children. When people imagine what it would be like to be a parent they imagine children who look like them.

    “They are even more right than they realize. Frank Salter explains in his brilliant, unsung classic, On Genetic Interests, that if you have children with someone who is genetically very distant, you may be genetically closer to strangers of your own ethnic group than to your own children. Mr. Salter’s example is of an Englishman who mates with a Bantu; he would be genetically closer to any other Englishmen than he would be to his own mixed-race children.”

    Not to mention the fact that mixed-race marriages have higher divorce rates, and the children have a whole new array of sicknesses ex. skin diseases, higher rates of depression, alcoholism, bone marrow transplant problems etc.

    Also, in racially diverse societies, people trust others less, including those of other races, and are less willing to give to charity (Professor Putnam, Bowling Alone)

    One wonders, why are White Liberals the only group of people on the planet that see diversity as a strength, and are celebrating themselves becoming a minority in their own nations.

  • sandifjm

    This is poorly written nonsense, dressed up in the trappings of pseudo-science. It’s comforting to know that in a few short generations, most of the people who believe even any of this, will be long dead.

  • Gary Jenkins

    Study history. People are tribal. Birds of a feather flock together. Canada is becoming a nation of nations.

    Great nations are born and maintained through healthy immigration. They die through wrong immigration.Diversity = division. The racial diversity experiment has failed.

    Funny how White Liberals rave on about multiculturalism, yet refuse to move into a Black only neighborhood to enrich their lives.

    Race is more than skin color, why pretend it’s not?

  • Gary Jenkins

    Including the White Liberals who will suddenly realise that Whites are being slowly cleansed in their own nations due to low birth rates, and a failure to understand that non-Whites see Whites as competitors.
    Methinks White compassion and tolerance (which other races have less of) is slowly coming to an end.

  • orbis

    And the decline of the country will follow that trend.

  • orbis

    It shouldn’t be comforting at all because it won’t be true. I think idiots like you were saying the same thing in the 60s, at least in the US.

  • sandifjm

    All of the bile you’re spewing, along with the name calling is merely your backwards way of acknowledging that you have lost. The world is changing, and all of the paranoid ranting you can muster won’t turn back the clock. You’re on the wrong side of history, and it’s absolutely killing you. Enjoy your defeat you clown.

  • Elizabeth

    I am a reader from London. I like the term multicultural melting pot! Toronto seems like an interesting place indeed. I sense a tone of resentment from some of the white participants of this conversation. I would just like to say that we have one world and one human race. The division of the people on ‘racialised’ grounds is being eroded due to globalisation and I believe that is a good thing. Change has to come!

  • TAD

    So in this way things get really cool, and my kids can say they’re part WASP, part Huguenot, part German probably, one quarter Lithuanian, and half Indian (and Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim in origin as well!). The New World has always a melting pot, and that’s just great. It has the potential to let us get away from the stupid prejudices that pit this group against that one, in places where few have moved more than some tens of kilometers from their birthplace. Pride of place is great if you’re born into it, but it should not keep you from experiencing all that is good and can be found anywhere in the world.

  • Gibbering Madness

    Yes, thank god, it is about time. It will be so refreshing when blonde hair and blue eyes, are eradicated from the world. Redheads and green eyes have to go as well. Then we can all revel in diversity as a monotone brown race with black hair and brown eyes. Hands will be held across the world, and kum bah ya will be sang in a single resonate voice. It brings a tear to me eye to look forward to such a future, one so very bright and full of hope.

  • yorkshireterrier

    Sure it makes you happy. It means more brown, less white — i.e. more of you, less of us. We can’t help but like ourselves, even if it is illegal and the worst crime imaginable. For that reason, we don’t particularly like the notion of virtual extinction.

  • yorkshireterrier

    I hate Toronto Life and its constant neo-liberal attacks on everything that is white. Good thing nobody reads it though.