Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘ethnicity’

Immigration and Education based on TDSB stats

Posted by chinesecanuck on February 28, 2009

The Toronto District School Board just released stats on elementary (kindergarten to Grade 6) students based on their background (ethnic and socio-economic) in hopes that kids who’re most in need.  Questions asked included the family’s ethnicity (both the child’s and his/her parents), family education level, expectations of the child, income, etc…and results of each question was shown on a chart.  While some of the questions were typical, there was one that bothered me, one which asked whether the parent(s) were born in Canada or not.  What bothered me wasn’t the question itself, but it didn’t seem to ask WHEN the parent came.  It makes a BIG difference.  I know several people who were born abroad, but came to Canada as elementary school aged kids.  Since they were so young, they learned English relatively quickly and sound no different than anyone born and raised here.  Unlike 2009, young immigrants (as in elementary school aged)  and non-English speaking Canadian born children were able to learn English at a much quicker pace in the 70s and 80s than today, since they were less likely to live in areas with larger populations of people who speak other languages.   But anyway…

The results weren’t surprising.  Children from lower income families and/or from families of certain ethnicities did poorer in school than others.    While parents  all had high expectations of their children, many more children did not meet the provincial standard in tests.  Other interesting points:  White families seemed to value sports more than non-white parents.  73% of kids with white parents participated in sports outside of school, while East Asians parents were more likely to send their children to arts-related activities (48%) than other groups.   South Asians and blacks were more likely to participate in religiously related activities at 45% and 44% respectively.  And while Asian students tend to do well, their parents are much less likely to participate in parent-teacher interviews.  Perhaps it culturally related – in many cultures, parents only see teachers if their child is in trouble.  I realize the results sound somewhat stereotypical, but that’s what was sent in.  What do you think?

Posted in education | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Media and Immigrant/Second Gen Stories

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 8, 2008

It’s too bad that the media rarely talk about people like me. I think the world needs to read more about non-white immigrant/second gen people who just aren’t that “old country.” Whenever I read stories about immigrants, especially non-white immigrants in newspapers or blogs, it’s always about immigrants being marginalized, with the lack of resources to services, etc, etc…So where are the stories about people like me? Where are the stories about upper middle class Chinese Canadians? I don’t think we’re that small a group. And I also don’t want to read about crazy culture clashes between the immigrant parents and western-raised kids, either. That’s soooooo over done. I just want to see pieces, fiction or non-fiction about NORMAL suburban families.

As a kid, I never felt that I was marginalized. In fact, to this day, I’ve experienced more issues with more traditional immigrant/second gen+ people (other than people from the HK Chinese community) than people who’ve been in Canada since the Upper Canada Rebellion! This is something I’d love to hear about in media. Discrimination between immigrant groups. I’d also love to hear people talk about rates of integration with “mainstream culture” and how some immigrant groups find it odd that other groups adopt “white/Anglo” culture. I can’t tell you how many times non-HK second gen Canadians have criticized me for being “too Canadian.” I’ve been criticized by HKers too, but it isn’t as bad. HKers think “Oh, it’s because ChineseCanuck was born/raised in Canada,” while other immigrant/second gen Canadians act as if what I do is disgusting. With WASPs, it’s only an issue when ethnicity is brought in the picture, not everyday life.

My question to the media is this: Are people like me not worth talking about? If so, why? I guess I won’t receive an answer, because you guys don’t read blogs like this…or don’t care.

Posted in Asian, assimilation, ethnicity, media | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Quebec Schools Required to Mark Non-Christian Holidays

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 2, 2008

And this goes for private schools too, according to the Globe and Mail.  I’m a little confused about the article.  Do the students have to take these days off?  I hope not, as won’t be that many days left for instruction!  And why is it an issue to teach other religions in a (say) Catholic school?  I went to an Anglican school with chapel, and sat through presentations on Islam and Judaism.  It’s great to get some exposure to other cultures.  However, at the same time, I worry that teachers aren’t trained properly enough to teach other religions/cultures.  Those not properly trained will make people of non-majority cultures feel more “other” than they already are.  This is especially the case for non-majority cultures who are assimilated.  People, even those who know you quite well, will start assuming that your culture is one way and will avoid doing some things around you because of what they were taught.  Take, for example, baby showers.  This is not done in many cultures (including Chinese culture) because of all the risks associated with childbirth.  But someone born and raised in North America may want one.  Heck, even immigrant women may want one!  Apparently, my mom’s work friends threw her a baby shower before I was born.  However, that was 1979, before all those sensitivity seminars were brought into the workplace.  I highly doubt that something like that would be done today, even outside work hours.  People are trained to believe that some cultures just don’t find them appropriate and may even be insulted.  Even the article has mentioned something that could be considered a faux pas in my book.  The curriculum mentions that “while most Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, Jews mark the autumn harvest with Sukkot.”  I know Jewish people who do Thanksgiving.  Sukkot.  I know Jews who do Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is NOT a religious holiday in Canada.  That’s why I feel badly for the non-Catholic students at Loyola (school mentioned in the article).   But is not teaching it better than teaching it?  If Loyola doesn’t have many non-Catholic students, then kids there may not be exposed to other religions all that much.  Wouldn’t it make sense to teach about other religions?  However, at the same time, private religious schools shouldn’t have to teach things they don’t believe in.

What do you think about this?  Do you think Loyola is going too far by considering legal action?

Posted in assimilation, culture, education, ethnicity, religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

All non-black non-whites are “brown”?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 20, 2008

Racialicious has GOT to be the first blog where all non-whites who aren’t black are referred to as “brown” (at least by some posters.  I can’t for the life of me see how anyone who is say, Chinese or Japanese can possibly be brown, unless one is referring to eye colour (or hair highlights) or to someone who has spent too much time in the tanning salon.  Tan or taupe I can understand, but brown, proper?  I don’t think so.  Unless, of course, you’re into the whole colour group thing.  However, most people think of brown as being something much darker than tan or taupe.  Calling these people brown is beyond racist.

Posted in Asian, culture, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Ethnic Blogs – Why some bug me (yet I still like reading them)

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 13, 2008

Many ethnic/race blog I’ve been to seem to have a very liberal/PC and American point of view.  If you olay a devil’s advocate and say that some groups do things one way because of ABC, you’re hounded.  It’s my way or the highway, and they never look at any other point of view, even if it is constructive.  It’s as if posters are members of some sort of clique.  It’s like high school!  All because sometimes, my ideas can be really different. I’ve even been called stupid by some people (you know who you are!) because I’ve pointed out that some countries consider term A PC while other countries prefer Term B (and find Term A un-PC…think Asian vs Oriental).  This is especially the case if the topic is on beauty.  I’m trying to avoid these topics now, because I’m a little tired of people going on and on about how colonialism was the most major influence on beauty standards in say, Asia – especially when it comes to ideal skin colour.  They seem to ignore the fact that fair skin has always been the standard.  They sometimes even go on and on about embracing the “traditional look” – as if the “traditional look” was ever “ideal.”  But this isn’t the only thing that bothers me.  Religion is another.  I have had people ask me why I’m Catholic.  Why I don’t just “embrace” eastern faiths because Catholicism is a religion resulting from missionaries coming in to “convert the heathens of China.”  My family has been Catholic for four generations.  I don’t see myself any other way.  I am comfortable being a lapsed Catholic.  I can’t see myself converting to any eastern faith.  Not at all.

What upsets me the most are the so-called “white liberals” (actually they aren’t always white.  Just people who are ignorant about other cultures..sometimes even people who are of MY CULTURE or similar cultures, but haven’t been too internationally exposed) who seem to want to erase the past.  Or if they don’t, they want to embrace something that they’re not (this is usually where the not-too-internationally-exposed non-white people come in)  Um, did anyone ever ask you?  What if something is so ingrained that reverting back to the so-called “traditional style” just isn’t realistic, and perhaps even mocked if one ever decides to go back to said tradition?  It’s sort of telling us that your culture/way is better and that we shouldn’t be practicing.  It’s also putting us in neat little boxes/areas.  Kind of like a supermarket or department store.  Again, these people are trying to put their beliefs into others, sometimes to the point of giving readers migraines.

So some of these blogs bug me.  If they do that, why do I read them?  Because I want to let people know that their way isn’t the only way.  I often point out that their way of thinking, and telling people that their way is the only PC way is kind of like colonialism.  In many countries, entire cultures were changed because foreigners came in and told them what to do.  When they resisted, they were killed.  It is no different in the blog world.  If ethnic blogs believe that colonialism/history of slavery/etc was wrong, then they really shouldn’t be telling people what to do and what to say.

Posted in Asian, colonialism, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Interracial Dating: Fetish from the woman’s side?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 8, 2008

Ethnic/race sites like Racialicious often talk about IRR (Interracial Relationships) and fetish. Almost always, the posts deal with fetish from men. It’s almost as if, especially when dealing with Asian Female/White Male relationships, only the guy could ever have fetish. What about the women? Aren’t the women fetishing something too? And it isn’t necessarily perceived ideal beauty, but maybe a lifestyle? Growing up, many immigrant kids watch television, read books, etc and dream of that “perfect,” what we now call “Martha Stewart” life. They want the perfect place settings, the perfect kitchen, the perfect house. It’s not that you can’t have those if you marry an Asian guy, but it’s more of the image. With an Asian guy, you may still be expected to do Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner the Chinese way – that is if you grew up doing it at all – you know, a turkey marinated in soy sauce and stuffed with sticky rice (some people don’t like it – I do), bok choy , etc. Or they don’t want to be criticized by a prospective MIL because she feels that they aren’t “fill-in-the-blank-culture enough” (can happen…moms seem to have higher expectations of Asianness when their kids’ significant others are of the same ethnicity). Perhaps the “fetish,” isn’t physical (at least from the woman’s side), but a lifestyle. Of course, this lifestyle really only exists in the pages of Martha Stewart Living and at displays at Williams-Sonoma, but a girl can want to make it as close to that as possible. Trust me, if I lived on my own, I would (and I don’t think I need a guy to do it). However, I don’t think I can with my parents around, for various reasons.

Of course, that kind of lifestyle also comes with a bit of preppiness. True preppiness is mostly white, in my experience. There are preppy Asian guys, but they’re usually first generation preppy (I really don’t get the unattractive factor here. No Asian guy I know is completely unattractive/geeky/insert Asian stereotype. Some are even high maintenance/metro!) True preps aren’t too brandwhorish or materialistic. They like the good life. They also like to look well-groomed, but it’s not all about displaying labels. That’s not hot, after all. Sadly, many first gen preppies have parents who are the complete opposite. It’s about getting the luxury car, wearing and displaying the logos and so forth. Sure, I’m generalizing here, but it happens. Second, third gen preppies and beyond are more subdued. Perhaps some women want that.

It’s interesting that the typical male Asiaphile does not fall into this ideal. Most Asiaphiles are unattractive nerds or middle age, overweight men. These guys, at least in the extreme, are more likely to want the opposite of what the woman mentioned above wants. They want a more Asian lifestyle. Perhaps that’s why they prefer foreign women. They’re easier to mold and not to mention, they probably see these guys as arm candy as well (even if they don’t LOOK LIKE arm candy -heh). These women probably don’t want the Martha Stewart lifestyle, at least not the way a North American raised Asian woman sees it. They may want that “ideal American life” but probably won’t go into details such as place settings, food, social stationary and the like, especially if they’re from a developing country.

Of course, I’m probably generalizing, especially with foreign Asian women. I’m not foreign, so what am I supposed to know? In addition, many people would probably disagree with me, especially when it comes to the western-raised Asian and her wanting the “ideal lifestyle.” But it’s something that is rarely discussed in ethnic message boards regarding IRRs. Maybe it’s time for that to change. After all, a lifestyle can be a fetish too.

Posted in Asian, culture, ethnicity, interracial, interracial relationships, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Being Cultured

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 28, 2008

This is pretty much part two of my earlier post on stereotypes.  Many people feel that it’s necessary to avoid certain works because they contain characters, storylines, etc which are no longer considered politically correct.  My question to them is this: What the heck are we supposed to read/watch/listen to?  Are we going to have to avoid everything created before the 1970s?  How the heck are we even supposed to be “cultured” if we do that?  Do we not give a child piano lessons because most of the composers were Christian and wrote music for the church?  Do we homeschool the kid because they’re going to be reading works by writers from the past, whose works will, in the eyes of someone in the twenty-first century, not be PC?  Why keep kids away from them when you can discuss why it’s wrong?

Honestly, people who believe these things bother me.  It’s a form of censorship, IMHO.  Keeping a kid in the dark is no better than sanctioning such behaviour.  In high school, I read a novel for English class called The Wars.  This Timothy Findley book is about a young Canadian man who fights in WWI.  The novel is very graphic, especially towards the end.  Yet, it was part of the English curriculum at my high school, an all girls’ independent school.  You’d think that the English department would prefer us reading books which are “cleaner.”  However, the English department wanted us to broaden our horizons.  Many of the books we read were not exactly appropriate for teenage girls.  In fact, some were even banned in schools at one point (Cather in the Rye, for example).  So you don’t want your kid exposed to stereotypes.  However, as I said in the earlier post, everything CAN BE A STEREOTYPE.  Or are some stereotypes just “better” than others? 

IMHO, people who ban certain material from others because they feel that it would negatively affect their outlook on a culture (or cultures) or because they feel that it’s racist/stereotypical are just not exposed enough.  They aren’t cultured enough and/or fail to understand that there’s more than one interpretation.  And to me, it is really sad.  To deny another person exposure to something because one only sees something ONE WAY is denying someone the ability to express how they feel.  It’s denying the person a learning opportunity to discuss why something is wrong/inappropriate.  It’s denying someone AN EDUCATION.

Posted in culture, education, ethnicity, learning, literature, minorities, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Passing on Traditions and Keeping in Touch with One’s Roots

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 9, 2008

Matthew Egan has a post in Racialicious today about his Jewish identity. At the end of the post, mentions a conversation his fiancée had with another woman, who grew up in Chinatown about understanding one’s roots. But what does that mean in the twenty-first century? Culture changes so rapidly that many traditions become obsolete. Other traditions were invented or adapted by immigrants when they arrive in their new homeland.

I often read stories about ABCs or CBCs (American Born Chinese or Canadian Born Chinese) who are conflicted between tradition and their Americanized/Canadianized identity they picked up at school. Reading these stories, I’ve always wondered WTF they’re talking about. I went to school with lots of kids who were either born in Canada or came as young children, and never have I met a parent who wasn’t accommodating to their kids’ westernized lifestyle, save for dating non-Chinese. In fact, most parents are westernized themselves. Most people I know don’t know what it means to have “traditional Chinese parents.” Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Most American/Canadian authors of Chinese descent are from an older generation, typically Baby Boomers (e.g. Amy Tan) or born during the Depression/WWII (e.g. Wayson Choy). They typically grew up in Chinatown or a small town, with parents who worked in small businesses rather than suburban-raised kids with middle-management/professional parents.

I share the same issues as Matthew when it comes to understanding my roots. Because my upbringing was “typically suburban,” and the guy I’ll likely marry isn’t of Chinese descent, I worry that I’d be criticized that I’m not able to pass on Chinese culture beyond language (speaking only), food, holidays like the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival and perhaps one or two milestone traditions, such as a baby’s coming out/presentation at 30 days or wedding traditions (many aren’t “real traditions” as they probably only date back to the 1910s or 1920s at the earliest when people started to have love marriages rather than arranged ones).  Or would people care?  Is that really enough to pass on?  In Toronto, one can be exposed to these traditions without doing much.  All you need to do is open a newspaper.  The Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival get lots of press in a city like Toronto or Vancouver, even with non-Asian media.  Is passing on these traditions really keeping in touch with one’s roots, or is it just part of being a cultured Torontonian?

Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

I look mixed? WTF?

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 8, 2008

I had my nails done at a salon I don’t normally go to this past weekend.  Practically all of the employees at this nail salon were Vietnamese, with one lady who was Vietnamese of Chinese descent.  Like me, this woman spoke fluent Cantonese, sans regional accent.  However, I knew that she wasn’t Hong Konger based on the WAY she spoke it.  It wasn’t an accent, but the way her voice sounded.  In any case, she later commented on how I looked “half Chinese, half ‘Canadian.'”  In immigrant Asian lingo, “Canadian” means white (in any case, “Canadian” could mean any ethnicity at all, she would have just said that I “looked” Canadian).  I do not look mixed.  I kind of figured that the only reason why she may have thought that is because I’m like a head taller than her (which means that this woman is super-petite, as I’m only 5’2″…probably slightly below average for Hong Kong Chinese women in my age group).

Why would someone say that another person looks “mixed” when the person clearly isn’t?

Posted in Asian, culture, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Cultural Benefits & Knowing Where You Come From

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 30, 2008

A posting from Racialicious today comes from a white woman who, like many white people, wonder why black people can have BET, the United Negro College Fund, etc, while white people can’t. The answer (besides the whole power structure thing)? White people (and many non-whites) are more likely to know their ancestry. There are scholarships and other programs that gear towards specific ancestries (some universities, for example, may offer a bursary or scholarship to people who are of, say, Swedish or German heritage) as well as television channels for specific languages. There are even festivals that celebrate certain cultures. Have people forgotten about that? If you want to celebrate your heritage, maybe you can do some research to find out where your ancestors come from. Then, find out what the culture’s (or cultures’) traditions are. In many parts of Europe, including Sweden and Denmark, people celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13. There’s also Sinterklass, celebrated by kids in the Netherlands and Belgium, in early December (I know, I’m kind of in a Christmas/December mood right now). These, along with other traditions that pertain to weddings, births, etc, can be incorporated into one’s routine. It may take a bit of work, but I think it’s worthwhile. Oh, and don’t forget to share these holidays and celebrations with people outside your culture!  🙂

(Asians and hispanics have a designated heritage month, but in most cities, it isn’t as big a deal as cultural festivals pertaining to one country. For example, I hear much, much more about the Mid-Autumn Festival or Diwali than Asian Heritage Month. Asian Heritage Month is a mere mention. Most Asian heritage related charity events (in Toronto, the big one would be the Dragon Ball) are NOT held in May or Asian Heritage Month.)

Posted in celebrating, culture, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »