Raising awareness of our diversity: What the TV commercials say about mixed marriages in Canada

As the attached table shows, the approval rate among Millennials (those born after 1986) for all possible combinations of interracial marriages exceeds 96%. Generation X (born 1966 to 1985) and baby boomers (born 1946 to 1965) also have acceptance rates above 92%. Even among the pre-boomers, approval ratings are mostly in the ’80s or’ 90s. Despite loud and ongoing complaints that Canada is a hotbed of racism and prejudice, when it comes to choosing one. a lifelong companion, Canadians of all ages wholeheartedly support color blind love.

A Basic Fact: The Métis experience in western Canada is proof of the high level of tolerance for mixed marriages throughout Canadian history. (Source: University of Saskatchewan Archives, 1883-1916)

Hilbrecht of the Vanier Institute notes that this broad support for mixed marriages may well be considered a fundamental Canadian fact. As proof, she cites the Métis, a group born from the union of white fur traders and Native women. “These marriages were encouraged by indigenous peoples because the fur traders became part of their family network, which supported an economic relationship,” she says. “Indigenous women acted as interpreters and supported their husbands by sharing their knowledge of the land. There was a mutual economic benefit for the whole community. As well as sexual attraction and love, of course.

Fifty years of experience

Norio and Fran Ota have spent the past half a century observing changing attitudes towards mixed marriages. Norio, a Japanese, and Fran, a white woman, were married in April 1971 in Japan, after meeting at a language school where Norio was teaching Japanese to Western missionaries. For Norio, a Métis marriage was the escape from a claustrophobic culture. “I wanted to leave Japan because the whole society was so stuffy,” he says in an interview with his wife. “If I had stayed in Japan for the rest of my life, I would have ended up being one of those washed-out Japanese employees, and I didn’t want to be like that.”

But responding to such desires meant facing many ingrained prejudices. “I dated a Chinese girlfriend from Hong Kong for a long time,” Norio recalls. “But it fell apart because her father told her that if she ever married this ‘Japanese boy’ he would deny her.” After her relationship with former student Fran blossomed, a similar issue arose. “We started to go out and I suggested. But we had a problem with my mother because it was a major shock to her, “he continues.” She had never expected me to marry a white person. “Norio notes that his marriage to Fran was extremely rare at the time, especially since it involved a Japanese and a white woman; in the post-war era, the few interracial couples in Japan typically involved Japanese women and white men.

Five Decades of Watching Things Get Better: Since their marriage in Japan in 1971, Norio Ota and his wife Fran have seen public attitudes towards mixed marriages improve dramatically in Japan and North America.

Today, Norio is a Japanese language professor at York University in Toronto, where he led an award-winning Japanese language program; last month, the Japanese government awarded him the prestigious Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays for his life’s work. Fran has been a pastor of the United Church for 25 years. Together, they gained considerable knowledge of changing social attitudes towards intermarriage in Japan and North America. Beyond their initial struggles in Japan, the two say they have also faced their fair share of strange looks and uncomfortable situations in Canada and the United States. But the couple tend to downplay those issues from the past in order to focus more on improvements over time. “I don’t call these incidents ‘discriminatory incidents’ because I don’t want to link everything to discrimination,” says Norio. “Yes, there is discrimination. But in a multiracial and multicultural society, especially in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver, there are now so many interracial marriages. People are used to seeing or dealing with these couples.

When asked how they perceive the current deluge of mixed marriage announcements, Norio says he appreciates the sentiment. “At least they’re trying to be multiracial,” he says. “But there are a lot of ads that make me want to say, ‘Don’t overdo it.’ Fran has a more mixed point of view, calling them a “performative fantasy,” even more in the United States than in Canada. And yet, it’s a fantasy that, at least in part, reflects the real world. “In my practice as an ordained minister, the number of interracial marriages I have performed has increased over the past 25 years,” says Fran. “I have had a lot of marriages of white Canadian men with Asian women. And even in rural areas, families seem completely open to it. It’s just a natural change in the way the world is moving.

The “Backlash”

While things are clearly improving in Canada and the United States, some observers do not seem ready to let go of their belief in pervasive racism. For these eternally afflicted, nothing can ever improve. Write in Morse last year, Charmaine Nelson, art historian at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and director of the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery, claimed that even the doubling of the percentage of interracial marriages in Canada does not make sense given the supposedly dark history of this country. of slavery. “For a country that claims to celebrate its racial diversity and inclusiveness, living together in a multicultural society does not appear to have resulted in the deepest levels of deep social connection signaled by intimate unions,” she wrote. As for all of that evidence from the TV commercials, she eagerly references the 2013 Cheerios controversy, but makes no mention of the vast changes over the past eight years. It seems that some people only like bad news.

Some people may never be happy: Despite overwhelming evidence regarding the growth and acceptance of interracial marriages in North America, critics such as Charmaine Nelson, art historian at NSCAD University in Halifax (left ), and Jason Johnson, professor of journalism and politics at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland (right), seem perpetually dissatisfied.

Likewise, in the United States, Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, angrily refuted Biden’s previously quoted observations. “I couldn’t see anything other than straight, gay and transgender black love in commercials for the next 30 years and that wouldn’t be enough,” he wrote in the online magazine. The Grio. Claiming to have followed the issue carefully, Johnson says 70 percent of these couples involve black women and white men. (He obviously hasn’t watched a lot of recent Canadian commercials.) What Johnson concludes is, “White America woken up wants to believe it can [copulate] it is (sic) leaving racism, as long as the penis is white. Like Nelson, it seems Johnson will never be convinced that his country is not irreparably racist.

There is also considerable anxiety among small religious populations that intermarriage threatens to erode their carefully protected identity. The Jewish diaspora, for example, closely monitors statistics on intermarriage and frequently comments with concern when those rates rise. Maybe it’s less because of mixed marriages in itself and even more because a Jewish partner frequently abandons his religious practices and / or does not pass them on to children the couple might have.

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