February 21, 2004

The Language of Visible Minorities

My Japanese (born, raised, and still citizen) wife and I have noticed that visible minorities in Canada often get tagged with an un-hyphenated label, no matter how many generations they've been here.

"My broker is Chinese." "My real estate agent is Filipino." "My hairdresser is East Indian."

I grew up being taught to be proud to be "Ukrainian-Canadian" and though I haven't identified myself much with that community for years, I find this strange.

Why don't visible minorities at least get the hyphen? "My dentist is Chinese-Canadian." Nope, it's: "My dentist is Chinese," even if his great-grandfather helped push the railroad through the Rockies over a hundred years ago, well before my Ukrainian ancestors arrived in Canada.

My wife and I have never said, "Our real estate agent is English." It's never crossed our minds to say, "We dealt with an Irish woman at the bank when we got our mortgage."

So what gives? I thought we were multicultural and colour-blind.

I've got a lot more thinking to do about this, and so do many other people I've encountered....

Posted by Paul at February 21, 2004 08:53 PM