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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 05:28 PM

Celebrating interracial marriages, multiculturalism and the mixed-race generation in Toronto

In 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. Itís 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, inter≠racial pairings are growing at a much faster rate than same-race marriages, leading to a new cohort of hyphenated Canadians. Itís 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 motherís and the fatherís culturesóbecause 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 doesnít careóunless itís holiday time, when he reports, enviously, which kids celebrate the greatest number of religious holidays (and therefore score the most Lego sets).

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 arenít 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 ≠otherís global mťlanges and attuned to ethnic variety, in an accepting, cosmopolitan way.


I have always thought that Toronto was a great cosmopolitan city. This reminds me of why that is true. I imagine this kind of thing drives the republican base crazy.

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Reply Celebrating interracial marriages, multiculturalism and the mixed-race generation in Toronto (Original post)
pampango Feb 2013 OP
longship Feb 2013 #1
TlalocW Feb 2013 #2
DreamGypsy Feb 2013 #3

Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 06:22 PM

1. I love Toronto!

My last visit was a few years ago, but in the late 60's and early 70's I would visit often, a day trip from my native Detroit.

The main difference now is that Canada can be a pricey place. But Toronto is still a beautiful, sprawling urban center. And yes, the cultural diversity is part of what makes it such a wonderful place to visit.

"Can I buy ya a beer, eh?"

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 07:42 PM

2. I prefer to think of America as more of a salad

Separate and distinguishable parts creating something bigger and better than its individual pieces.

Also, I'm hungry, and I want a salad.


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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:04 PM

3. Get Mixed Up!

Yes, Toronto is a wonderful city.

Toronto singer/songwriter Steven Fearing tells a little anecdote about his experience when he moved to Toronto from Vancouver:
"The difference between Vancouver and Toronto is, when you're in Vancouver and you run into a stranger they say 'Have a Nice Day.' and what they really mean is 'Fuck You'. And when you're in Toronto, they say 'Fuck You' and what they mean is 'Have a Nice Day'. That's like New York and L.A."

...but back to the topic of mixed-race or mixed-nationality marriages, one of the best tributes to the notions of "each ≠otherís global mťlanges ... ethnic variety ... in an accepting, cosmopolitan way" is Pete Seeger's song "All Mixed Up":

There were no red-headed Irishmen
before the Vikings landed in Ireland
How many Romans had dark curly hair
before they brought slaves from Africa?
No race of man is completely pure,
nor is anyone's mind, that's for sure
The winds mix the dust of every land,
and so will woman and man.

This doesn't mean we will all be the same,
We'll have different faces and different names
Long live many different kinds of races
It's difference of opinion that makes horse races
Just remember the rule about rules, brother
What could be right for one could be wrong for the other
And take a tip from La Belle France: "Viva la difference!"

Pete performs the song at a tribute to Studs Terkel:

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