Mixed-race Canadians: “in-between but ‘leaning’ white”

In collaboration with CUNY sociologist Richard Alba, Jeff recently published a new analysis of the social lives of mixed-race Canadians, entitled “The significance of mixed family backgrounds for mainstream integration in Canada” (Alba and Reitz, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47,4 (2021): 916-933, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2019.1654162 (originally published online 30 Oct 2019).

Previous research had shown that, in the U.S., individuals from mixed majority-minority families generally occupy positions in between whites and minorities but ‘lean’ white in the sense that they behave in ways more similar in key respects to white Americans than to minority ones; those who are partly black are an exception. Using the data from the 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey, Alba and Reitz examined whether the same pattern appears in Canada. They employed multiple indicators of integration – including self-classification as white rather than a visible minority, the perception of encountering discrimination, the choice of a marital partner, and household income – and found that, overall, Canadians from mixed majority-minority backgrounds are also in-between but lean white in some respects. The degree of this lean depends on the minority origin involved and tends to be strongest when the minority parent has an Arab background and weakest when that parent is black; individuals of white and Asian ancestry are intermediate. However, the distance of white–black Canadians from the others is not as extreme as is the case for white–black individuals in the U.S.

This work was completed while Prof. Reitz was Visiting Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center Advanced Research Collaborative in 2018. See also Richard’s related book, The Great Demographic Illusion: Majority, Minority, and the Expanding American Mainstream (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020).

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