When does one stop being ‘ethnic’? When one is no longer an object of “mainstream” fear?

The Toronto Star has warned Canadians about ‘ethnic enclaves’ and ‘the isolation effect’

As Siddiqui points out “The study identifies Canada’s visible minority neighbourhoods, i.e., those with more than 30 per cent of the population from a non-white ethnic group. Such communities had jumped from six in 1981 to 254 in 2001, the year of the last census. About two-thirds were Chinese.”

Since when has “ethnic” just become a synonym for non-white “visible minorities”? Why aren’t there similar studies showing the residential concentrations of white Italian Canadians? White French Canadians? White English Canadians?

Reporters, sociologists and statisticians seem obsessed with non-white “races” but scared to use the term “race”. Thus, “ethnic group” emerges as a term to lump diverse ethnic groups into racialized labels. Why can’t the Toronto Star and StatsCan understand that there are various ethnic groups within the “Black community” and the “South Asian” community? Why can’t it challenge letters that assume that those who are “like us, who understand us, who share things in common with us, with whom we don’t constantly have to explain” are “people who look like us”?

I’d like to see the Toronto Star investigate “experts” who isolate themselves from the wealth of knowledge created by researchers such as George Lipsitz, Assia Djebar and bell hooks. Many courageous women and men have outlined white privilege and the limitations of quasi-colonial projects to place “Others” into neat camps. It seems a shame for the Toronto Star to ignore them. It seems even more dangerous that it considers its paper to be progressive when it feeds the fears of folks who confuse “stranger citizens” with people who are not white.

For more on the immigration “debate” in Canada and the UK see:
Richard Gwyn on difference and Canadian identity/ies

Discomfort of Strangers

The Joy of diversity

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