Tv commercials

Advertising for our diversity: What TV ads say about intermarriage in Canada

As the accompanying chart shows, the approval rating among Millennials (those born after 1986) for all possible combinations of interracial marriages exceeds 96%. Gen Xers (born 1966-1985) and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965) also have acceptance rates above 92%. Even among pre-boomers, approval ratings are mostly in the 80s or 90s. Despite persistent loud complaints that Canada is a hotbed of racism and prejudice, when it comes to choosing a mate of life, Canadians of all ages wholeheartedly support colorblind love.

A fundamental fact: The Métis experience in Western Canada is evidence of the high degree of tolerance shown towards intermarriage throughout Canadian history. (Source: University of Saskatchewan Archives, 1883-1916)

Hilbrecht of the Vanier Institute notes that this widespread support for intermarriage could well be seen as a fundamental Canadian fact. As proof, she cites the Métis, a group born of the union of white fur traders and Aboriginal 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 served as interpreters and supported their husbands by sharing their knowledge of the land. There was a reciprocal 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-century observing changing attitudes toward intermarriage. Norio, a Japanese man, 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, an intermarriage was the way to escape a claustrophobic culture. “I wanted to leave Japan because the whole society was really suffocating,” he said 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-up Japanese workers, 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 recalled. “But that fell apart because her father told her that if she ever married that ‘Japanese boy,’ he would disown her.” After her relationship with former student Fran blossomed, a similar problem arose. “We started dating and I proposed. But we had a problem with my mother, because it was a big shock for her,” he continues. “She didn’t expect 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 man and a white woman; in the post-war period, the few interracial couples in Japan usually involved Japanese women and white men.

Five decades of watching things improve: Since getting married in Japan in 1971, Norio Ota and his wife Fran have seen public attitudes towards intermarriage improve dramatically in Japan and North America.

Today, Norio is a professor of Japanese language at York University in Toronto, where he led an award-winning Japanese language program. last month he was awarded the prestigious Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays by the Japanese government for his life’s work. Fran has been a United Church minister for 25 years. Together they gained considerable insight into the changing social attitudes towards intermarriage in Japan and North America. Beyond their initial struggles in Japan, the two say they’ve faced their share of weird looks and uncomfortable situations in Canada and the United States as well. But the couple tend to downplay these past issues in order to focus more on improvements over time. “I don’t call these incidents ‘discriminatory incidents’ because I don’t want to tie everything to discrimination,” says Norio. “Yes, discrimination exists. 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 intermarriage announcements, Norio says he appreciates the sentiment. “At least they try to be multiracial,” he says. “But a lot of ads make me want to say, ‘Don’t overdo it’.” Fran has a more mixed view, calling them “performative fantasy”, if more in the US than in Canada. And yet, it’s a fantasy that, at least in part, mirrors 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,” Fran says. “I’ve done a lot of marriages between white Canadian men and Asian women. And even in rural areas, families seem completely open to this. It’s just a natural change in the way the world evolves.

The “backlash”

While things are clearly looking up in Canada and the United States, some observers seem unwilling to let go of their belief in pervasive racism. For these eternal sorrows, nothing can ever improve. write in Morse Last yearCharmaine Nelson, art historian at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and director of the Institute for the Study of Slavery in Canada, argued that even doubling the percentage of interracial marriages in Canada makes no sense given that country’s supposedly dark history of slavery. “For a country that claims to celebrate its racial diversity and inclusion, 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 that evidence from TV commercials, it eagerly references the 2013 Cheerios controversy, but makes no mention of the vast changes that have taken place 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 like Charmaine Nelson, art historian at NSCAD University in Halifax (at left), and Jason Johnson, professor of journalism and politics at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland (right), seem perpetually dissatisfied.

Similarly in the United States, Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, issued an angry rebuttal to Biden’s comments cited earlier. “I could only see black straight, queer and trans love in ads for the next 30 years and that wouldn’t be enough,” he wrote in the online magazine. The Grio. Claiming to have carefully tracked the issue, Johnson says 70% of those couples involve black women and white men. (He obviously hasn’t watched many recent Canadian commercials.) What Johnson concludes is that “woke white America wants to believe it can [copulate] it’s (sic) far from racism, as long as the penis is white. Like Nelson, it seems Johnson will never be convinced that his country is not irredeemably racist.

There is also considerable angst among small religious populations that intermarriage threatens to erode their carefully guarded identity. The Jewish Diaspora, for example, closely monitors intermarriage statistics and frequently comments with concern when these rates increase. It may be less because of intermarriage in itself and even more so because a Jewish partner frequently abandons his religious practices and/or does not pass them on to any children the couple may have.