Mixed Feelings in Racially Mixed

by PaulRaphael on November 14, 2016 - 1:22am

          Paragg’s (2015) study investigates the inability of mixed-race individuals to identify fully as 
“Canadian.” In this article, the author conducts semi-structured in-depth interviews with 19 men and 
women aged between 21 and 32, which took place between fall of 2009 and fall of 2010. Since the 
majority of the respondents were recruited from the University of Alberta, the author assumes that the 
respondents are likely of a higher socio-economic status and have access to information and ways of 
thinking that others might not. The author also specifically sought out Canadian-born participants. This 
helped manage the study since they were all from a particular historical cohort. They were also all English 
speaking since identifying as “Canadian” could have different meanings depending if the person is from 
Quebec or not. Although the city in which this study takes place in, Edmonton, is becoming more and 
more diverse, it is still not on the same level as the major Canadian cities. As such, many respondents 
compared growing up in small rural predominantly white towns to living in the city. Paragg analyzed these 
interviews and found three major findings: 
          The first being the fact that the majority of her respondents identified as “Canadian” first when 
they were asked how they self-identified. Yet when they were asked to describe their racial-background, 
respondents changed their identity. This means that although participants self-identified as “Canadian,” 
they mostly talked about their parent’s background when asked about their race. 
          The second is that participants understand that “Canadian means white.” Paragg goes on to 
explain that this is a cath-22 by referencing Mackey’s (2002) interviews in which White respondents 
insisted that non-white people in Canada should identify as “Canadian.” Yet those same people 
understand that White people do not view them as “Canadian.” As such, respondents feel included yet 
excluded by the term “Canadian.” 
           The final one is that respondents use the term “Canadian” strategically. Paragg explains that they 
use it in conversations with other people to confuse them and complicate their assumptions. Some do it 
just to “mess with them.” Paragg argues that this is strategic because it works to separate the questioner’s 
idea between race and nationality. 
            The author concludes that the identification as “Canadian” by racially mixed people remains 
inaccessible, despite the country stating that it is a multicultural society. 
 
             This study, in my opinion, does a particularly good job in showing not only the trouble that mixed
race people have when identifying as “Canadian,” but also the inability of the dominant culture to accept 
these individuals. I also believe that this study can be extended to non-white people who want to identify 
as “Canadian” too since as the author mentions at the end, “Canadian means white.” The major drawback 
of this study is its incredibly small sample size, which I find could lead to inaccuracies. Even so, I still find 
the study to be fantastic example of how the dominant culture refuses to accept “different” people into 
it. I myself can identify with many of what the respondents of said, since I am also of mixed-race and born 
in Canada, having also been bombarded with questions like that. Another part that I particularly like of 
this study is that the author refutes a lot of what the respondents say and does not just blindly agree with 
them. For example, Paragg refutes the claim that Canada has no real culture since it is “too white” said by 
some of her respondents by using a quote saying that the culture is so omnipresent that people just don’t 
notice it. Overall, I found that this article helps expose the lack of separation between race and nationality.  
 
 
References: 
 
Paragg, J. (2015). "Canadian-First": Mixed Race Self-Identification and Canadian Belonging. Canadian 
        Ethnic Studies, 47(2), 21-44. Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database. 

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