Smart, Sophisticated City Dwellers and Interracial Unions

Cynthia Cheng

Interracial couples are “happenin'” in cities across the country.  According to this Toronto Star article, 5.1% of all city-dwelling couples were interracial, while 0.5% of all non-city people were.  Vancouver has the most mixed relationships, at 8.5%.  The city factor is not surprising, since demographically, minorities are more likely to live in cities than in rural areas.  Also, as the article noted, the longer an individual been in Canada, the more likely one is to date outside of his or her culture.  And being in the city, people tend to be more exposed to a variety of different cultures and therefore have fewer “issues” with difference.

Families like this are more likely found in cities

It is also interesting to note that many people in interracial relationships are highly educated (according to another Toronto Star piece).  According to the article, 6.4% of people with a university degree or higher are in mixed relationships, while only 1.6% of those with just high school are.  When you go to school with people from all over the country and the world, you get exposed to many more cultures, even if you are a “townie” commuting to a school in your own city.  People who don’t take post-secondary are less likely to be exposed, even if one is from a diverse city.  Of course, you can have a Grade 10 education and still be well-travelled, but that is very rare. After all, unless you are a movie star or musician, it is very unlikely you are going to be able to afford all those plane tickets to various countries around the world. 

It’s interesting how nay-sayers will go on about how such relationships don’t work.  What they might forget is that oftentimes, there are cultural issues between people of the SAME ethnic background.  We have all seen this in movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend it like Beckham and even as far back as The Jazz Singer.  Sure, they’re works of fiction, but we all know that clashes between immigrant parents and their second generation (or even 1.5 generation) children happen, even in families where the immigrant parents are well-versed in Canadian culture.  It’s happened with me – anyone who has read my wedding blog knows. 

Of course, the longer one has been in Canada, the more likely one will marry someone from a different race.  Within the visible minority population, 12 % of immigrant generation people “marry out,” but it increases to over 50% with the second generation and 69% for the third (most interracial couples have very young children – likely because increased immigration outside of Europe only came within the last 40 or so years).  Not surprising, since cultures blend in the longer one is in the country – Japanese Canadians, for example have the highest out-marriage rate.  The typical Japanese Canadian, unlike other Asian Canadians, is more likely to be Canadian born and therefore more integrated and familiar with “mainstream” and other cultures.  Also, the statistics don’t factor in intercultural relationships within the same race or even ethnicity (e.g. Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong someone from a Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese or Taiwanese family). This is only good news.  Having exposure to different cultures only makes people more sophisticated, and therefore more tolerant – one reason why a Nova Scotia couple was attacked was because of the lack of tolerance (and good polish, mind you).  This is something we all need today.

© Daniel Rodriguez/iStockphoto

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