Sociology of Diversity
Q1: Give an example of a group of people who have been represented as inferior in the history of Canada, and discuss how this form of representation may influence the identity formation of individuals who are identified as part of that group. When discussing your example, consider why identity formation is complex and why strict definitions of culture may become constraining for individuals.
Canada is recognized as a country that values the importance of different cultures that exist across the country and encourages inclusivity within the society. However, there is a history of exclusion across the country as some races particularly the non-Caucasian were constantly subjected to various forms of human injustices by the larger society. It is believed that racial minorities were treated discriminatively.
Between the 1850s and 1950s, the country experienced the peak of human injustices and prejudices. During this period, Asian Americans were in search of a better life in North America, and they found out that Canada could offer them the opportunities that they needed to earn a better living and improve their status. However, they were not warmly welcomed into the country as the Whites believed that the Asian Americans had come to take their jobs. Therefore, Asian Americans were subjected to various forms of discrimination across the country. For instance, they were not allowed to hold any office positions and they were entitled to low wages. Hostility against Asian Americans increased in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many Whites engaged in anti-Asian riots to eliminate Asian Americans from the country. The intensity of the hostility came to a point where Asians of Japanese descent were held in confinement places and their property was taken and sold after World War II. After the country signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the way Canada treated the cultural minority groups came into question. Therefore, policies were put in place to improve the social standing of all the racial minorities across the country. Asian-Canadians are today Canada’s citizens by birth and identity, but a hyphen still alludes to their origin. Besides, the country still uses racial backgrounds to classify people into various groups. This has largely affected the way the minority groups especially the Asians perceive themselves. Considering this fact, it has been difficult for Asians to assimilate themselves into the larger Canadian society despite some of them being citizens by birth and identity (Thobani, 2007). Asian Americans have also been affected by how they are discriminated against by their external appearance including their mannerisms and behaviors.
When society constantly excludes an individual or a group, the development of such a person’s or group’s identity is often significantly affected. It is complex to understand the concept of individual identity as it comprises several factors that are related to each other (Sen, 2006). However, it is believed that personal traits and social groups mold an individual’s identity. Therefore, judging Asians based on the mentioned features largely affected the way they perceived themselves. Furthermore, the identity of Asians is defined by a strong ethnic self that allows them to accept who they are and what values they hold in a particular society. Asian Americans often display inclusivity amongst themselves by forming homogenous neighborhoods and shopping centers across various cities in Canada. However, there still exist definite differences amongst these Asian groups within society.
Asian-Canadians were identified as people who were born in or who can trace their ancestry back to Asia. This perception about the Asian-Canadians had put restrictions on who they could be or what they could do within the society. For instance, they were unable to pursue careers in areas such as trade and engineering that were not traditionally Asian because of their identity (Appiah, 1994). As aforementioned, the Whites engaged in anti-Asian riots to ensure that Asian Americans would not hold any better-paying positions across the country. The Whites were also aiming to send the immigrants back to their native ancestral lands.
Many people consider Canada as one of the most hospitable countries in the world, however, it still has a history of racial discrimination. Asians had been subjected to various forms of discrimination and that came into question when Canada signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The charter stated that every individual has to be subjected to equal rights and fair treatment. Despite this legislation, human injustice exists across Canada as Asians are still being discriminated against based on their race. Everyone within a particular society has to be treated fairly and with care, and their identities should not be affected by discrimination and marginalization.
Appiah, K. A. (1994). Identity, authenticity, survival: Multicultural societies and social reproduction. Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, 149.
Sen, A. (2006). Making sense of identity. In Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (pp. 18-39). New York: Norton.
Thobani, S. (2007). Exalted Subjects: Studies in the making of race and nation in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Q2: What is the difference between individual rights and group rights? Why does te