Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem.

“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.

In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans’] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world”. He waxed nostalgically about “the old Indian territory”, when “no one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue”, “the white man settled the Indian territory”, and “the Injuns had bows and arrows and the cavalry had rifles.” His complaint was that “today’s Indian territory”—i.e., Muslim-majority countries (!)—now have nuclear weapons, and “the fellow from the badlands” can now ride planes and travel quickly. Later, Steyn recounted a story in which some youths in Belgium assaulted a bus passenger, alleging that it was not at all surprising that the youths were “of Moroccan origin”.

In other words, Maclean’s has already published an extremely racist (and Islamophobic) article in the past. Four years later in 2010, Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” article expresses the same fears about an “Asian invasion” and dismay at the increasing numbers of racialized people in relation to white people within a given population. Not only is Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” a repeat of the W5 “Campus Giveaway” program in 1979 that griped about Asians taking up space in Canadian universities, but it is also a repeat of Maclean’s 2006 article that bemoaned the changing of demographics from white to racialized.

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There are more Sri Lankans in Canada than in the United States.

In 2006, about 103 625 Canadians and residents of Canada were of Sri Lankan ethnic origin. Canada has admitted far more immigrants from Sri Lanka than the United States. Below is a graph showing the total number of Sri Lankan immigrants admitted to Canada versus the United States from 1991 to 2003.

Total Immigration admitted to Canada and the United States from Sri Lanka, 1991-2003

In the period of 1991 to 1995, Canada admitted 37 345 immigrants from Sri Lanka, while the United States admitted only 6 492. This means that Canada admitted about 475% more Sri Lankan immigrants than the United States during that period. While the total number of Sri Lankan immigrants in Canada is already several times greater than that of the United States, given that the total population of Canada is about one tenth the population of the United States, the number of Sri Lankan immigrants admitted to Canada per capita during that period would be about 58 times that of the United States.

Within Canada, about 138,675 people spoke Tamil, and 19,830 spoke Sinhalese in 2006. In Toronto of the same year, 110,450 people spoke Tamil, and 12,690 spoke Sinhalese.

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White people are more segregated than minorities.

When most white people talk about segregated communities, they think of communities with many black people or other racial minorities. Most white people believe that minorities have mostly same-race friends and that they need to be racially integrated with the rest of society. However, this is a false assumption based white people’s tendency to notice people’s race only when the people are not white. The typical white person notices race when passing through communities of colour, but she rarely thinks about race when she is surrounded by all white people. If the typical white person is in a group setting with mostly white people but one or two token non-white people, the typical white person perceives the group as “diverse”.

If the typical white person is interested in reality instead of her personal observations (which would be prone to her subconscious racial biases), she may discover that her worldview is distorted. Yet another study, Campus Diversity Important Predictor Of Interracial Friendships, shows that of all racial groups, whites are the most segregated:

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly found that campus racial and ethnic diversity is important in predicting friendship heterogeneity, and that minorities have higher predicted friendship diversity than whites.


As school diversity rises, predicted friendship diversity also increases, although whites still have lower predicted levels of friendship diversity than minorities. However, this relationship shifts as schools become more diverse, with whites having nearly as diverse friendship networks as minorities on the most diverse campuses.

These studies that show that whites are the most segregated are important, because white people often criticize minorities for living in so-called “ethnic enclaves”.

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Common White Fallacies when Dealing with People of Colour

A white person needs to listen to the personal experiences of people of colour when they are under discussion. On the other hand, it is dangerous, and usually racist, to generalize from one or a handful of people of colour and make a general claim. These two statements do not contradict each other.

White people need to understand the basic structure behind first-order logic to avoid the errors of both (i) ignoring the voices of people of colour, and (ii) making generalizations about all people of colour based on the voices of some people of colour.

Errors in Making Generalizations about People of Colour

Fallacy: Confusing Existential Quantification for Universal Quantification (Interchangeable People of Colour)

The following reasoning is invalid:

A black person x thinks P.
Therefore, all black people think P.

This reasoning is invalid because black people are not interchangeable, and one (or any) black person is not the spokesperson for all black people. Just as with white people, black people are individuals and are diverse in thought, culture, appearance, and other properties.

Fallacy: Hasty Generalization

The following reasoning is invalid:

A black person x thinks P.
A black person y thinks P.
A black person z thinks P.
Therefore, all black people think P.

First of all, this argument is never deductively valid, no matter how large the sample size, unless the sample set is equivalent to the population set to which you want to generalize. Inductive reasoning is always deductively invalid. (Science and statistics use empirical observations to draw conclusions, but they are not making inductive arguments.*)

If, instead, the reasoner wants to make a statistical claim about the population of black people, then she may be committing a hasty generalization. The sample size may be too small, and even when the sample size is large enough, it may not be representative of the general population. For example, if you surveyed black people in certain areas of the Internet and found that most were gamers, it says nothing about black people in general.

Errors in Ignoring People of Colour

Fallacy: White is Right

The following reasoning is invalid:

A white person x thinks P.
A Chinese person y thinks not P.
Therefore, x is right and P is true.

This reasoning is invalid because a white person is not necessarily more rational than a Chinese person. Although Western culture identifies the West with rationality and logic, and the East with irrationality and superstition, this does not mean that it is true in reality. A white person is not necessarily correct when the opponent is a black person or any non-white person, either. If a person assumes that this is true, he has an implicit belief in “white supremacy”.

Fallacy: Appeal to White Belief

The following reasoning is invalid:

Most white people think P.
Most non-white people think not P.
There are more white people than non-white people (in the United States).
Therefore, P is true.

Appeal to White Belief is a racial form of the fallacious Appeal to Belief, which has the following form:

Most people believe that a claim, P, is true.
Therefore, P is true.

Appeal to White Belief and the more general Appeal to Belief are invalid because the fact that most people believe that something is true does not mean that is true. For example, if most white Americans believe that racism no longer exists in the United States, and most black Americans believe that racism still exists, then this does not mean that the whites are objective and the blacks have a persecution complex. Appeal to White Belief may appear together with the “White is Right” fallacy.

Fallacy: My Black Friend Agrees With Me

The following reasoning is invalid:

A black person w agrees with me.
A black person x agrees with me.
A black person y disagrees with me.
A black person z disagrees with me.
Therefore, y and z are wrong and stupid.

Sometimes the number of black people who disagree with the white person in question is larger than the number of black people who agree with him, and the white person still thinks that those who disagree with him do not count because they disagree. This reasoning is fallacious, because the fact that one or some black people agree with the white person does not entail that those are the “good blacks” and the rest are the “bad blacks” who are wrong and stupid. The blacks who agree with the white person may agree with him because they are different demographically from those who disagree, or their social position may hinge on being agreeable to whites.

For an example of demographic differences, Oprah Winfrey may think that any black person from the ghetto can become rich if she tried, but Oprah is of the demographic of black billionaires who started off poor, which is not representative of the general black demographic.

It is more difficult to give a concrete example of the fragile social position situation, because it posits that the agreeable blacks have or are influenced by an ulterior motive. However, this sometimes happens, as being outwardly agreeable towards authority figures is not uncommon for humans in general. (For example, you may outwardly ‘agree’ with your boss about something and your boss may believe that you truly agree with her, but your desire for job security may or may not have influenced your behaviour.) Whether or not this is true for a given situation depends on the individual situation.

In any case, the truth or falsity of your belief is not determined by the fact that some black people agree with you, or the number of people who agree with you, even if more black people agree with you than disagree. This is a variation of the “Appeal to Belief” discussed above. In the “My Black Friend Agrees With Me” fallacy, the fact that the blacks who agree with the white person are favoured over those who disagree may be influenced by the “White is Right” fallacy as well.

This reasoning is fallacious even when you substitute any non-white racial group for ‘black’. Whites should not ignore or dismiss non-white voices just because they disagree. Any criticism should be considered and evaluated seriously.

* Karl Popper‘s account of falsification is a more accurate picture of how the scientific method works, although Thomas Kuhn’s picture is more accurate than Popper’s, and others have criticized Kuhn, etc. A full explanation is much too complicated and is irrelevant to this post. The point here is that claiming that inductive logic is invalid is not the same as a criticism of science, statistics, or empiricism in general. Science, statistics, and empirical methods are very good ways of gathering knowledge.

South Asians in Canada: Ethnic Origin and Country of Birth

South Asians were the largest visible minority group in Canada according to the 2006 Census. However, South Asians are a very diverse group with respect to both ethnic origin and country of birth.

Ethnic origin of South Asians in Canada

Ethnic origin (also known as ethnic ancestry) refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of the respondent’s ancestors. An ancestor is someone from whom a person is descended and is usually more distant than a grandparent. Ethnic origin should not be confused with language, place of birth or citizenship. For example, a person of Haitian origin may speak French, be born in Canada and have Canadian citizenship. Since 1981, when respondents were first permitted to report more than one ethnic origin in the census, a distinction has been made between single response, multiple responses and total responses. […] Most of the data that are reported in this document refers to the total response count for each ethnic group, unless otherwise indicated.

13.1% of South Asians reported multiple ethnic origins. The “ethnic origins” or “ancestral backgrounds” of South Asians are shown in the bar graph below. (As a person can have more than one ethnic origin, these ethnic categories are not mutually exclusive.) Most South Asians (69.0%) were of East Indian ethnic origin.

East Indian, 69%. Pakistani, 9.3%. Sri Lankan, 7.8%. Punjabi, 4.1%. Canadian, 2.7%. Tamil, 2.7%. European, 2.6%. British Isles, 2.5%. Bangladeshi, 1.8%.

Since there were 1,262,900 South Asians in Canada according to the 2006 Census, the number of East Indians in Canada was about 871,000. (For individuals who want to compare the size of the largest South Asian subgroup with the size of the Chinese “visible minority” group, the number of East Indians in Canada (871,000) was lower than the number of Chinese (1,216,600).)

Country of birth of South Asians in Canada

29.3% of South Asians were Canadian-born, while 70.7% were foreign-born.

A majority of the foreign-born South Asians came from countries in the Indian subcontinent, such as India (48.8%), Pakistan (14.6%), Sri Lanka (11.7%) and Bangladesh (3.6%). The other leading source countries of birth among the foreign-born South Asian visible minorities were Guyana (4.2%), Trinidad and Tobago (2.5%), Fiji (2.4%), the United Republic of Tanzania (1.9%), Kenya (1.8%) and the United Kingdom (1.6%).

Applying these foreign-country percentages to the percentage of South Asians that were foreign-born (70.7%), and adding in the percentage of South Asians that were Canadian-born (29.3%), we can extrapolate a more integrated overview of South Asians’ countries of birth.

Country of birth Percentage
Canada 29.3
India 34.5
Pakistan 10.3
Sri Lanka 8.3
Guyana 3.0
Bangladesh 2.5
Trinidad and Tobago 1.8
Fiji 1.7
United Republic of Tanzania 1.3
Kenya 1.3
United Kingdom 1.1
Other 4.9

The pie chart below was generated from the above data:

South Asian's Country of Birth pie chart


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Most Japanese Canadians are Canadian-born.

If you ask an Asian in Canada, “Where are you from?”, the person may be take offense at being assumed a foreigner because of her race, or she may be happy to tell you about her motherland. Foreign-born and native-born Asian Canadians are different. They should not be lumped together and treated the same.

Although you cannot tell if an Asian individual is foreign-born or Canadian-born by looking at his physical features (being born and raised in a Western country does not change small, slanted eyes into large, round eyes), we have data on Asian Canadian visible minorities as an aggregate and where they are from.

2 in 3 Japanese are Canadian-born:
Canadian-born, 63.2%. Foreign-born, 36.8%.
1 in 4 Chinese are Canadian-born (“Canadian-Born Chinese” or “CBCs”):
Canadian-born, 25.5%. Foreign-born, 74.5%.
1 in 3 South Asians are Canadian-born (so-called “Canadian-Born Confused Desis” or “CBCDs”):
Canadian-born, 29.3%. Foreign-born, 70.7%.

On average, 3 in 10 visible minorities were Canadian-born. The breakdown of the Canadian-born percentages across the individual visible minority groups are shown below.

Visible minority group Percentage Canadian-born Canadian-born occurrence
Japanese 63.2 2 out of 3
Black 44.3 9 out of 20
Southeast Asian 31.2 1 out of 3
South Asian 29.3 1 out of 3
Arab 27.0 3 out of 10
Filipino 25.6 1 out of 4
Chinese 25.5 1 out of 4
Latin American 21.1 1 out of 5
Korean 15.0 3 out of 20
West Asian 14.8 3 out of 20

(The “Canadian-born occurrence” column is an extrapolation from the percentage, not explicitly listed in the analysis series article.)


Racial demographics of Toronto (CMA): 42.9% visible minorities

Visible minorities accounted for 42.9% or 2,174,100 of the population in Toronto (Census Metropolitan Area), according to the 2006 Census. The largest visible minority groups in Toronto were South Asian (684,100), Chinese (486,300), Black (352,200), and Filipino (172,000).

South Asian, 13.5%. Chinese, 9.6%. Black, 6.9%. Filipino, 3.4%. Other visible minorities, 9.5%. Individuals who are not visible minorities, 57.1%.

The census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto had the largest proportion of visible minorities among all CMAs in Canada. 94.0% of the visible minority population in Toronto (CMA) lived in one of six municipalities: the City of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Richmond Hill, or Vaughan. The municipalities of Markham and Brampton had the highest proportion of visible minorities within the Toronto CMA.

Markham: 65.4% visible minorities

The municipality of Markham, Ontario had the highest percentage (65.4%) of visible minorities in Canada, surpassing the visible minority percentage of Richmond, British Columbia (65.1%). The two largest visible minority groups in Markham are Chinese (89,300) and South Asian (45,000).

Chinese, 34.2%. South Asian, 17.3%. Black, 3.1%. Other visible minorities, 10.9%. Individuals who are not visible minorities, 34.6%.

Brampton: 57.0% visible minorities

The municipality with the second-highest proportion of visible minorities within the Toronto CMA was Brampton, Ontario, with 57.0% visible minorities. The largest visible minority groups in Brampton were South Asian (136,800) and Black (53,300).

South Asian, 31.7%. Black, 12.4%. Other visible minorities, 13.0%. Individuals who are not visible minorities, 43.0%.

Visible minorities made up 49.0% of Mississauga, 46.9% of the City of Toronto, and 45.7% of Richmond Hill.