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Racism in North America: Wikis


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This article describes the state of race relations and racism in North America. In different countries, the forms that racism takes may be different for historic, cultural, religious, economic or demographic reasons.



The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms legally assures equal treatments, rights and freedoms without discrimination based on race (among other criteria). Nevertheless, racism is still present in Canada, and continues to affect the lives of all people who live in Canada.[1]

Statistics show that recent immigrants which mostly have non European backgrounds tend to have lower incomes despite higher levels of education and skills compared to general Canadian population, which leads to some speculations whether there is systemic racism in the employment system of Canada.[2]

In 2006 after the arrest of the alleged Muslim terrorists, Canadian journals referred to them as home grown terrorists before the suspects even had a trial. Toronto's Globe and Mail went even further and called the suspects "brown skinned young men" in their article.[3]

Quebec has a special situation within Canada because of the French language. In January 2007, the town of Hérouxville mayor and municipal council adapted a code of behavior for immigrants which states covering one's face and doing prayers in school is not permitted. The code also states that stoning women or female genital cutting are prohibited. A similar document passed in October 2008 which enforces new immigrants to Quebec to sign a document stating that they will learn French and respect Quebec's "shared values".[4]

Canadians freely use the term "visible minority" to refer to all people of colour. This poorly defined, legally recognized, term is entrenched in Canada's Employment Equity Act of 1995.[5] The UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination informed Canada that the use of the term “Visible Minority” is itself offensive and racist.[6] The Employment Equity Act is increasingly seen by many Canadians as an anachronism from the late 20th century[7] which helps entrench race-based quotas.

Canada's treatment of Aboriginals is governed by the Indian Act, which provides special treatment for Indians, Inuit and Metis. In 1999, the Canadian government created an autonomous territory, Nunavut for the Inuit living in the Arctic and Northernmost parts of the country. Inuit composed 85% of the population of Nunavut, which represents a new level of self-determination for the indigenous people of Canada.[8] In August 2008, McGill University's Chancellor and International Olympic Committee representative Richard Pound made a statement in an interview with La Presse in which he said : "We must not forget that 400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European origin, while in China, we're talking about a 5,000-year-old civilization,".[9]

There are notable records of slavery in Canada in the 1600s. More than half of all Canadian slaves were aboriginal,[citation needed] and the United Empire Loyalists brought their slaves with them after leaving what became the United States. In 1793, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, passed a bill called the Act Against Slavery making it illegal to bring a person into the colony for the purposes of enslavement, and mandating the gradual emancipation of all slaves[10] in Upper Canada. Slavery was fully outlawed across all of Canada in 1834. Most of the emancipated slaves of African descent were then sent to settle Freetown in Sierra Leone and those that remained primarily ended up in segregated communities such as Africville outside Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Starting in 1858, Chinese "coolies" were brought to Canada to work in the mines and on the Canadian Pacific Railway. However, they were denied by law the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, and in the 1880s, "head taxes" were implemented to curtail immigration from China. In 1907, a riot in Vancouver targeted Chinese and Japanese-owned businesses. In 1923, the federal government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, commonly known as the Exclusion Act, prohibiting further Chinese immigration except under "special circumstances". Japanese Canadians were also subject to anti-Asian racism, particularly during World War II when many Canadians of Japanese heritage — even those who were born in Canada — were forcibly moved to internment camps. The government of Canada officially apologised and made restitution for the treatment of Japanese Canadians in 1988.[11] The Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947, the same year in which Chinese Canadians were given the right to vote. Restrictions would continue to exist on immigration from Asia until 1967, when all racial restrictions on immigration to Canada were repealed, and Canada adopted the current points based immigration system.

In the Northwest Territories, Aboriginals are given preference for jobs and education and are considered to have P1 status. Non-aboriginal people who were born in the NWT or have resided half of their life there are considered a P2, as well as women and disabled peoples. White males receive the lowest priority, P3.[12]


Expulsion of the St. Domingue’s 40,000 white French settlers during the Haitian Revolution from 1791 to 1804. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, first ruler of an independent Haiti, declared Haiti an all black nation, expelled all the remaining whites on the island and forbade Caucasians from ever again owning property or land there.[13][14]

Trinidad and Tobago

The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of cultures and has also been a place of great ethnic tensions between the politically and economically empowered Afro-Caribbean or black African decendant and Indo-Caribbean or South Asian descendant people.

Trinidad and Tobago is home to 1.3 million people, whereas 95% live on Trinidad and 5% live on Tobago. Around 39% of Trinidadians are of African descent and 43% is of Indian descent. The country has a small population of European descendants from British colonial rule and the Asian (predominantly Chinese) minority.

Africans usually live in the urban areas, notably the East-West corridor while Indians usually live in rural areas surrounding the sugar cane plantations.

Racism exists on every level of society although both the ethnic groups mix fairly well in everyday life. It is thought the British colonial government created the current racial melange to divert attention from the few whites in the highest ends of business and government.

Tension existed between the two ethnic groups from the day African slaves achieved emancipation and Indians from India came to work on the sugar plantations. Africans accused the Indians from stealing their jobs because Indians worked for cheap wages.

Most Africans then migrated to the urban areas, notably Port of Spain and to other villages around the industrial areas. Indians usually remained in the areas surrounding the sugar cane plantations to continue agriculture.

There have been long calls of discrimination between the two ethnic groups, and also with religion. Whites and Christians were usually accepted into high school while if you were from an Indian family, Hindu or Muslim, their chances for admission are less expected.

Racism exists in Trinidad and Tobago for many reasons. The biggest issue is politics. The two major political parties are marginalized between race. Politically, the Africans are in power. Afro-Trinidadians are accused of discriminating against East Indians in the government sector such as jobs, housing, health and scholarships. Housing and media licensing is a huge issue where as Africans are preferred receiving these privileges. Indians continuously protest against crime, which are usually targeted against those of Indian decent. Rural Indians are long neglected where their constituencies are usually flooded out and underdeveloped. Whereas the agriculture sector is domininatly Indian, there have been complaints about the blatant neglect of this sector by the government.

Indians usually accuse the government for trying to "Africanize" the country. Although 18% of the country is mixed, intermarriage between Africans and Indians remain a controversial issue especially with Indians. Indians accuse Africans for discriminating during the oil boom years, crime, nepotism and attention of their blackness to the western world. Indians are usually discriminated because of their names.

In modern times, tensions between Indians and Afro-Caribbean (black) people has increased. There has been discrimination on the religious area. Christians usually are classified superior to non-Christian religions. Hindus and Muslims have long complained about discrimination; such an issue is the issuing a radio license to a prominent Hindu group and the persecution of a well known Muslim activist when he protested against crime under anti-terrorism laws.


The most significant racism in Mexico is the one against its Native American population. It is often unacknowledged but present in many ways and it affects the majority of Mexicans, who are at least partly indigenous (mestizo). There are multiple terms for each level of mestizo ancestral background, one of them Coyote stands for lighter-skinned mestizos or Indians with evident Spanish ancestry. The word was derived from the species of wild dogs.

Also, Northern Mexicans (Norteños) show a feeling of superiority towards Mexicans residing in Southern Mexico (Sureños) or coupled with Central Americans from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras known to immigrate into Mexico or on their way to the US. Usually, Northern and Central Mexicans or those of higher class are of lighter pigment and can be more related to European ancestry, while in the south the majority are indigenous people, or Mexicans who are mostly related to their Amerindian ancestry.

Mexican Americans are even subject to names (i.e. pochos), jokes, insults, scrutiny and viewed as disloyal to Mexico, "wannabe" Mexicans and even whitewashed to be more Anglo than Mexicano. Although millions of Mexican immigrants settled in the US, esp. in recent decades, the majority of them are descendants of socially oppressed peoples of the rural peasant underclass, further adds to negative depictions and portrayals of Mexicans living in the US.

Another form of racism is present by regional accent. Mexico has a variety of accents and it all depends on what region your from. Limited ability to communicate in Spanish is a barrier to advancement in socioeconomic positions and class status is strongly felt in the country. The primarily white/Castillan elite continues to poorly disparage cultures in rural interior states.

There are also derogatory terms, an example is Paisa, which means a person of a small town that hasn't assimilated to city life and/or sticks to old traditions as ranch people. Another is Chalino to mean a rural peasant with a strong meaning like Paisa (or paisano) does. The two terms are compared with redneck and hillbilly for rural white Americans.

More racially descriptive terms are Morocho for dark-skinned persons who resembled a Moor or Moroccan Arab in appearance, Indio for an indigenous person but used for those resembled a South Asian, chino for anyone who resembled a Chinese person or East Asian (as well it can mean a Filipino), and guero for a blonde/blue eyed Caucasian is shortened from the term guerrero or warrior (Conquistador) in Spanish.

United States of America


  2. ^ "Income and immigration in Canada". 
  3. ^ "How Racism invaded Canada". 
  4. ^ "Quebec Demands Immigrants sign". 
  5. ^ "Employment Equity Act". 
  6. ^ "Canada told not to use term 'visible minorities'". 
  7. ^ "Employment Inequity: Why Competition Negates the Need for Interventionist Policy". 
  8. ^ "Press kit: Issues - Racism against Indigenous peoples - World Conference Against Racism". 
  9. ^ "Ex-Olympian Call Pound Racist". 
  10. ^ "Freedom from Slavery". Government of Ontario, Ministry of Government Services. 
  11. ^ "Japanese Internment". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  12. ^ GNWT - Human Resources - Affirmative Action <>
  13. ^ A Brief History of Dessalines from 1825 Missionary Journal
  14. ^ Slave Revolt in St. Domingue

See also

Racism by country

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