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Analysis of Multiculturalism and Anti-racist Feminist Thought in Canada

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When most people think about Canadians they automatically envision somebody who is white which creates a stereotype that divides people who belong and people who are from somewhere else (Dua,1999, pg 7). Minority groups are marginalized and isolated in Canadian society because of Canada’s white colonial history (Dua, 1999, pg 7). Dua moves on to discuss the absence of anti-racist feminist work by women of colour from the dominant historical record in Canada (Dua,1999, pg 10). The history of Canadian anti-racist feminist work can be explained in 3 phases: first, second and third wave (Dua, 1999, pg 10-18). The first wave took place in 1850-1970 and during this time Canadian women’s history largely consisted of only white, middle class, and well-educated women (Dua, 1999, pg 11).

There is a lack of documentation during this era on anti-racist feminist theory. However, feminist historians discovered that women of colour have a lengthy history of political resistance even if it was not recorded (Dua, 1999, pg 11). In the second wave during 1970-1990, sociology, political science, history and women’s studies started to write about the interconnectedness of race and gender. Racism within the women’s movement was challenged and confronted through political activism by women of color (Dua, 1999, pg 12). During the third wave from 1990-1999 two different camps of anti-racist feminist approaches began to appear (Dua, 1999, pg 19).

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Some saw that many dominant paradigms of anti-racist feminism were inherently racists and began to work to fix this issue. The first approach was reformulation of the Canadian political economy and the second was standpoint epistemology (Dua, 1999, pg 20). By showcasing that racism even occurred in anti-racist feminist work speaks to a larger issue of racism in Canadian history. By thoroughly explaining the three waves Dua highlights that Canadian institutions perpetuate racism. Dua also deconstructed the different waves of feminism by using a variety of feminist historians and theorizers such as Bannerji, Das Gupta, and Miller to further support her claims. Her use of ideas and concepts from other anti-racist feminists shows her article is reliable and she is educated on the work of other scholars. When reading and reflecting on this article, it is upsetting that there is little to no documentation on minority women’s thoughts in feminist history.

The information I have learnt about Chinese culture was passed down by the women in my family through stories and first-hand experiences. It is interesting to compare my experience of Chinese history and somebody learning about their European history in Canada. The majority of information about my culture is contained in people and not documented while many people of European descent have their history and culture documented. Systemic racism and sexism are both influential factors in why some races have historical records while others have little to none. Although there is little to no documentation of anti-racist feminist work from women of color it would have been beneficial if Dua elaborated on the ways feminist historians were able to find historical information on women of color. This would have further strengthened her argument by providing insight and depth about the little information that was found. Gupta, T. D. , & Iacovetta, F. (2000).

Whose Canada Is It? Immigrant Women, Women of Colour and Feminist Critiques of “Multiculturalism”. 24. 2. Retrieved from Canvas. sfu. caTania Das Gupta and Franca Iacovetta critique multiculturalism in Canada by asking the question whose Canada is it? The question aims to critique multiculturalism in Canada by discussing Canada’s racist and discriminatory practices (Gupta & Iacovetta, 2000, pg 1). Canada is a white settler society where many white people experience privileged while minority groups suffer discriminatory policies (Gupta & Iacovetta, 2000, pg 1). The rise of Canada resulted from the inclusion of Europeans and exclusion of people of colour. During the colonization of Canada white settlers stole land that belonged to the First Nations which is a prime example of the oppression and displacement of minority groups (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 3). Gupta and Iacovetta move on to discuss that many liberal minded Canadians view Canada to be a land of opportunity where everybody can join the cultural mosaic (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 1).

However, they negate this viewpoint by arguing that the treatment and policies in place for immigrants and people of color are inherently racist, exclusionary and discriminatory. (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 2). Many immigrants, ethnic minorities, people of colour, and migrant women endure processes of citizenship requirements, refugee policy, and other discriminatory practices (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 3). They further explain that it is not enough to merely include marginalized minority groups into Canadian systems because those systems are classist, racists and oppressive (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 3). To create change people must assess, criticize, and challenge the types of power relations in Canada that lead to the marginalization of immigrants, people of color, refugees and women (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 3). Gupta and Iacovetta do a good job deconstructing multiculturalism by unmasking Canada’s racist history.

They formed a strong argument by using specific examples to substantiate their argument. For example, they discussed how overtly racist and discriminatory events such as the Chinese Head Tax are rarely discussed despite it being an integral part to the development and progress of Canada (Gupta & Iacovetta 2000, pg 2). While they defend a strong argument about the falsehood of multiculturalism in Canada they do not address what can be done in the future to support the inclusion of minority groups. It would have been beneficial for Gupta and Iacovetta to outline ways to help marginalized individuals in society or the changes needed to be made in larger institutions. My personal experience/ bias allowed me to connect to this section of the article since I come from a Chinese background.

The events of the Chinese Head Tax are important to my culture, history, and my identity but are rarely talked about in Canada.

In high school the section explaining the Chinese Head Tax was less than a page and consisted of a short, vague and brief overview. However, I believe this was not the fault of my teacher, but the fault of the Canadian education system. Our education system is influenced by Canadian values and what events are considered important. This translates into textbooks and other course materials that are used to teach history in schools. Textbooks spend extensive time discussing Canadian stories of mostly white heterosexual men that contributed to the progression of Canada, yet minorities are not acknowledged. As described in the article, Canada offers empty slogans of unity and multiculturalism, but oftentimes do not include history of people of color into the education system. (Gupta and Iacovetta)


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