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The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto

The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 315
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  • Book Info
    The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto
    Book Description:

    Based on in-depth interviews and extensive observation, her study provides a richly detailed overview of the major cultural institutions in the lives of Afro-Caribbean residents of Toronto

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8063-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xii-xiii)
  5. Definitions of Terms
    (pp. xiv-xv)
    (pp. xvi-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    Caribbean migrants come from one of the most complex areas of the world. Despite its relatively small size, the Caribbean region played a crucial role in earlier centuries in the struggles of European countries to gain a foothold in the New World. Columbus ʹdiscoveredʹ most of the islands in his three voyages in the sixteenth century. Many of them were, however, already inhabited by native Caribs and Arawaks, whose contact with the discoverers proved to be their undoing. Succumbing to both disease and enforced servitude, the aboriginal population was soon decimated. Meanwhile, the Caribbean became a battleground for the political...

  8. Part One: Background, Theoretical Focus, and Outline of the Book

    • 1 Theoretical Framework
      (pp. 11-26)

      The theoretical framework of this book is derived from two streams of literature on stratification, ethnicity, and majority-minority relations spanning the disciplines of social anthropology and sociology. It includes the literature on plural societies and pluralism on the one hand and some significant work undertaken on ethnicity and stratification on the other.

      The main theoretical issue to be addressed in this book is the differential incorporation of Caribbean people into Canadian society. ʹDifferential incorporation,ʹ a concept developed by noted anthropologist M.G. Smith, referred to the status of ethnic groups in society and recognized that some are more incorporated or integrated...

    • 2 Immigration and the Immigration Process
      (pp. 27-42)

      The year 1962 was an important one for Caribbean migration. In that year, Canada began changing its immigration laws that five years later established the point system of immigration. Unlike the earlier laws that were discriminatory against peoples of colour (Calliste 1993; Satzewich 1991), the point system changed the inequalities of the prior legislation by requiring immigrants to pass a points test. Fifty out of 100 points based on a number of educational, employment, linguistic, and other criteria have to be earned to qualify for entry into the country. Coincidentally, Great Britain, which had until the early 1960s a very...

    • 3 After Immigration: Identity and Culture Shock
      (pp. 43-54)

      How do migrants react and feel after they arrive in Canada? They often believe that they will one day return home. As migrants begin to achieve (however modestly) their goals and realize their ambitions, they begin to feel ambivalent about their cultural identity. On the one hand, they feel that they have made the right move in migrating since Canada is, despite the many problems it presents to these newcomers, a land of opportunity, whereas ʹhomeʹ is a Third World, underdeveloped country. Nevertheless there is continuing nostalgia about ʹhome.ʹ Underlying both feelings are comparisons between Canada and their home country....

  9. Part Two: Life in Canada

    • [PART TWO: Introduction]
      (pp. 55-56)

      In Part Two, some basic questions about the institutional life of Caribbean migrants in Canada will be explored. Some of the chapters present data from a variety of sources. However, in keeping with the ethnographic approach of this book, the day-to-day experiences of Caribbean people in Canada, as revealed by in-depth interviews, will be the focus of each chapter.

      In chapter 4, the most basic form of social organization, the family, will be discussed. This institution is of particular relevance in the study of Caribbean people because of the variability in their marriage and relationship systems and consequent forms of...

    • 4 Marriage, Relationships, and Family Organization
      (pp. 57-101)

      Marriage, relationships, family organization, gender relations, and systems of kinship as practised in the Caribbean are extremely varied and complex. Indeed, the institutional patterns of family dynamics are among the most complicated of all the basic institutions in Caribbean society.

      In West Indian life, family organization is characterized by legal marriage, common-law ʹmarriages,ʹ visiting unions, and ʹillegitimateʹ births resulting from casual unions.¹ All these forms of relationship are practised by Caribbean people of all class levels, although the exact frequencies of each type may vary by class and other variables. In recent studies (Smith 1988), common-law and visiting unions were...

    • 5 The Impact of Racism on Employment
      (pp. 102-119)

      Employment is one of the most important concerns for people of Caribbean origin since improving their economic status is usually one of the main reasons for immigrating. With very high rates of unemployment in most of the countries, the desire to emigrate is particularly strong among the working and lower middle class. Canada is an obvious choice because of its long historical ties to the Caribbean region and its reputation as a ʹgoodʹ country. In recent years, however, Canadaʹs reputation has suffered because jobs are not as easy to get as was first believed. Moreover, while Canada had been considered...

    • 6 The Educational Experiences of Caribbean Youth
      (pp. 120-147)

      In this chapter² the experiences of Caribbean students in the educational system will be explored. Earlier studies have discussed the important role of systemic racism and differential incorporation in the structure and organization of schools. Issues such as the Eurocentric bias in the curriculum, bias in textbooks, and the paucity of Caribbean teachers and administrators have been identified and various school boards have tried to create a more equitable organization. What has not been examined, however, is the far more subtle experiences faced by students on a day-to-day basis in the schools. These are the factors hidden to all but...

    • 7 Religion
      (pp. 148-166)

      Religion is an extremely important institution in Caribbean societies. There is a wide range of Christian and non-Christian religions in the region. In addition to the Roman Catholic Church, every denomination of Protestant Christianity can be found there, although in terms of overall membership numbers, the Anglican church probably predominates. In addition to the many denominational churches, there are also a wide variety of Pentecostal, fundamental, and revival churches that are not affiliated with a denomination and often operate quite separately. A common pattern is for a ʹministerʹ who receives the ʹcallʹ to found a church in a village and...

    • 8 Leisure and Social Life
      (pp. 167-181)

      Social and leisure activities are an extremely important part of Caribbean culture. The concept of socializing with others figures prominently in the culture. This is largely fostered by the small size of many of the islands, but even in the larger countries, collectivity rather than isolation is the rule. Social life and activity almost always includes a number of people. Family life fosters this concept since most working-class homes are small but full of people as there are often many children and older members of the extended family.

      There is relatively little privacy in Caribbean homes, and the concept of...

    • 9 The Illegal Subculture
      (pp. 182-200)

      The ʹsubcultureʹ refers to a pattern of social and economic activities characteristic of the underclass in the Caribbean community. These activities include various forms of illegality ranging from selling alcohol after hours to prostitution and distributing drugs. The venue for subcultural activity, such as drug dealing, is primarily the social and after-hours clubs.

      After-hours clubs generally operate past their licensing hours, if they are licensed at all, and begin operations at around 1 a.m. ʹBooze cansʹ usually refer to after-hours clubs, but the term has taken on a more generic meaning to include private house parties in which liquor is...

    • 10 Relations with Police, Justice, and the Courts
      (pp. 201-225)

      Of central concern to the Caribbean community is their relationship with the police. Since the police are usually the first point of contact with the justice system, they are most often singled out by Caribbean Black people.¹ Here, as in the U.K. and the U.S., police-Black community relations are at the core of racial tensions in the city.²

      Police-Black community relations were mentioned by a vast majority of our respondents quite spontaneously and usually in answer to questions ʹabout Canada.ʹ As in other areas of concern to Caribbean people, social class differentiated their views to some extent. Working-class respondents, especially...

    • 11 Coping Mechanisms: Strategies of Adaptation to Canadian Society
      (pp. 226-247)

      How do Caribbean people respond to their marginalization in Canadian society? How do they react to racism on individual and collective levels? To what extent are certain cultural patterns that they bring with them advantageous in helping them adapt to a new society? In this chapter, the adaptative strategies of people of Caribbean origin will be examined. What particular techniques have been developed to aid in the adaptation process? The ways in which people help each other in the new environment to make the adjustment easier will also be discussed.

      Migrants in Canada, as elsewhere, begin the adaptation process by...

    • 12 Coping Mechanisms for Racism at the Individual Level
      (pp. 248-267)

      Institutional and organizational coping strategies were discussed in the preceding chapter. There is also the individual level of coping with change. How do people adapt to a new societal environment? How does the process of change affect the ways in which the new generation defines itself? We are referring of course to the changing patterns of personal identity. Finding a new identity or set of identities and using them successfully is an important method of coping; this mechanism works at the individual level.

      In addition to the changing nature of personal or individual identity in a new host society, both...

  10. 13 Summary and Conclusions
    (pp. 268-278)

    The Caribbean community in Toronto is not homogeneous. In fact, the term ʹcommunityʹ is misleading and ʹcommunitiesʹ is a more accurate description of a group that is clearly segmented by a number of factors. Of primary importance is the retention of a stratification system that is ingrained in Caribbean society. It is the result of a history that includes the plantation system, slavery, colonial domination, and, more recently, the conditions that have led to a continued pattern of neocolonial dependency. Social class divisions in Caribbean society are extremely powerful determinants of status and position. M.G. Smith was led to characterize...

  11. APPENDIX A: Description of the Interview Sample
    (pp. 279-280)
  12. APPENDIX B: Caribbean Community Institutions in Toronto Listed in SHARE, Canadaʹs Largest Ethnic Newspaper
    (pp. 281-284)
  13. References
    (pp. 285-293)
  14. Index
    (pp. 294-297)