Canada has a unique and somewhat confusing way of classifying whites and non-whites. In one census, the government wants to know about each person’s “cultural or ethnic origin.” Supposedly, this question does not refer to skin color. On the second census, people are either designated as white or non-white in color. And note that it is never whites and people of color. Rather, the people of color are called ‘members of visible minority groups.’ All three terms are demeaning. ‘Non-white’ implies immediate inferiority because you’re not white – you’re deficient already. ‘People of color’ implies the same lack, but from the opposite direction: since you are a person of color, that means you’re not white, and that means you’re second-class. And the phrase ‘visible minority’ might be the worst of all, because it screams freakishness: you stand out because you’re not the same as most everybody else, and since you’re not a member of any majority, you must be genetically deviant. Each of the terms excludes, isolates, separates, and humiliates. s far as I can tell, Canada has never had an official or active ‘whites-preferred’ immigration program. However, it’s my understanding that many whites in Canada despise the influx of Chinese immigrants. And it’s no secret that the French-speaking whites of Quebec believe themselves vastly superior to all other Canadians, regardless of skin tone. If you’re not white, don’t speak French and don’t live in Quebec, you’re trash.
Brazil, though, is a whole different kettle of fish. Since most Brazilians are mixed racially, Brazil’s definition of whiteness is more “broadly applied,” which means it’s vague, and if you want to be white, you just check the appropriate box. Really, that’s how they do it. The census in Brazil operates on self-identification. In the 2006 census, 53 percent, or 100 million Brazilians were white. However, as it becomes more and more acceptable to be of African descent (black), fewer people are identifying themselves as white. This pleasing trend indicates either a sense of healthy imminence, or signifies truculence and bellicosity. I suspect it represents a growing spiritual and racial serenity. Brazilians are becoming more at ease with who they are.