Natural attraction

An article about the aesthetic appeal of mixed-race faces was just listed on today’s links by racialicious. It definitely challenges the claims that are made about how it is ‘natural’ for people to find others of their own race more attractive (this claim is usually used to justify why most people choose partners who have the same skin colour). The author of the study conducted in Britain argues that the results prove Darwin’s theory of heterosis, that diversity in breeding leads to a stronger species. However, it seems like this might be a hasty conclusion, since it does not account for the ways that beauty norms are socially constructed. Women’s non-white faces and bodies have long been glorified as exotic. And implied in that exoticism is their sexual availability, often portrayed in naturalistic or ‘wild’ poses and outfits.

Interestingly, these ideas about beauty have not translated into the modeling industry. For more about this, check out this post on  Stuff White People Do about racism in the modeling industry.

Four meanings of multiculturalism

According to a recent publication by the Parliamentary Research Branch, Canadian multiculturalism has four meanings: as a sociological fact, as ideology, as policy, and as a process of group interaction (Dewing and Leman, 2006, p. 1).

These distinctions can help to pull apart the conflations that are often made in the uses of the word multiculturalism. Specifically, it helps to articulate how multiculturalism as a policy assumes that there is a problem, but does not necessarily articulate what problem it is trying to solve. Is it trying to solve the unequal distribution of wealth and resources along racial lines (i.e. racism)? Or differentiate Canadian policy from US policy?

Has multiculturalism come to be mobilized to create a ‘good’ white identity for Canadians, in contrast to the ‘bad’ assimilating Americans? While it may be true that Canada is dealing with diversity ‘better’ than the US, it is also dangerous to use this story of ‘better’ to avoid critique of the ways in which the approach of the Canadian government and Canadian culture are racist and continue to reproduce colonialism.

Its interesting that after defining these four meanings of multiculturalism, the paper goes on to talk only about multiculturalism as a sociological fact and as public policy.