Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Becoming a Model Minority: The Depiction of Japanese Canadians in the Globe and Mail, 1946-2000

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Becoming a Model Minority: The Depiction of Japanese Canadians in the Globe and Mail, 1946-2000

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines the questions of whether the portrayal of Japanese Canadians in the media has changed over time and what accounts for the change or the lack thereof. These questions were addressed by conducting a content analysis of the portrayal of Japanese Canadians in the Globe and Mail from 1946 to 2000. Using frame analysis, this paper shows that the frames used to portray Japanese Canadians changed from the Unthreatening Community Frame, 1946-1980, to the Justified Victims Frame, 1981-1990, to the Model Minority Frame, 1991-2000. The findings indicate that the frames are not just imposed on Japanese Canadians by the media, but that they reflect the interaction of the changing norms of the Globe and Mail, as well as the changing Japanese Canadian experience. However, all the frames overlook the complex nature of the Japanese Canadian community and minimize past and current discrimination.

Resume

Dans cet article, nous examinons si le portrait des Canadiens japonais a change dans les media avec le temps et ce qui explique cette evolution ou ce statu quo. Pour traiter de ces questions, nous avons analyse comment le journal le Globe and Mail les a depeints de 1946 a l'an 2000. A partir d'une analyse du cadrage de Goffman, nous demontrons que celui servant a representer les Nippo-Canadiens a change du temps du << cadrage d'une communaute non-menacante >> (1946 1980), au << cadrage des victimes justifiees >> (1981-1990) et au << cadrage d'une minorite modele >> (1991-2000). Les resultats indiquent que ces cadrages ne sont pas simplement imposes a ces derniers par les media, mais qu'ils refletent l'interaction des changements normatifs du Globe and Mati autant qu'une mutation de l'experience des Canadiens japonais. Pourtant, aucun ne tient compte de la complexite qui regne au sein de la communaute nippo- canadienne, et tous minimisent la discrimination passee et actuelle.

INTRODUCTION

Numbering 85,230, Japanese Canadians made up less than 0.3% of the total Canadian population in 2001 (National Association of Japanese Canadians 2005). Perhaps partly because of this numerical insignificance, Japanese Canadians rarely make the news. However, Japanese Canadians are a unique ethnic group. Due to their long history in Canada, 64.7% of Japanese Canadians are Canadian born (Statistics Canada 2003b). This is the highest proportion of native-born members of any racialized group in Canada. They also exhibit the highest intermarriage rate of any Canadian racialized group. Almost 50% of Japanese Canadians are intermarried (Lee and Boyd, 12). As a result, in 2001, 37.5% of Japanese Canadians were of mixed origins (National Association of Japanese Canadians 2005). Overall, Japanese Canadians are remarkably well educated, economically successful, and integrated into Canadian society (Makabe 1998). This phenomena is quite astonishing, considering their historical experience of discrimination in Canada. During World War II, they were interned in camps and dispersed across the country. During the 1980s they successfully negotiated reparations for internment. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, this community has integrated so well it may disappear as a distinct ethnic group in the foreseeable future (Mullins 1984).

The limited post-1945 academic literature on Japanese Canadians shows that the Japanese Canadian community has experienced dramatic changes since the end of World War II. While recent literature traces changes in Japanese Canadian experiences, one wonders if the depiction of Japanese Canadians in mainstream Canadian media has also changed. Some scholars have studied the portrayal of racialized minorities in Canadian newspapers generally (Fleras and Kunz 2001; Millet 1997), but few analyze the depiction of Japanese Canadians in mainstream Canadian newspapers.

This paper addresses two main research questions: has the portrayal of Japanese Canadians in the media changed over time? …

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