The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism


297 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7742-0
DDC 305.896'97290713541




Reviewed by Ronald N. Harpelle

Ronald N. Harpelle is an assistant professor of history at the
University of Manitoba.


This timely study promises more than it delivers. It focuses on
“people of Caribbean origin,” but then excludes the Indo-Caribbean
community and others. Moreover, the majority of the interviewees resided
in two residential areas of Toronto and were linked directly to one
another through the use of the “snowball technique” of informant

The result is a book that examines racism in Toronto through the eyes
of only one group of people within the diverse Caribbean community. The
study includes people from outside the focus group only when the
controversial issue of the drug subculture is discussed. In an obvious
effort to protect the focus group, the author includes interviews with a
man who claimed to be from Martinique but who could not speak French,
and a “White Barbadian of Portuguese ancestry.” All other interviews
are with people who identify themselves as British West Indians of
African descent. One gets the sense throughout that these interviews
were contrived to produce expected results. This not to say that racism
is not a serious problem for all people of Caribbean descent living in
Toronto, but rather that it has yet to be explored in an inclusive


Henry, Frances., “The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,