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The athlete as model minority subject: Jose Bautista and Canadian multiculturalism

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The discourse of multiculturalism disguises complicated racial dynamics in nations such as Canada. Although white privilege persists, it tends to be mediated through non-white figures who can engender consent from other minority members. These figures have been called model minorities, a role that is well-tailored to celebrated athletes. Athletes who fill the role of model minority represent the ideal immigrant citizen: English-speaking, middle class/bourgeois, disciplined, and hard-working. As such, they serve a disciplinary function for other immigrants by demonstrating how it is they should act and producing a standard against which they are evaluated. The model minority has become a crucial representational figure for multicultural nations like Canada because the political economy of these states requires cheap labour that can be hyper-exploited through the dehumanization of racialization. Drawing on articles in Toronto's most prominent newspapers, I argue that Toronto Blue Jays baseball star Jose Bautista has recently assumed the status of a model minority. I elaborate the functions of the model minority through a reading of Bautista's representation.
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Keywords: model minority; multiculturalism; nation; race; representation; sport; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social and Political Thought, York University, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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