Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Multicultural Woes

An article from Reuters here:

expresses what I think about multiculturalism. It should be about accepting and tolerating ALL cultures, not just minority ones. I'm not offended when a Jew wishes me Happy Hannukah. Why is it unacceptable for me to wish people Merry Christmas?

Before I was subjected to "multicultural education" in college, I watched music videos and only noticed if the people could dance or not. After I was "educated", I noticed the races of the people in the videos. Before, it was just a group of dancers--the more talented, the better. After, everyone was defined by their race (and their "race role") in the video. Doesn't this seem counter-productive?

I'm seriously worried that multiculturalism has created a culture of divide in our nation. I am absolutely, 100% in favor of recognizing that not everyone is a white anglo-saxon protestant male. I'm not. In fact, most of our nation is not (so doesn't that make them a minority group? Now we're going in circles!). But I am not in favor of putting people in boxes based on racial characteristics, and I think that's what multicultural education has done to our nation. Is it possible to be an educated, happily married professional black man anymore without facing the "all black men are thugs and absentee" prejudice? I can't know because I'm a white Mormon woman.

But, you see, I never would have thought that thought before multiculturalism took stage. I didn't know that "black men are thugs and absentee" until the multicultural education folks told me so--and then blamed it on me because I'm white. I was raised blissfully unaware of anything "racial" except that people are people, and they all are born with advantages and disadvantages in their lives, and we treat them all with equal respect regardless of where they or their ancestors came from.

Sorry if I've offended someone by saying "black"--one of my good friends in high school was Haitian, so not really African-American, right? I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't know the realities here--are all "black" people of African descent and do they claim that? Or would they rather be Jamaican, Haitian, Sudanese, or Brazilian like the "Native Americans" would rather be identified by their tribal affiliation?

And am I supposed to not call myself white? Should I instead label myself of German-Anglo descent? I can't be Caucasian--none of my ancestors came from the Caucus region......but I don't really claim Anglo or German because culturally I'm neither. I'm American--the English will tell you that in a heartbeat. (Oh the troubles and circles multicultural education has put me into).

Before I was "educated", the race issue never would have entered my mind except to acknowledge that prejudice is wrong--against ANYONE. Not just asians who are underrepresented in film (is it okay to say Cambodians are underrepresented, or do we have to class all asians as one cultural group?).

I guess the solution would be to choose not to be offended, especially by the good-intentioned.

I have long thought the American approach to multiculturalism is broken, highlighting and emphasizing the differences, not celebrating one another but trying to divide. Everyone now is focused on tolerating bigotry (unless it comes from white men--except white men are allowed to be mean to Mormons lately, it seems) instead of being a unified nation that loves and celebrates all the parts that make us a whole. I love the different cultures in our nation. I love it when someone is willing to share their culture with me.

I'm just not yet sold on the concept of "diversity." It's too divisive. I'd rather focus on the concept of "unity" (which doesn't mean uniformity. I'm not in favor of uniformity--even as a white person, I have often suffered from people wanting me to be more like them. Uniformity is a bad thing when it comes to people.). Unity includes celebrating the things that make us different, because that is part of the whole that we are. The difference between unity and diversity is not the amount of sameness in the group. It is the concept us "We".

Can't our nation have a "we" with love and tolerance rather than a mass of racial boxes that divide? We--different people, different cultures, different loves and hates, but all working toward the same goals of freedom and opportunity for all people to live and grow and learn and develop their talents and contribute to the happiness of their families.

Isn't "divide and conquer" one of the oldest sayings in the book?

So, back to the Reuter's Article. I think it took a great deal of maturity and common sense for the British leaders to step back and say that wishing someone Merry Christmas is not about me forcing you to be Christian. It's not about me "dissing" muslims. It's about respecting one another and embracing one another--and isn't THAT what multiculturalism should have been about?

Multiculturalism as it should be was included in Mormon doctrine from early on. It's part of our Articles of Faith:

"11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Joseph Smith"

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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