August 3, 2007 by multiracialsky
My husband was driving to work one morning this week. When he turned on the car, the radio was still tuned to the music station he had scanned through on the way home from work the evening before. In the morning, this station was talk radio. He likes talk radio, so he listened for a few minutes, until he heard this:
“We White Christians need to stick together. Multiculturalism is destroying America.”
Whoa! (The long and very well-written article A Kinder, Gentler Racism describes why white supremacist groups believe ‘extremists’ is no longer an accurate label for them, because many of their beliefs–such as the one parroted by the talk show host above–are no longer on the fringe of society; these Euro-centric views are being freely espoused across the country by mainstream politicians, television and radio commentators, and news agencies.)
This does seem to be a common sentiment these days, one that I’m hearing way more often than I’d like (okay, I’d never like to hear this, especially when flipping the dial). I am at the opposite end of this spectrum. I believe multiculturalism is one of the best things about this country, and about my family and our group of friends. Diversity is not only a way to survive (I’m talking about genetic diversity here), but a way to thrive, filling your life with sundry perspectives, experiences, customs, beliefs, foods, clothing, music, and celebrations.
Among this breath-taking array of cultures that encompass our country and our world, I see the pieces from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, from Australia, and from the Americas. I try to un-entwine them back to their beginnings–back to where I can say this part of U.S. culture we can attribute to Ireland, this part to the Cherokee nation, this part to the people of Ghana–but it is impossible to separate and sort the (good and bad) parts of our nation’s culture.
The United States was multicultural before the first Asian and European explorers set foot on this land. (Native American tribes each had their own set of customs and traditions, some more similar than others.) The concept that there is a homogeneous “American Culture” is absurd. We can’t agree on what “Black American Culture” is, and I have friends and family who are both White and Christian who would not group themselves culturally (or any other way) with that radio commentator.
American culture (I just mean the United States, and yes, using the term ‘American’ to signify the U.S. is so arrogant) is multicultural. Again: American culture is multicultural. Our multiculturalism may be the defining element of our culture. We are a nation whose legacy includes people and traditions from every nation. If we can fully embrace our multicultural heritage, it may prove to be the United States’ greatest strength.