Civil Rights/60s/Multiculturalism (2 posts)
Tue, 14 May 1996 14:11:51 -0400

Sender: (Stu Shiffman and Andi Shechter)
Subject: Re: civil rights/60s/Multiculturalism

>Andi (are we twinned somewhere?) asks if I cannot see that the benefits
>of multiculturalism relate to its exposure of the melting pot idea and
>its subsequent absorption of difference into the universal standard.
>Gosh, Andi, I thought that's what I said. . . . Then I misunderstood.
It's not the first time...

[snip] that resistance (which is what I think
>multicultural agendas ought to be about and too often are not) ought to
>incorporate resistance to the forces that flatten peoples lives into the
>vanilla shape that makes subservience to oppressive ideologies (indeed,
>incorporation of those ideologies; the worst racism among peoples of
>color is not anti-white, it's anti-self) automatic.

Gotcha. I didn't mean to sound like Pollyanna - oh, isn't it wonderful how
different we are, but it took one of those flashes of light years ago to
realize how crappy the idea of the melting pot was, and I find
multiculturalism such an improvement. I'm not as deeply analytical I
suspect as others here, but I do try and look deeper, which I should about
multiculturalism. It may be simplistic, and you're sure right that it
doesn't incorprate enough resistance to "the forces that flatten people".

Sender: David DeRose
<> Subject: Re: civil rights/60s/Multiculturalism

For those who still think that we are all "Americans," and that the
incorporation of alternative racial experiences in this country (and
globally) is still a luxury or part of Hughes's "Culture of Complaint,"
let me encourage you to see a little-known documentary film, "The Color of
Fear," by Lee Mun Wah (Stir Fry Productions, Berkeley, CA). In it, eight
men (two white, thwo Asian, two Black, two Latino) are called together in
a sort of race-relations group therapy in order to discuss their own
experiences with racial tension and miscomprehension. With all its faults
(including its predictable white scapegoat), it demonstrates the failure
of the Melting Pot and the need for acute racial (and gender, and class)
awareness before we, as a nation, can begin to approach anything vaguely
related to a cultural consensus (for me, especially in the classroom) again.


David J. DeRose
Dept. of English and Drama
St. Mary's College
Moraga, CA 94575
FAX 510-295-0712