Conversing Over The Dynamics Of American Multiculturalism

06/12/2017 08:55 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2017
Multiculturalism
Global Reporting Iniciative
Multiculturalism

For centuries, conversing over the dynamics of American multiculturalism, people tend to focus on the everyday social interaction of America’s mainstream society — traditionally under the black/white binary model of research, publication, and dialogue — without fully equating the simultaneous interaction of historical, structural, political, philosophical, and ideological forces defining and shaping the American experience over time. As people began to promote cultural diversity in the early part of the 20th century, though controlled under the notion of assimilation, the focus revolved around race, gender, class, and immigration without delineating the influence of both race and ethnicity or, by extension, racial and ethnic diversity in everyday life, particularly in essential elements, like cultural tolerance, equality, justice, and positive social transformation; subsequently, failing to capture the American experience in its totality.

In the 21st century, with globalization in full-swing, including the globalization of knowledge, some people are beginning to recognize and promote multiculturalism as a “sign” of American modernity.

In the 21st century, though, few studies have delineated the U.S. multiculturalism story beyond black and white, to include the truths and realities of other Americans over time, resulting in highly skewed academic publications or sometimes releasing outright lies — subsequently, manipulating the entire American experience. While the white experience and, to a lesser extent, the black experience have been well documented, the brown experience, for instance, has been neglected, minimized, or excluded from the pages of history. More significantly, while certain social issues have received wide publicity, including the gross underrepresentation of minorities, particularly African Americans and Mexican Americans, in America’s main institutions, much less analyzed are the historical and contemporary structural mechanisms, beliefs, and ideologies that govern the ethnic and racial experience vis-à-vis U.S. institutions. In the new millennium, with significant shifts in demographic trends redefining and reshaping the confines of cultural diversity and multiculturalism, it is of utmost importance that the ways in which ideas of not only ethnicity, race, gender, and class, but also of corresponding elements, like education, language, citizenship, employment, politics, voting rights, law and order, and the American media, uphold the legitimacy and ideologies of the historically dominant majority be demystified and exposed in the pages of academic literature.

Clearly, there has been a great need for researchers to examine the multiple intertwining forces of historical and contemporary movements (particularly structural, political, economic, and ideological) defining, shaping, and governing the everyday experience of America’s people, in their totality, if the United States is to actually engage in significant and positive social transformation in the new millennium — ultimately, if the U.S. is in fact going to be situated and reflective of a post-racial society in the twenty-first century. Researchers should include not only greater focus on ethnic minorities (Latinos) and racial minorities (like African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans), but they must vividly document the untold stories of ethnic and racial minorities, delineating for ethnic and race effects along the historical continuum, while placing multiculturalism within a broader context, if we are going to provide a balance to the existing literature and, more importantly, strive for universal equality, justice, cultural diversity, respect, and human dignity.

For decades, America propagated the notion of assimilation, in a sense, the less cultural diversity and multiculturalism the better. In the second half of the twentieth century and early part of the twenty-first century, some people finally began to acknowledge the fundamentals of “difference.” Inevitably, as in no other time in U.S. history, though, is the historically dominant majority experiencing a more profound “cultural crisis” in that after centuries of total control in all areas of social life — dictating life, death, and even where a person should be buried — their ideas about ethnicity, race, gender, education, employment, economics, law, medicine, politics, governance, media, and social life are under attack by the intertwining forces of diversity and multiculturalism.

In effect, exploring the American experience over the centuries and the changing dynamics of cultural diversity and multiculturalism over the years, there is still much need to document how the historical white male ideology, which was used to build the original foundations of America’s main institutions, backed by the educational system, the political system, science, law, and the American media, has been strategically used as a mechanism to intimidate, manipulate, oppress, control, dominate, and silence ethnic/racial minorities and poor whites — under the notions of American democracy, freedom, normality, objective legal rationality, color-blind policies, linear social change, and neutral scientific paradigms. Worse, while historically there has been gross inequality, injustice, and little or no tolerance for cultural difference, ethnic/racial diversity, and multiculturalism in possibly all American institutions, some of the most consequential historical inequalities, injustices, and insensitivity for difference have been generated by the very same institutions — like the educational system, the political system, and the criminal justice system — under the verbose argument of in the name of progress, national security, or global power and dominance.

Sofía Espinoza Álvarez is an author, researcher, legist, and advocate. She is a law graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. Álvarez has maintained an active professional career and an intense research and publication agenda, publishing various academic book chapters, journal articles, and books. Her books include, Immigration and the Law: Race, Citizenship, and Social Control (forthcoming); Ethnicity and Criminal Justice in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Critical Reader on the Latino Experience (2017); and Latino Police Officers in the United States: An Examination of Emerging Trends and Issues (2015).

For more, connect with Sofía on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagam, GoodReads, or visit SofiaAlva.com. Got a question? Email me at: info@sofiaalva.com

CONVERSATIONS