|Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow|
|Meeting the Challenge of Our Multicultural America & Beyond|
|Table of Contents||Selected Quotes|
About the Authors
PART I: MOSAIC
PART II: BUSINESS AFFAIRS
PART III: BIAS & PREJUDICE
PART IV: CELEBRATION
"Analogous to the threads of a magnificent, priceless tapestry, each of our lives intertwine with others, creating bonds with people we've never met and probably will never meet."
"Although the melting pot concept has shifted to a multicultural one-emphasizing the need to respect all people regardless of their cultural backgrounds-Americanization is still taking place and enabling people to be Americans without feeling they have to discard certain aspects of their respective cultures."
"Modern technological advances are propelling us into a global age in which the world is attaining new political and economic configurations."
"When we consider the concept of cultluration, we need to think about our attitudes, beliefs, and the ways in which we approach new experiences, customs, and traditions. In general, our similarities and differences have probably been present since history was first recorded."
"Multiculturalism needs to be established by developing unity through diversity."
"As we move from uniformity to diversity, we experience internal attitudinal changes that result in our learning to accept others and, eventually, in others' acceptance of us."
Paul Christiansen and Michelle Young have taken a bold step in using strategies for their readers that embrace major categories of diversity and cultural understandings. As one reads this book, multiple perspectives unfold which, under normal circumstances, would not be part of the reader's world of understanding diverse cultures. As such, it is one of the few books which attempt to do this without a specific audience (corporate audience, academic audience) in mind.
First, they recognize and employ the autobiographical channel. It has long been known that autobiographical statements are the most powerful means through which cognition and affective perspectives are communicated. The use in this book of biographical excerpts is extensive yet each is short enough to capture the essence of an individual's identity and world view. Christiansen and Young begin with their own diverse semi-biographies emerging from Binghamton, New York, and Albert Lea, Minnesota. Geography is always part of the biographical framework and, knowing the power of geography, allows the reader to understand how these authors have grasped that significance. The reader becomes embraced by the experiences shared in these biographical statements, which point to the need for universal concepts of humanity.
Second, Christiansen and Young embrace philosophical elements that allow us to discover how an individual develops a belief system about life and how, as an adult, one chooses to function with all peopleand especially with people unlike one's self. This philosophical base, in my judgment, becomes the foundation of all. readings in diversity. After identifying one's philosophical base, it is much easier to understand the other behaviors, ideas, or suggestions emerging from that individual.
Among the most significant ideas included here are an understanding that cross-cultural is not always the same as cross-racial. Prejudice and discrimination are separate entities, but physiological differences (beginning with skin color and hair texture) determine the extend to which one feels victimized by differences from others. This book provides multiple excerpts that allow one to comprehend the power of such distinctions. While we recognize that the United States, as a whole, has never adopted or published a "policy on race," it has always functioned on individual (and sometimes geographic) concepts of racial difference, together with the economic and political meanings attached thereto. This volume helps one to understand that the quest for universal concept of humanity in a multicultural, diverse world is inherently tied to economics, biography, politics, and public images.
The essence of Christiansen and Young's volume indicates that the acknowledgment of differences means that subsequent actions will reflect one's level of acknowledgment. There can be unity through diversification, which can lead to the betterment of humanity. America can continually be celebrated because no other country (or continent) deliberately professes to embrace diversity. The bonding of cultures can occur, according to these authors, through nationalism. Once this is embraced, then the music, the dance, the literature, the storytelling, and all the other features of one's humanity can be heard without being negatively evaluated. These authors also help the reader to know that "suspicion of difference" may be common emotional reaction, but does not have to result in prejudice and discrimination.
The mind is our most powerful tool. Therefore images are critical to our understanding of each other. From the movies, to museums, to school curricula, Christinen and Young have forged a broader concept of the role of the images which shape so much of our thinking. The inclusion of perspectives from numerous profiles, cultures, and experiences provides the reader with the significance of history, the power of color, the perspectives of people of color, and the extent to which military, economic, government, and media decision-making are all involved in transforming America into a universe of compatible humanity. Their writings force us to examine the extent to which our own human qualities are nonviolently developed and/or exposed. America needs such reading at this time.
Christiansen and Young indicate, at one point, that we are all either part of the solution or part of the problem. That there is no other place to stand and no fence on which to straddle. It is one which helps to meet the challenge of a multicultural Americaand to attempt to go beyond. Indeed, this volume is a major contribution to the current concerns about diversity in a society such as ours.
James B. Boyer, Professor
Curriculum & American Ethnic Studies
Kansas State University and
Former Executive Director, National Association for Multicultural Education
Copyright © 2000, 2001 Diversity Network Institute. All rights reserved.
Last Modified: May 26, 2009