Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
What is multiculturalism? There are a number of definitions for the word. But the one I think is most fitting to this discussion is the one I found on Metapedia: “… social ideology which asserts that all cultures, races and religions are equal and able to live with harmony within a single state.” Wouldn’t it be nice if such a philosophy truly existed in our world? A combined effort to live as Martin Luther King would have wanted us to live? Unfortunately, the ongoing conflict that occurs between us doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. But it’s not just a black and white thing.
I mean multicultural issues exist everywhere, you just don’t hear as much about them. It’s between some Puerto Ricans and Dominicans (growing up in NY, I’ve witness some tension). The Chinese and Japanese (for some it is considered an insult to confuse the two), and even between my own West Indian people (alot of people are guilty of placing islands in the West Indies under the umbrella of Jamaica without realizing how different they are: dialect, food, where they are located on the map J.) Why do so many of us suffer from othering? Why must we exclude ourselves from others because they don’t fit into our idea of what society should be?
When Spike-Lee started the “Wannabee’s vs. Jiggaboo’s” drama in the movie School Daze in 1998, I would never have thought to look at the battle between good hair and bad hair as form of “othering” but it was. Women who were of the same race were insulting one another on the quality of their hair. But in actuality (and this is my opinion), it was really about the battle between light and dark skinned women of color. Even now this mentality is stronger than ever. A lot of dark skinned women have been made to feel inferior because of the color of their skin. See the Dark Girls documentary.
There was even “othering” on the television show LOST. You fans remember the OTHERS? Those seriously unstable people on the other side of the island? LOL! Though the word “OTHERS” in LOST had darker connotations, the idea behind it was the same; a separation of a group of people due to fear, ignorance, and/or lack of knowledge.
You even find issues with othering in publishing. I wholeheartedly agree with Tanita S. Davis of the blog [fiction, instead of lies] in regards to multicultural issues in publishing. She says and I quote:
… “People’s attitude about race and ethnicity in this country are as fractured as ever, and are reflected in the production of multicultural books. We don’t truly believe we’re all alike and sisters under the skin. We really do think – and it shows – that there are stories of “us” and then there are “others.” We need to stop othering, as a world, before we expect to see that from publishing. We need to get to know people from other cultures and skin colors, and truly accept that there is a commonality in the human experience.”….
Well said! This is definitely food for thought.
Mari e laipe!
See you soon!