A Multi-Cultural Society
"You've got to be taught to hate and fear.
You've got to be taught from year to year.
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear.
You've got to be carefully taught.
—song from the Broadway musical South Pacific
Copyright 1949 (renewed) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Throughout its history the ethnic and cultural diversity of the U.S. population has grown continuously. During much of that time established American groups assumed that newcomers would be assimilated into existing cultural patterns; this was the "melting pot." Now in the 21st Century, this assimilation model has been recognized as neither a good description of what has happened nor a reasonable prediction of what can happen as our population continues to diversify rapidly. The linguistic, religious and other cultural patterns of American society are now more diverse than ever.
"Sometimes when the kids single out a person and they start making fun of him, at first I object and I don't take part in it. But then after a while, I start thinking like them and I laugh, too. Prejudice is sort of contagious."Anti-Defamation League's Hate Hurts
Caryl Stern-LaRosa Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann
Prejudice is contagious.
"We live in a world of differences -different races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities. The differences can seem strange and overwhelming, even frightening. In an effort to cope, we may all find ourselves wanting just to stay with "our own kind," avoiding people who aren't like us, sometimes resorting to hurtful words and actions ourselves to manage our fears. At the beginning of this new century and millennium, we must deal with our differences - in schools and workplaces, in books and newspapers, on television and online, even in our own families." Anti-Defamation League's Hate Hurts
Prejudice is only one way of dealing with diversity. In place of prejudice, we can teach tolerance and appreciation. This challenge requires both training and practice. Our natural tendency is for our individual differences to become generalized into stereotypes of group differences.
Ensuring awareness through discussion groups and education that diversity issues do exist and then to solicit a buy in and to form a collective coalition will effectively aid in promoting awareness and gradual change in negative perceptions. It is the responsibility of educators, parents, and all of society to engage each other in collaborative efforts to accept responsibility in providing the solutions for current and future generations. The effort can be substantiated through our speech, our actions and most of all our responsibility to teach tolerance and acceptance of our diverse American society.