Rise and shine! You are wide awake (that can be debated) and on your way to your first class. As you are trying to make your way through the throng of people packed in front of the KUC. If you freeze frame that moment, yes the one where you are trapped behind the group of notoriously slow walkers, a group is dancing by the stairs with loud music, a table set up by the Green Thumb club, and the person that just stepped on the back of your heel, what would you notice? The undeniable diversity!
As one of 25,000 (is it more now?) students on campus, this is a topic that is evident and pertinent to all of us. Anne Phillips discussed multiculturalism in Philosophy Bites. Dictionary.com defines multiculturalism as “the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.” America has been a melting pot since its early beginnings, and today is no different! In fact Time magazine put out an issue with a picture of what the average American will look like in 2050!
In a country where “melting” of cultures is happening, it is essential to retain your identity! Many cultures are practicing things that you and me are not in agreeance with. However, instead of blindly talking them down, we should consider that this may be all that they have known. You do not have to agree with their ways or participate, but as long as nobody is being harmed, we can allow them freedom and some respect. When you have lived in a certain place, have had exposure to limited situations, have a knowledge that goes only so far, it is easy to make unintelligent statements about people living in an entirely different realm.
Perhaps the biggest lesson can be learned from young children. (Younger than 8, I think the pressures of society have caused kids 8+ to try and act more grow up in a hurry. When picking up my sister from elementary school I would see kids dressed like middle and high schoolers, acting snooty and like they know everything. That is, however, a rant for a different time.) Kids are innocent. They base who their friends are off of simple things: who is nice to them, who lets them use their cool new toy. They don’t read into skin color or beliefs!
Now let’s examine that frozen frame shall we? The group in front of you are foreign exchange scholars from China trying to broaden the scope of their education. That group of people dancing? They are African American dancing traditional African tribal dances. (If you had passed by later on in the day you would’ve caught the Latina group that replaced them dancing the tango and merengue.) That annoying person that pulled off your shoe? A pard hard, frat boy. In this moment you are surrounded by an array of individuals. Do you have to agree with the Chinese government or understand tribal traditions or agree with the lifestyle of the frat boy? No! as a member of a multifaceted community, we should learn how to conduct ourselves and treat one another- in college and beyond.