Multi-B.S.-ism

By Kevin Williams

If there is one thing that Macalester College prides itself on other than our fabulous football team (which I must commend for their complete dominance in their recent home game) and division leading softball squad, it is our diversity of students from all different countries of the world. If Macalester claims greatness in nothing else, we take pride in the fact that this is a school that promotes multiculturalism — at least on the surface anyway.

Multiculturalism continues to and will always be a topic of discussion here at Macalester. However, I feel that this is a topic which has been beaten six feet under and yet it still remains a point of controversy and a source of problems. Obviously, all of the talk hasn’t done any good. So why do we continue to talk? Apparently we are missing something, something I intend to find out.

Discussions about multiculturalism and multicultural thought resound around campus day in and day out. Have we not heard enough about how to improve the relationship between domestic students and international students? Haven’t we been through enough classes dealing with race, culture, ethnicity, and so forth to have a clear understanding of what it means to have a truly multicultural experience?
It’s time that we deal with the FACTS; it’s time to stop hiding behind “political correctness.” It’s time for Euro-Americans to stop trying to make up for the mistreatment that their ancestors showed toward minority groups. It’s time for minority groups to stop whining and complaining about the past and move on. Sure, things aren’t perfect, but they are so much better than they have been, than they could be.
One of the main issues that arises in any discussion involving race and ethnicity is stereotypes. There are always complaints about why certain stereotypical comments are made, particularly when those comments come from the mouth of one whose complexion is not of the “colored” persuasion. Now, I am in no ways condoning the use of stereotypes, but I believe that stereotypes have become nothing more than a means by which the cultural minority can further segregate itself from the Euro-American while giving itself more reason to separate from them. In my personal experience, I have found it perfectly okay to make a comment about the tardiness of black people, the inhumane brilliance of the Asian, the Spanish people’s love for rice, and the Jamaican’s seeming obsession with ganja (better known in these parts as pot, weed, or marijuana), in a joking manner, without receiving any negative feedback. As a matter of fact, most of the time the person retaliates with a joke having to do with fried chicken or some other form of southern food, after which all parties involved enjoy a hearty laugh and move on with the previous discussion. However, if a white person were to do the same thing, the result would be the beginning of World War III.

I have heard the argument that it is not possible for members of minority groups to be racist. For purposes of censorship, I will simply refer to this as B.S. If anything, minority groups have become more hostile and racist than those they claim are prejudiced against them. Once again, I am not saying that there are not clear manifestations of racism in this world — I deal with it every time I go into a store and am supervised by the entire staff. However, the reason that we cannot overcome this mountain of separation between the dominant culture and minorities is because the “oppressed” are not working to make themselves equal with the dominant culture, but working rather to gain the upper hand on those that have dominated their lives and existence for so many years. Instead of closing the gap, minorities seem to do everything to keep that space existent so that they have something to which they can hold over their oppressors’ heads, to show them that they, the afflicted, are better than those who persecuted them for so long. This may not be done in the open, and it may not be completely obvious, but little idiosyncrasies, such as laughing at a Euro-American who prefers to wear baggy jeans and listens to hip-hop music, show this attitude.
Please understand that the purpose of this article is not to point the finger at minority groups or blame them for the problems that exist in our society as it concerns ethnicity, race, culture, or nationality. What I am saying, however, is that it is impossible for this problem ever to be resolved if both sides don’t take responsibility for their role in the creation and maintenance of the great divide between the majority and the minority.