Diversity Divided

Essay by reyad21University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2006

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

The late philosopher and intellectual historian Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), one of the most prominent political thinkers of the 20th century, made an important statement about what has become known as 'Multiculturalism':

We are urged to look upon life as affording a plurality of values,

equally ultimate, above all equally objective; incapable, therefore,

of being ordered in a timeless hierarchy, or judged in terms of some

one absolute standard.

He distinguishes such pluralism from relativism, which holds that different cultures have tastes or attitudes that are not objectively valid. Multiculturalism is, he believes, an important position; relativism is not. In the United States of America, the celebration of difference, the promotion of a pluralist society -these are regarded as the hallmark of an antiracist outlook. Despite such common view of America's multicultural identity, in reality, the cultural divide between various ethnic groups is widening.

Racial discrimination arising from cultural differences is still prominent within America's multicultural society.

Such plural identity came about as a result of the millions migrating to this land over the past centuries; as Ishmael Reed (b. 1938) states in his writing, "The world has been arriving at these shores for at least ten thousand years from Europe, Africa, and Asia"(361). In spite of this "Multiculturalism", which the Yale professor, Robert Thompson refers to as "cultural bouillabaisse [highly seasoned stew]"(359), I was engaged in a conversation that me and my Salvadorian friend, Pablo, had started at the local coffee shop regarding an employee of the clothing outlet that Pablo had just visited, who asked him ignorantly whether he needed help with anything and looked at him with the preconceived notion that his presence was unaccepted. Pablo, born-and-raised in this culturally-diverse society of California, suddenly had the hostile feeling that he was not 'a part' of it. We...