Wednesday, February 2, 2005

A desire to study and understand multicultural literature is something that must come from individual attention and careful, individual tailoring. Perhaps I am a grumpy old voice of counterpoint, but I believe that, while having a tremendous merit in its own right, the push for multicultural studies results from an undercurrent of malcontent. People in positions of authority tend to respond to loud voices, those who are unhappy or bored with status quo and don't see what they view as their own self-interest being served. Hence, the focus upon "other" cultures and viewpoints.

Around me are the stories of American Indians, Africans, African-Americans, Women's Lit, people of the Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Polynesian and Central American diasporas, the Wiccan tradition and many more. Each has a different agenda and point of view to share, and each is valid in its own right.

Unfortunately, some get more rights and institutional backing for academic and media focus. That is when I get frustrated and notice the viewpoints that get shuttled to the rear, or rarely get any notice at all.

Each teacher has a responsibility to look into the past of each student and find out what she brings to the discussion of the classroom. That can come from ethnic, religious or recent intellectual heritage, not just the focus group's latest golden cultural children.

Through this individual focus, one can bring out new viewpoints such as that of Roman civilization being an origin for conquest and subjugation of so many subsequent civilizations and societies, including the Picts, Jews, Northern Africans, original Welsh, native Iberians and on to the new world with the philosophies inculcated into Christianity by the inheritors of the Roman mantle, the Holy Roman Empire and its progenitors. Not many see the current notions of our chauvinistic western society as rooted so many millennia in the past and in a different and many times more chauvinistic culture, and that even the watered-down concept of “white” America has had its cultural roots torn up and ignored, as well.

Each person merits individual attention. The seed for multicultural exploration should come from a deep examination of the self. Thereafter will be kindled a curiosity for the literature and cultures of different societies and peoples, other than one's own.

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