Multiculturalism Presentation -Sam K

Sam Komaragiri

Created on May 6, 2021

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By a formal definition, multiculturalism is the coexistence of several cultures in one society, with the ideal of all cultures being valued and worthy of study.

What is multiculturalism?

Many countries in the world, such as the US, Canada, and Belgium are examples of multicultural countries or multinational states. Multinational states are organized territories with an established government with sovereignty over their own political affairs but contain more than one distinct groups of people with different shared cultures and histories, all living together in a single country.

Multicultural Countries Around the World

The US is often referred to as a melting pot by many of its citizens. The term “melting pot” comes from the fact that it is a fusion of people of many different ethnicities, languages, immigration patterns, nationalities, cultures, religions, and much more. Each immigrant that came to the US from various other countries has permanently and significantly put a mark on the American culture. Throughout the history of the United States, several waves of migration. The US was originally colonized by Great Britain, so many of its original migrants seeking religious freedom and economic opportunities came from Britain to the US. Prior to colonization, the land of the now-called US was settled by various, heterogenous tribes of the Native American population. Unfortunately, their population was almost wiped out when the Europeans came to the US due to the Natives not being resistant to smallpox brought from the Europeans, which ultimately ended up killing a large amount of Native Americans. In addition, the ones that survived were forced to assimilate (this was in the late 18th century) and taken from their families as children to be placed in special boarding schools, where Natives were forbidden from speaking their own language, practicing their religion, and from expressing their cultural traits. However, there have been many efforts to revive Native American culture throughout the country, and they are getting more recognition as the indigenous and first peoples of America, and they are becoming a more important part of our culture as they do so. Their culture has brought foods, such as corn and potatoes. Going back to the colonial era, a major wave of migration was from western Africa. Sadly, many west Africans were enslaved and had come to the US against their will, but they have greatly influenced modern American culture, through music like the blues, which led to the creation of rock-and-roll and jazz. Next, more people from Western and Northern Europe came to the US, often for as previously mentioned, for a need of better opportunities in life and to get away from poverty. Many Irish, fleeing the Irish potato famine were part of this group and brought St. Patrick’s Day to the US, which is a popular celebration, especially in the US. Next, immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe came to the US, in the years 1890-1914, with immigrants from Italy bringing foods synonymous with American culture, such as pizza, spaghetti, and various other types of pasta. From 1945 to now, the current wave of migration is coming mostly from Latin America and Asia. From Mexican immigrants from Latin America, we have gotten piñatas, a paper container which is filled with candy and broken up to reveal the prize inside, which we often use at birthday parties. All of these various, diverse, multi-ethnic groups have played a crucial role in creating the unique culture of the United States that is always evolving.

Similar to the US, Canada is also a world center for immigration and started through immigration. The country is mostly made up of three founding nations, the Indigenous First Nations, the British, and the French. In addition, to add to the diversity, many immigrants have also arrived in Canada, from South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, often leaving the developing nation in which the migrants seek high-quality living conditions, higher wages, and better jobs in general. Many developing nations often had low economic opportunities due to the rapid expansion of people in urban areas and high job demands and also higher poverty rates, which made people want to move (push factors) out than stay in. So, Canada is a clear example of a multicultural state, as depicted by the picture, which was painted on a wall in a British Columbian (Canadian province) school. Important symbols from Native Canadians are shown, African-style drums are shown, and the Asian-style dragon is shown, which is an important symbol for Chinese people. All of these people, sharing vastly different cultures and traditions, are united by and associated with a common Canadian identity and living in Canada. Canada also has a couple of autonomous regions, giving ethnic minorities more power to govern themselves, and not let their minority regions divide and separate from the rest of the country. Quebec is an autonomous region, which has a majority Quebecois-French population, speaking mostly French, unlike the rest of Canada, which speaks mostly English. As a result, Canada is an officially bilingual state. Another example in Canada is Nunavut, which was constructed out of the northernmost territories in the country in 1999 to grant more autonomy over local affairs and natural resources in the region to the majority indigenous population in the northern areas, such as the Inuit, who make up 80 percent of Nunavut.

While at a first glance, people might generalize and assume that India is a homogenous country where everybody has the same cultural traits, that is far completely beyond the truth. In reality, India is a very diverse society, with more than two thousand ethnic groups in the country as a whole. In addition, there are more than 450 languages or dialects in total spoken around India. 22 of those languages are recognized or scheduled by the Indian Constitution, while two of the scheduled languages, English and Hindi, are used for official governmental purposes. In addition to India being linguistically diverse, it is also religiously diverse. India contains all of the five major world religions, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, along with much smaller religions, such as Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism. Of course, India is a quite large country, so many of these cultural traits are spread out as a whole in different areas. For example, Sikhism is heavily prevalent in Punjab, which is in northwestern India, but not so much in let’s say, Andhra Pradesh, where it is only a small percentage. But that is one of the reasons India is so diverse, the same cultural traits are not found as much as in one place than another. In fact, the cultural and linguistic boundary tends to change drastically, once you hop on over from state to state. Andhra Pradesh is mostly Telugu, who mostly speak Telugu (very surprising), but in Tamil Nadu, the next state over, most of the population is Tamil and speak Tamil. The differences from region to region in India are drastic, which hints the high level of diversity in the country.

Switzerland is also a great example of a multinational state and a stable multicultural society. Switzerland has four main ethnic groups: the French, German, Italian, and Romansh, each with their respective languages with the same names. These are the four official and national languages of the country, and as stated from the infographics sheet, make up slightly more than 75% of the language that Swiss residents speak mostly and daily. However, there are also ethnic minorities with their respective languages that make up slightly less than 25% of the country’s main language of its residents. This makes Switzerland an ethnically and multilingually diverse state, with multiple ethnic groups recognized to be given national status by the government, and many smaller folk cultures present in tiny pockets throughout the country. What is interesting is that although it may seem having many ethnic groups clustered into one country may lead to some political and social tensions, Switzerland remained peaceful with integrating all of its population under one Swiss government and evolved to be one of the most prosperous economies in the world.

In the state of Belgium, there are two major ethnolinguistic groups, the Flemish and the Walloons. In the Northern part of the country, Flanders, Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, is spoken as a primary language by the Flemish, obviously. However, in the Southern region of the country, Wallonia, French is primarily spoken by the Walloons. As the map shows, there are other languages present in Belgium too, such as German in parts of the East, but by far, French and Flemish are the most prevalent in the country. On the government level, Belgium recognizes all three of these languages to be the official languages of Belgium. Belgium is a great example of a multicultural society because it contains three distinct groups, each with its own unique culture, and all of them have influenced the unique Belgian culture in their own ways. While the relationship between the Walloons and Flemish are mostly peaceful, there are issues in each group that wants to address their particular problems, such as the Flemish’s struggle to acquire equal status for its language and political and economic influence that has been largely dominated by Walloons for a long time. As a result, many people are coming up with a hypothetical split of Belgium, so the two regions would be independent.

Even before European colonization, Australia was a diverse society. The Aboriginal Australians are not one, heterogenous group, but made up of different ethnic groups with different traditions. like the Native Americans, due to their diversity, we cannot assume that all of them share the same culture and values, and we should be clearly mindful of their differences and have an open mind when observing these things. When the Europeans colonized Australia, migration from various European countries occurred to Australia, such as the British and Irish. As more economic opportunities increased in Australia, more and more migrants from non-European countries settled in Australia. Some from China, and more recently, Nepal and Pakistan. These are not the only countries that migrants came from to Australia, as the residents of Australia have origins from at least 190 different countries, along with 200 different ancestries. Previously, Australia has encouraged the country as a “white man’s land”, but now it is encouraging immigration from all countries, not just European ones, and it has evolved to be one of the most diverse countries in the world.

  • Multiculturalism can enrich the lives of all people by teaching us more about other people’s cultures and gaining an understanding of their cultural lives.
  • Multiculturalism can help us learn more about our cultural differences and similarities and come together. For example, although racial and cultural prejudice is still present in the US (with the BLM protests and movements aiming to fight that), compared to before the Civil Rights Act of 1914, we have seen an improvement in our treatment and perception of people of other races.
  • As we learn more about the political and economic contributions that indigenous and colored people have done in our society, we start to go from a Eurocentric level of thinking, which overemphasized contributions by white Europeans, while underemphasizing minority ones, to a more open-minded and diverse level of thinking.
  • People can also get the opportunity to learn more languages other than their native one, which can give them more opportunities in jobs, communicating with immigrants and other native speakers, and increasing their cognitive ability, since learning another language can show that you can communicate with speakers of different languages during a job, which can help translate other people’s words, and as you become more knowledgable in learning a language, your cognitive ability will increase.
  • It can also help people with increasing creativity. As you acquire different aspects of knowledge from other people from different cultures, and you influence them significantly too, we will become stimulated by different ideas and perspectives and can face questions and challenges much more easier.

Positives of Multiculturalism

  • It can cause conflicts since people with different values, beliefs, and customs can clash together, since people always do not agree with each others ideas and perspectives.
  • There can be a fear of new people with a different culture coming into the country, often referred to as xenophobia, a fear of foreigners. Xenophobia often targets immigrants from outside their own country and with a distinct culture, who are perceived as a threat b the country’s nativists or xenophobic. Some examples include anti-semitism, which has been around for a long time and the Holocaust resulting from it has ended up killing 5-6 million Jews and along with other ethnic minorities, and Islamophobia, a fear of Muslim believers which is currently going on in the post-9/11 US.
  • Stereotypes can also occur. Stereotypes are generalized and oversimplified beliefs about a group of people and their culture. The one who is doing the stereotypign does not have a clear understanding of the culture they are stereotyping on. Stereotypes are not exactly untrue, but they are incomplete and based on only a section of a picture. Most stereotypes are make people be viewed as bad, which can make the whole group be perceived as bad or another negative word.
  • Certain aspects of culture can also disappear as many smaller cultures tend to dominate. When a culture is in influenced by another culture, some aspects of a culture can be lost if it abandons one part of its culture for another part of another culture that is close by, and the host culture can be diluted by quite a bit.
  • It might also take a longer time for people of a different culture than the majority to integrate and adapt to the larger culture. For example, if a student moved from Mexico to the US, there may be barriers for him to be accustomed to the culture of the US, as he doesn’t know the language and he is setting foot in a completely new culture that looks new to him.

Negatives of Multiculturalism

Looking at our modern globalized world, especially in 2021, we can see that multiculturalism is found everywhere. We live in an interconnected world, with people of all cultures following certain customs at ease to interact with people who are part of another culture, especially through the Internet and social media. Since we are constantly interacting with people from other cultures every day, it is important for us to understand their rules and values so that we don’t come into conflict with them and we can stay aware of them always. On a larger scale, like Frisco, this is especially important. Frisco is such a diverse place, containing many ethnicities, such as White, Indian, Hispanic, Chinese, African American, and more. For us to cooperate together and work towards a common goal when we need to, we must find our differences and appreciate them. We must take time to learn about other’s cultures and traditions because it can give us more knowledge about the people around the world and prepare us for the diverse society, that is the globalized Earth. To address issues such as inequality, injustice, and inequity, we must address all of our cultural groups and work together to solve these issues. We can also bring attention to other issues regarding the the prejudice of other human beings and culture. I, like many teens, am adamant about social change and want to do anything to get our multicultural society the way it should be functioning, peaceful with all open minds. However, this is surely not possible, as there will be some who will never open their minds to accepting other cultures. We as a multicultural society should learn much about each other and think of each other as great contributors to the establishment of our modern society. For example, through pop culture, BLM protests, have not only spread in the US, bt also throughout the rest the world, including the UK and even South Korea, which has made our multicultural society to fight against racial prejudice around the world. The coexistence of several different cultures is an important factor in our lives and throughout the whole entire world.

Why is multiculturalism so important in the world and our lives now?



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