When I grew up in the United States, most if not all of our most popular television series kept us doped in a fantasy world where the only people that counted were white Europeans who spoke English. We read history as well but there was too little about the “other” USAmericans: immigrants, Latinos, blacks, Native Americans and a long list of others that built the United States.
Like democracy, the cultural diversity of a society should have representation.
If cultural diversity were used as a yardstick to measure our level of respect for different ethnic groups and their participation in our society, most of the countries of the world would be run by despotic regimes were the voices of these groups are either underrepresented or neglected.
A question: Why do ethnic groups exist? Why are they more marked in some societies and less in other ones? Is group privilege the real culprit?
We have seen throughout time many battles won by minorities over unjust political systems that scorn and exclude such groups. One of the most powerful forces that has, however, challenged such segregated systems and succeeded is the power love.
It’s incredible to note that only 45 years ago there were still laws in the United States that prohibited in 16 states people of different ethnic groups marrying. In the landmark Loving versus Virginia case, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on interethnic marriages. Mildred Delores Jester Loving and Richard Perry Loving were criminally charged in Virginia, where interethnic marriages were banned.
Despite laws that prohibit people of different ethnic origins from marrying or, worse ones like apartheid in white-ruled South Africa until 1990, some unwritten laws by society are far more sinister. Such written or unwritten laws that exclude and keep different groups apart are nothing more the fruits of the arrogance that racism gives others to justify their domination of political power and society’s wealth.
Those people who marry outside their group are bonded through love. These types of marriages and unions have advanced humankind or “Scientific Adam and Eve” by diversifying the gene pool of future generations. They constantly remind us that culture and ethnicity change.
Could it be that naive view of the world depicted with the help of our subjective history, ethnic view of ourselves and all-white television series reveal what is terribly wrong with us? If we read history and watched more shows that encouraged mutual acceptance, respect and good relations between different ethnic groups in the United States and elsewhere, would we spend less of our energies supporting our simplistic views of the world through war and more on building a more just and democratic society?
The situation in the United States as well as in other parts of the developed world like Europe are equally worrying these days. Some openly confess wanting to return to a fantasy world that was only possible through racism and forced or encouraged segregation of different ethnic groups.
Even in countries like Finland, where an anti-immigration populist party like the Perussuomalaiset won 19.1% of the votes from 4.05% in the previous election, are doing everything possible to portray their society as white as possible at the cost of excluding others.
Greater cultural diversity representation in our society and democratic system are the best way of avoiding the perilous mistakes of our war- and violence-ridden past.
* Thank you Mixed American Life for the heads-up!