We must fight for greater cultural diversity representation in our democracy and society

by , under All categories, Enrique

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.

Loving: Grey Villet's photograph captures Richard Loving kissing wife Mildred as he arrives home from work in King and Queen County, Virginia, April 1965 Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2088040/Photographs-Lovings-interracial-marriage-time-banned-16-states.

Loving: Grey Villet's photograph captures Richard Loving kissing wife Mildred as he arrives home from work in King and Queen County, Virginia, April 1965. Source: Daily Mail. *

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! 

    

    • Enrique

      Allan, one matter about growing up in many places is that you learn to know them pretty well. Thank you for the compliment.

  1. Laputis

    All-white television is perfectly in place in such country as Finland. To me adding some non-whites to Finnish television looks artificial, and American.

    And by the way, Europe is culturally rich and diverse place. Almost every country has it´s own major language, culture etc. Only Enrique doesn´t understand it. He wants to bring some artificial diversity within countries.

    Enrique, Enrique…Europe isn´t USA, please start accepting this fact.

  2. MaryMekko

    Enrique is obsessed with diversity of skin colors, not language, culture and religion. If an Estonian, Latvian, Russian, German or American walks around in Helsinki, looking perhaps a bit different or certainly sounding foreign, that doesn’t bother most Finns.

    But throw in some dark skin colors and the real antagonisms begin! Look at Zanzibar, where the blacks threw out all the Asians and Arabs in 1964. The blacks couldn’t stand the invasion and takeover of their lives another day, once the British were no longer keeping a lid on. They took their country back. That’s why Freddy Balsura became an English singer.

    Enrique, are you sure that you’re really Finnish, or that you care about Finland? Why not go back to culturally-diverse Argentina, where European groups predominate and most native Indian tribes were wiped out in the 1800’s? Why not integrate your motherland more, with importation of Muslim blacks to Buenas Aires? Now that would be really sweet of you, and you could leave Finland alone. The Argentinians might not thank you, might even kill you, but hey, at least they wouldn’t be so silent as the Finns and let you know what they THINK.

  3. Izza

    Finland might not be the USA but white supremacy still exists in Finland. A commitment to anti-racism is in it’s way an obsession with skin color, and color diversity, color based equality, because it opposes a system of color based inequality. Only white cultural diversity can exist in mainstream culture alongside white supremacy, and even that is threatened. If the issue is that Enrique ignores the diversity of white European groups who are also oppressed by Finland’s xenophobia then I must say that you are wrong. I think he simply is pointing to the backwardness of racism in Finland. Advancing the anti-racist cause helps all people, of all colors an country of origin. One thing that can be said is that, if a group treats people who look differently poorly, why is there any reason to believe that they would treat people who sound differently, or have a different cultural background as equals?

    • Enrique

      Hi Izza, by cultural diversity I mean respect for ALL people that live here. I do not mean one group. That is why it is cultural diversity NOT ethnic diversity. And you are right to mention white people in Finland like Russians who are facing the brunt of xenophobia in this country.

      My take on cultural diversity is very simple: Every person has a right to make lifestyle choices in Finland. Such choices should be encouraged as opposed to suppressed. A good example could be sexual minorities. Do we want to encourage people to stay in the closet or to come out and celebrate who they are?

      Thank you for bring up the point, Izza!

  4. Allan

    “A good example could be sexual minorities. Do we want to encourage people to stay in the closet or to come out and celebrate who they are?”

    Ask that from the Muslims or Russians won’t you Enrique?

  5. Allan

    Enrique, I suggest you go read http://www.todellisuus.org that is the muslim bulletin board where you can get advice on how to live as a good muslim. Especially read the parts about “accepting” things, be it homosexuality, listening to music or even say attending your grandma’s funeral. Then come back and explain how diversity is celebrated in the community?

  6. Hannu

    So first you want us to be “colorblind” and then ask why there isnt enough colour? And what underpresenting, there is currently popular TV-show where immigrant is main character and is named by him and one with “immigrant background” is running for president and was elected in parliament and european parliament before that. You want “tokens” in shows?
    What you also fail to see is that “illegal interracial marriages” arent western problem, certain groups have very strict rules but that of course is “cultural diversity” and “different values” and cannot be interfered because of “racism”. Stats tell that its not unheard but its very rare that woman from certain groups select western husband, selecting is of course social construction and due understanding and multiple values they actually dont have right to select anything. Also everyone who is conserned about that is racist and thats just red herring.

  7. MaryMekko

    Allan, can you re-read your opening paragragh about reading US history? We got too little information about “immigrants”?

    As I recall, every single book stressed that we were a nation of immigrants,and darn tooting proud of it – German, Italian, greek , Irish, English, etc. etc.

    If anyone could have felt left out, it’s the “Native Americans” who were here for thousands of years, but then, hey! A little research shows that they were also migrants way back when, from Siberia and Mongolia, with genetic features and language famillies in common with existing Siberian and Mongolian tribes.

    Allan, when you were a kid in USA, weren’t you proud that you were a Finn, or least half-Finn, and didn’t you tell people about it? Or did you stress your Argentinian side? Your Italian side? I know for sure that people would have asked you; Americans love that.

    • Enrique

      –Allan (??!!), when you were a kid in USA, weren’t you proud that you were a Finn, or least half-Finn, and didn’t you tell people about it? Or did you stress your Argentinian side? Your Italian side? I know for sure that people would have asked you; Americans love that.

      When I was a kid in the United States we adapted and fitted in pretty fast in elementary school. Problems with my “otherness” happened when I was sent to a catholic junior high school. Since I traveled more than anyone of my classmates and had lived in Europe and South America, some of the kids at the school picked on me. It’s not always true that people respect you when you travel and see the world. On the contrary, other classmates may hate you because you see the world differently than they and have more information as a result. I guess you could call it spite.

      At our elementary school in Hollywood, I still remember our first black student. He lasted only a couple of weeks until the kids drove him away from our school. I felt bad about that. I still remember his surname, which was Brown. The kids made fun of him: “Do you know what the color of shit looks like? Brown.”

      Imagine, we are talking about eight year old kids at school.

      One of the things that the U.S. taught me at an early age was racism is a terrible monster.

  8. Allan

    “On the contrary, other classmates may hate you because you see the world differently than they and have more information as a result. I guess you could call it spite.”

    Kids were jealous and you were a show-off. Called “yläaste”. Be glad you weren’t the ginger kid.

  9. Asian (Realy I am Chinese so I know my own reality)

    There is two great differen between White and People of colord immigrant. White people can lie where they have come. People of colord can’t lie there identity. Second great differen is in massmedia. Massmedia reflect European way of thinking what is good and normal. White is normal and non-white is abnormal.
    So there is escape path for white immigrant.