Diverse by Design: Literacy Education within Multicultural Institutions

Diverse by Design: Literacy Education within Multicultural Institutions

Diverse by Design: Literacy Education within Multicultural Institutions

Diverse by Design: Literacy Education within Multicultural Institutions

Excerpt

Often discussions of “multiculturalism” or “diversity” recycle the same rhetorical platitudes that urge us (meaning the peoples of the U.S.) to “celebrate our differences,” that assert vacuously that “our differences are our strengths,” or that patriotically echo our currency in declaring wishfully “e pluribus unum.” While such rhetorical flourishes do arguably contain profound wisdom, with too much frequency these flourishes forego the complex explanations they deserve and desperately need, remaining empty statements that, when not elaborated or interrogated, do more to perpetuate cultural conflict, racial tensions and prejudices, material and political inequalities, and all other kinds of inhumanity in U.S. culture and society, than they do to provide meaningful platforms from which to inquire into and address such problems. As a result of such postulates about diversity relaxing into platitudes sloppily invoked to evade tough social problems rather than spurring complex formulations that require explanations and arguments, on the whole as a people and culture we remain, I believe it is fair to say our behavior as a nation suggests, decidedly unpersuaded by any kind of postulation that diversity in our nation is a source of strength. At a minimum, our collective failure to genuinely understand and appreciate diversity makes it difficult, well-nigh impossible, to comprehend our full collective humanity and complexity. This lack of comprehension prevents us from developing the best knowledge we can about our world and from taking advantage of all people’s talents, skills, and understandings to produce the most humane and productive of all possible cultures—one which, intuitively speaking, gives priority to meeting the basic human needs of all.

Indeed, Chris Schroeder opens this work in the introduction, following the sociologist Robert Putnam, with the assertion that despite the rhetoric we often hear and repeat about diversity, as a people and culture we are pretty much disturbed by and uncomfortable with diversity. John Sayles succinctly captures these duplicitous attitudes toward . . .

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