Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives

By James A. Banks | Go to book overview

that discriminate. While it protects the interests of the majority, continued exclusion of foreign migrants and minorities from enjoying an equal level of economic, social, and political life carries a high risk. Demands for social justice and guarantees of basic human rights increase along with the potential for social unrest. The state struggles with its attempts to keep minorities marginal, disenfranchised, and disposable, while the minorities ask to be accommodated in an equitable manner and also to be given the social space to express their own cultural and religious identities. These issues move beyond the local, and even national, levels and enter the international political scene. On individual and group levels, residents endeavor to develop a more open and multicultural Japan, actively challenging various modes of racism and discriminatory practices.

Resolving these conflicts in a manner that recognizes the humanity of Others requires separating citizenship and ethnicity and allowing selective assimilation and cultural pluralism. A multicultural Japan must move toward being more open to ideas of coexistent citizenship of peoples of many cultural, racial, and ethnic origins and identities. The goal that I envision is not the creation of separate but equal ethnic divisions or the forced choice between ethnic affiliations or national ties. I hope instead that Japan develops a national identity based on tolerance about identity choices and openness to differences and diversity within society and within individuals.

Ethnic diversity poses great challenges for education, demanding not only recognition of minorities and acceptance of immigrants but also deep consideration of the question posed at the beginning of this chapter—who are the Japanese? Expanding the borders of the nation goes beyond reforming restrictive laws and policies to matters of the heart and soul. Like many other countries, Japan confronts its transforming image in the mirror, raging against the relentless marks of movement, and trying to gracefully accept loss and embrace the gifts that change brings.


REFERENCES

Aboud, F. (1988). Children and prejudice. New York: Blackwell.

Abu-Lughod, L. (1991). Writing against culture. In R. G. Fox (Ed.), Recapturing anthropology: Working in the present (pp. 137–162). Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Akebono Taro no Akebonoryu [Akebono Taro's story]. (2002, February 3). Asahi Shimbun, p. 4.

Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

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