The Importance Of Polyculturalism

1175 Words5 Pages
Culture is a difficult concept to put into words. “Traditionally anthropologists have used the term culture to refer to a way of life - traditions and customs - transmitted through learning” (Kottak, et al. 2008: p.11). Children inherit their culture, as well as social norms and ethics, through a process called enculturation. Enculturation, in essence, determines who a person will become, because culture defines who a person is. More specifically, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities or habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Taylor, 1971/1951: p. 1). In modern society, our traditions and customs come from a variety of different sources. Television,…show more content…
Polyculturalism juxtaposes the ideas that are presented in multiculturalism. Multiculturalism argues that cultures are fundamentally different. Polyculturalism argues that even though cultures are different, they are all interrelated in one way or another. At its core polyculturalism assumes that one culture could not exist without other cultures. In his book, Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, Vijay Prashad uses the example that Indian food is significantly different than food from other places, but a staple in Indian food is the tomato. The tomato was first harvested by the Mayan culture, so these two cultures are interrelated at a very simplistic level. (Prashad, 2001: p.66) Polyculturalism in a sense can be viewed as a middle ground between colorblindness and multiculturalism, because it eliminates the cultural divides created by multiculturalism by emphasizing the interrelationship between different cultures, but it does not strip away a group’s culture as the colorblindness model does. Polyculturalism strives to create a society in which equality and synergy exists between cultures, while simultaneously accepting the difference of other cultures and understanding that all cultures are inherently similar. Polyculturalism exemplifies the method of thought that is needed within American culture in order to manage our…show more content…
When he states “Polyculturalism does not posit an undifferentiated 'human ' who is inherently equal as the ground for its critique of the world,” he is saying people are not perfect. There is not a society where people are viewed entirely equal. There is racial and cultural suppression everywhere in the world, especially in America. We have made huge advances toward equality since segregation, but even now, according to the documentary, White Like Me, unemployment rates are not proportional between whites and minorities (2013), but Prashad argues, “[polyculturalism] concentrates on the project of creating our humanity.” He emphasizes that “‘humanity’ is an unfinished project” and we can share a humanity in which everyone benefits. This concept can be seen in modern day American society through the use of affirmative action, designed to create equal opportunity for success across all cultures. The progress was slow but sure. These movements intend to fight systematic oppression, and create world where all cultures can succeed, because success can be shared among one large diverse population. He concludes “A polycultural humanism, for this tradition is a 'practical index ' that sets in motion the processes that might in time produce a humanity that is indeed in some way equal,” meaning if we view the world in this manner, focusing on the commonalities, and accepting the power that difference provides while embracing our common histories, we can
Open Document