Multiculturalists Now by Nathan Glazer, and includes chapter summaries, and a discussion concerning multiculturalism within the U.S. school system, and what can be done to improve multiculturalism within the school system.
Nathan Glazer's book attracted a great deal of attention in the U.S. when it was first published, as it represented the first expose of attitudes towards immigrants to the U.S., and to the ways in which the issue of immigration and multiculturalism are discussed within American society: it is not a complementary review, although Glazer's attitude towards multiculturalism is generally positive.
Glazer also explicitly politicizes the issue of multiculturalism, through an analysis of the history of multiculturalism in the U.S., using the way in which black Americans have been treated to pick flaws in the U.S. 'policy' on multiculturalism.
The chapters in Glazer's book are entitled: The Multicultural Explosion; The New York Story; What is at Stake in Multiculturalism?; The Rediscovery of Nubia and Kush; Dealing with Diversity, Past and Present; Where Assimilation Failed; Can We Be Brought Together?; and "We Are All Multiculturalists Now."
The first chapter, The Multicultural Explosion, gives a summary of the idea of multiculturalism as applied to the U.S., through a brief history. This chapter highlights the fact that within a few years of the idea being introduced by the government, teachers - mostly white, American, teachers - had begun to take 'multicultural' education as a given; the attitude of these teachers was that they knew all there was to know about teaching children from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that, as such, they were giving the best 'multicultural' education they could, that there was nothing new to be learned, and that they could not be faulted. The rest of the book argues that this position was wrong.
The second chapter, The New York Story, takes this city as an example, and gives a history of multiculturalism within this city, going through the main immigrations, and the current state of multiculturalism here: Glazer was involved with trying to reform the curriculum of New York schools in the 1990's, and he gives us a great insight into the thought processes and resistance to change that occurred in New York during that time.
As with much of the book, he argues here that what is understood by 'multiculturalism' by many of those in education, and in government, is a very white, European-oriented 'multiculturalism': white immigrants from Europe are tolerated, he argues, but those of a different skin color, or race, have been left behind in the politicization of multiculturalism.
As he talks about the issue, in the U.S., white European immigrants never became 'white European-Americans', whereas blacks remain 'African-Americans' and people from Latin America remain 'Hispanic-Americans': for Glazer, the hyphen is an all important symbol of ongoing societal-level racism. In his terminology, he argues that those people in positions of power in education, who spoke of 'melting pots' really only saw one color in the pot, with 'race' meaning the same as 'ethnicity' to these people.
The third chapter, What is at Stake in Multiculturalism?, expands many of the main issues surrounding multiculturalism that were discussed in chapter two, in terms of the politicization of multiculturalism in education, and the 'acceptable face' of multiculturalism. He argues that the current drive towards multiculturalism in North American classrooms is a product of the societal guilt that is felt towards the non-assimilation of black people into mainstream society, as he puts it, "[multiculturalism] is the price America has to pay for its inability or unwillingness to incorporate into its society African-Americans, in the same way and to the same degree it has incorporated so many other groups'.
The fourth chapter, The Rediscovery of Nubia and Kush, looks at the history of blacks in the U.S., and how this history came to define the need for, and the issue of, multiculturalism in the U.S. Glazer labels black history in America as 'the American dilemma', and as he relayed to us in previous chapters, shows us that living with - a failing - multiculturalism within the education system in America is the price that Americans pay for having created this dilemma.
The fifth chapter, Dealing with Diversity, Past and Present, expands on the ideas presented in previous chapters, looking in detail at how multiculturalism as a concept, and later as condensed into policy documents for curricula decisions, has evolved over time in the general U.S. education policy.
The sixth chapter, Where Assimilation Failed, looks at how these various manifestations of multiculturalism within an educational framework failed, in terms of failing the students, failing those non-white immigrants, and failing the general educational outcomes of the U.S. As a whole: here, again, he says that assimilationist policies were developed by the U.S. government, for, and to benefit, white European immigrants, not black immigrants to the U.S. (even going so far as to suggest that there were many in positions of power who assumed blacks and other immigrants were 'unassimilable'. After reviewing this topic, he ends more positively, saying, '[the strongest versions of multiculturalism] could undermine what is still, on balance, a success in world history, a diverse society, with a distinctive and common culture of some merit'.
The seventh chapter, Can We Be Brought Together?, takes the positive note from the end of the sixth chapter, and looks at the ways in which multiculturalism policies have been successful in education, and suggests why they were successful, and how this success can be built upon. One of his suggestions is that people in positions of power stop seeing multiculturalism as a panacea, as a solution for all 'race relations' problems, and as a solution for problems regarding ethnicity.
The final chapter, We Are All Multiculturalists Now? gives a review of the main ideas presented in the book, and ends on a rather positive tone, with Glazer reviewing the achievements thus far, and tending to avoid many of the pitfalls still to be overcome, for example, issues of ethnicity, and issues of multiculturalism with regard to other groups in U.S. society, such as Hispanics.
How is multiculturalism working in classrooms in the U.S. Surveys, interviews, studies, all show that black people know they are black every moment of the day; Hispanics feel they are different every moment of the day; college and university entrance statistics show that blacks and Hispanics enter these institutions of learning far less frequently than whites: this is not a situation of true assimilation, acceptance or multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a dream of white America, but will not become a reality until non-whites, non-Americans can live on U.S. soil without being made to feel different.
How could this situation be improved? Many government reports, and sociological studies (see Feagin, 2002 and Marin, 2002) suggest that one important step towards wider assimilation and wider access to education for non-white Americans is to have more non-white educators within the education system, for example teachers, but also non-white policy-makers: without this, it is rather like imperialism all over again, with the 'masters' telling the 'servants' what is good for them. Increasing the number of non-white educators, perhaps even through positive discrimination in the application process, would serve many purposes, including, perhaps most importantly, a demystification of the education process, by making it seem more accessible to non-whites.
Studies have shown that diversity in the classroom can promote success (see Smith et al., 1997), and that this in turn would translate in to economic success for the country as a whole (Bradshaw, 2002), such that, besides the moral obligation, it is in America's interest to encourage diversity within classrooms: this success and economic benefit is not, however, going to come to fruition unless non-white children can feel comfortable with the educational setting, and from this, be encouraged to participate in further education. It…